Amy David finds joy in powder, sled skiing and going big. Photo: Nic Alegre
Amy learned to ski on a little dirt road behind her parents house in what she calls a “pretty rural cowboy mountain town” of Pinedale, Wyoming. Now a Polaris athlete living in Stanley, Idaho, Amy shares the ups and downs of last season, and why Wyoming is in her heart. Watch her episode of Legends In The Making.
Where’d it all begin?
I was born in Jackson Hole and lived the first two years of my life at a remote ranch outside of town that my parents managed. We moved, and I’ve spent most of my life in Pinedale, about an hour and a half south of Jackson, where my parents had a horsepacking business in Pinedale. I learned to ski on Nordic skis.
Once in a while we’d come back up to Jackson. The first jump I ever hit was right after my parents took me off the harness. We were skiing under the Eagle’s Rest chairlift and we got to choose our own line. I scouted this rock out while we were riding the chairlift. If memory serves, I just straight-line bombed and launched off of the rock, splattered the landing. Knocked the wind right out of me. I loved it, people on the chairlift were cheering. Since then it’s always been part of me to want to hit big things, without worrying too much about the landing. I’ve learned to consider the landing a lot more over the years!
A lot of my childhood skiing took place at White Pine Ski Resort, this tiny little hill outside of town. We would have ski race training after school. The lifts weren't running, so we'd hike up the mountain every run to ski down. As a teenage, I also competed in aerials because White Pine had an aerials hill. My first backflips were at this tiny little resort.
Who were your early influencers?
My family definitely influenced my skiing. My mom and dad, and grandpa. They were really involved with teaching me how to ski and provided us a lot of opportunities. Grandpa was all about drills. At first, I liked skiing with my dad because he would go a lot faster. My mom is the most graceful sker.
Amy slays powder for fun. Photo: Nic Alegre
When did you discover TGR films?
I didn't see my first TGR film until I was 16 years old. I didn’t know that you could ski the way that people do ski films. I had no idea what skiing really could be. You could say the movies were a big influence for me.
Which athletes have left an impression on you?
Sage (Cattabriga-Alosa), of course. He just has this essence and the style about him. Mark Carter, the snowboarder, also influenced my style. His segment in Lost and Found stuck with me, I still know all the music too. He’s got a ranching background, similar to my upbringing. I was also inspired by Rachael Burks. She sent the biggest front flips off of big cliffs, and had just this wild personality. I have always been a huge fan of hers.
In terms of my journey as a professional skier, one of my biggest mentors has been Julian Carr. We met at the Powder Awards when I was an intern for a production company. He always had this calm essence about him. He took the time to ask me what I wanted to do as a pro athlete. The times I've gone out skiing with Julian, I shared that I have visions of skiing off larger cliffs and bigger features. Like I can literally see myself doing that, but I don't know how to safely do it yet. So, he's been a really good guide for me on how to mentally be smart when pushing myself as a skier. It's not like a heavy metal huck fest, we focus on the heart rate and being in the mountains.
What’s your personal ski style?
I span all the different types of skiing like I love. I'm drawn to large cliffs, backflips, but also big couloirs in the backcountry. I'm a two-trick pony - backflips and Cossacks. (laughs)
Amy on a blank canvas in the Wyoming backcountry. Photo: Nic Alegre
So, you have a love of the throttle?
Once I learned to snowmobile, I got pretty hooked on the throttle. It’s a balance, doing human-powered touring trips and just loving the snowmobile.
Throttle therapy's so great. You can rip. It gives me the same feeling of flow just like skiing a big line. I love that I can do big powder turns and get face shots on the snowmobile in low angle terrains even in high avalanche danger. The snowmobile is awesome for safer riding in low angle terrain on high avalanche danger days while still getting that adrenaline rush.
What makes Wyoming … Wyoming?
Well for starters, Jackson Hole is hardcore. You ride the tram up the mountain. It's sardine jam packed. Everyone is frothing. If you're lucky enough to get the view, you’re starring down terrain that speaks for itself. The heavy metal is playing and at the top, when the doors open, it’s game one. I feel like that energy really encompasses a lot of what Jackson Hole offers. It’s legendary. Then there’s the Jackson Hole Air Force, who inspired me when I was younger, their skiing was an untethered, kind of Wild West vibe.
Wyoming is just legendary. My family homesteaded outside of Pinedale, WY, so it’s a big part of who I am. It’s always been this wild place. And the people that come here and choose to spend their life in such a harsh environment. It’ takes a special type of person, that has grit and a passion for just being among nature and these elements. I think that itself is a pretty wild legend.
Amy explores with Jake Hopfinger and Parkin Costain in the Wyoming backcountry. Photo: Nic Alegre
Tell us about the early season.
I've gotten out with Parkin (Costain) a handful of times in the Wyoming backcountry. The conditions were so good so early. We went sled skiing and found some really cool zones. The avalanche stability was really good so we were able to climb some pretty gnarly hills and get up into some of the back basins. It was amazing to be exploring new zones that that hadn't been accessible before on the older snowmobiles, or for a long time, and for all we know, had never been skied before.
You got to reunite with Army (aka The Alex Armstrong)?
I came back to Wyoming mid-winter and got to meet up with Army who I’d met last fall in Whistler. We were hosting an all girls film festival together and just hit it off right away. We share a similar mindset in the backcountry and talked about going sled skiing together. Magically, it all came together and we got a weekend backcountry sled skiing.
Army rips it on the sled and she's not afraid to take big air. It was inspiring to be around her. She's a motivator, too. She’s always CHEERING you on. If she sensed I was nervous, she would immediately say: You got this, buddy.
I have a girl crush.
One of Amy's many tricks. Photo: Nic Alegre
What’s the draw of Corbet’s Couloir?
I was 19 or 20 when I first dropped into Corbet’s. Oh, it was a loose program. and I probably had too much confidence for my skill level at the time. I took the goat path and just let ‘er rip as fast as I could. I remember launching off rock features and then the moguls on the main fun down below. I was like a runaway freight train down the moguls, blasting over a wall, and dodging people. (laughs) That was my one and only time hitting Corbet’s before the 2023 Kings & Queens of Corbet's Competition.
Tell us about Kings & Queens.
Being invited to Kings & Queens Comp, ummmm, still makes my palms sweat a little.
Since the beginning, I've watched it and cheered on all the competitors from afar and have always seen myself being part of the event. When I got the invitation this year, I immediately was like: YES, I’ll be there.
And immediately after I said, Yes, it was like, WAIT, what did I just do?
Luckily, Jake Hopfinger and Parkin were also invited. We really trust each other, having shared some heavy experiences in the backcountry together. Having them at the top of Corbet's was comforting, and so good, because we’d throw ideas back and forth. Having Veronica (Paulsen) at the top was also amazing. We trained in Park City on the water ramps last year. I got a front row seat to witness her double backflip.
Amy's front row seat to Veronica Paulsen's record setting double back flip. Photo: Max Ritter
The whole comp is so beautiful and aesthetic. It’s big mountain at the entry and park jumps at the bottom. I love a good challenge. You get to puzzle piece it all together. Competition is my favorite environment. But at this event, I liked the energy and excitement, cheering for other athletes on and having the crowd there, the collective vibe is so fun.
I wanted to try a backflip off the top. But seeing how variable the snow was, soft on the surface, super firm underneath, I put the brakes on doing anything too crazy. I couldn't quite decide where I wanted to go. What kept drawing me back was to launch straight off the center, punch it off the nose and do a cossack. I don't have a lot of cool tricks, and thought throwing it back, honoring old school style, would be so fun.
Once I jumped off the lip, all my nerves went away and I was like, “Oh, I love doing this.” The big Cossack was the first run. On the second run, halfway down, I did a backflip off a natural feature. When I took off, halfway upside down in the air, I noticed that my left leg was sprawled out to the side and bent in a weird position. As soon as I landed, I knew that I blew my knee. It was just an obvious big pop and the most excruciating pain. It sucked. I am so grateful for the ski patrol and everyone who took care of me that day.
Your body is your temple?
Recovery is so important. We, as athletes, can be so focused on sending and thrashing and going big. It can be easy to forget that resting and recouping the body and the mind are so important. I've been trying to get better at it. Damn, it takes discipline.
What’s Granny Power?
I want to ski ‘til I’m an old grandma. I call it Granny Power, it’s my long term goal. I want a healthy body and loving it as much as I do today. I’ve been asked if I feel any pressure when I see the young up-and-coming female skiers throwing big tricks in the park and bringing that into the big mountains. Honestly, I’m just really excited to see how skiing is developing and how women are just absolutely crushing it right now.
Sure, as a skier, I want to always be learning new tricks. But I also want to be telling deeper stories, raw stories, for my own soul and happiness. I just want to keep skiing and to keep my body healthy and ride my snowmobile as much as I can, until I’m an old grandma.