Olivia Race

Age: 35, Skiing since: 1993, Hometown: Leavenworth, WA, Favorite product: Hi5 SKI


Who introduced you to skimo? Who are your influences?

I was first introduced to ski mountaineering as I began to work my way through the IFMGA guide certification. Prior to this I was an alpine guide who was also a backcountry skier and ski patroller. Ski Mountaineering is one of 3 disciplines required to achieve the international guides certification. There are many well known skiers who have done impressive lines in the mountains but I am most inspired by people who continue to spend time in the mountains throughout their lives. It seems people often believe that once we reach a certain age we need to trade in the things that brought us joy as a young person and settle into more stable "normal" pursuits. While guiding the Haute Route I once saw an 80+ year old skier enjoying a nice lunch at the Vignettes Hut with his 70+ year old guide. Both of these men had obviously spent their lives skiing in the mountains and continued to do so well into "old age."

How old were you when you first became a professional athlete?

I have come to work as a professional outdoors person through the guiding profession. I began working as a climbing guide in 2001 at the age of 25 and became an IFMGA guide in 2007 at the age of 31.

What are some of your lifetime skiing/race goals?

I would like to ski the Patrouille des Glaciers with a female team. This is a 110km ski mountaineering race from Zermatt to Verbier which is done with teams of 3 people.

What is your proudest skiing accomplishment?

One of the days I am most proud of in the mountains was leading a group through a serious white-out on the Spearhead Traverse. This is a high alpine route crossing about 13 glaciers and remaining above 6,500' for most of the tour. There are very few options for bailing off of the route. Navigating through a whiteout is difficult on foot but the added speed while skiing makes it even more challenging. Working as a team with my husband we were able to lead our stressed out group to the safety of that night's hut.

Are you a skier for life? Was there a defining moment that made you realize this?

Growing up my family did not ski. Learning to ski in high school I struggled with the rope tow as little tykes cruised by me. I remember thinking how lucky those kids were to have started so young and how if I ever had a kid I would get them out early - I guess at that point I knew I would be a lifelong skier. I really learned to ski working as a ski patroller at Stevens Pass Washington. Now winter is one of my favorite seasons and is spent backcountry ski guiding in the US and Europe, teaching avalanche courses and nordic skiing on off days for training. I am really looking forward to December 2012 when we can begin to introduce our daughter (who will be 18 months old at that point) to the sport.

What do you enjoy most about skiing?

I love the all aspects of ski touring - the physicality of the uphill and the bliss of the downhill. I also love the functionality of skis as a means of travel in the backcountry - tours that you can do in a day in the winter on skis would be impossible in the summer on foot.

Describe your dream run:

Early morning start from a mountain hut after a strong cup of coffee, 10,000' of vertical ascent (all skin-able) and 10,000' of 35 degree perfect powder (no transitions in snow at different elevations) straight back to the hut for a good dinner and a cold IPA. I haven't found it yet but it is a good dream!

Top five favorite movies:

Step into Liquid Into the Wild Better off Dead North Face Slumdog Millionaire

What do you do to train for races?

In the summer my main training activity outside of climbing is road cycling. I have found this to be phenomenal training for both climbing and skiing as you get a cardiovascular workout, that conditions your legs as well as providing the endurance training for big days in the mountains. In the winter the best training is touring itself combined with interval training both touring and skate skiing. This year after witnessing impressive results achieved by several clients we are experimenting with adding CrossFit workouts to the mix.

Top five favorite books:

My Story As Told by Water - David James Duncan Cadillac Desert - Marc Reisner Cowboys are My Weakness - Pam Houston Dalva - Jim Harrison Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

What’s the longest you’ve spent on a single skimo expedition?

1 month

Top five favorite musical groups:

The Be Good Tanyas MIA Modest Mouse Regina Spektor Spearhead

What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled for a race?

Most of my travel for skiing is for guiding - areas I have ski guided include Europe (France, Italy & Switzerland), Canada & Alaska.

Top five favorite foods/meals:

Thai Food (Tom Kai Gai - especially) Shrimp & Avocado Tostados Chocolate Chip Cookies Sushi Guacamole

Briefly describe your most memorable moment while skiing:

One of my best days in the mountains was spent with 3 friends doing the Forbidden tour in a day. This tour circumnavigates Forbidden Peak in the North Cascades with about 10,000' of elevation gain covered in 14 miles. We generally guide this as a 3-4 day tour but it is always fun to wait for a good weather window and hammer out a big day in the mountains with a light pack and good friends.

Are injuries a part of skiing? What’s your general mentality for handling injuries?

I wish they weren't but we always say if you ski enough you are bound to injure yourself at some point. I usually try to make the best of my situation whatever it may be - this is how I deal with injuries also. I blew out my ACL in January 2010 while teaching an avalanche course in the rain in Washington. While a total bummer, I missed our European ski season, it wasn't the worst thing in the world. I was fortunate to have great insurance through work and was able to have my knee repaired by an excellent surgeon in Colorado. The injury allowed me to spend a long stretch of time at home (7 months) and to really connect with our local community. I got a road bike for rehab, logged 3,000 mi that summer and came back stronger than ever with a new passion for cycling.

Top five hobbies when you’re not skiing:

Rock Climbing Cycling (Road) Skate Skiing (I guess that is still skiing though) Cooking Reading

If you had to ski one mountain for the rest of your life, which would it be?

I really can't pick one. It seems that anything if done too often becomes old.