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  • Writer's pictureGood Team at Switchbackr

Requipper Spotlight: Q&A With Olympic Skier Brita Sigourney

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

We are so excited to share our Spotlight with two-time Olympic freestyle skier, Brita Sigourney. We sat down to talk about her journey through the sport and how she sees the culture evolving.

ski jumper in the mountains
Photo courtesy of U.S. Freesking.

How did you get into skiing?

Photo courtesy of Brita Sigourney.

My parents put me on skis when I was around two on a sledding hill. They just wanted to see what would happen, and I guess I stood up the whole way down. They put me in little ski schools and started to take me to the mountain.

I was the youngest of four, which played into my career development because I was always chasing my brothers down the mountain. I joined the freestyle team when I was nine because that's what my brothers were doing.

What is the piece of gear you have owned the longest?

I have memories of my first helmet because it was neon and so embarrassing. I used to hide it from my mom so that I wouldn't have to wear it.

Do you have a pre-comp routine?

I used to get so nervous that I wouldn't be able to eat the whole day before. I'd have nauseous butterflies in my stomach. Now that I've competed for so long, I still get nervous for big events but don't feel as jittery as I used to. I make sure to warm up and stretch; since I'm 31 I am not as mobile as I used to be. I am a bit superstitious around creating more of a routine–that if I won't be able to do it I don't want that to affect competition day. I just have a good playlist, good stretch, and get into a good headspace.

What was the turning point when you decided to ski professionally?

I was a pretty late bloomer in the ski industry, especially compared to now, where kids are 14 and know they want to be professional free skiers. I was always juggling multiple sports through high school: I was into water polo, swimming, and went to Tahoe to ski on weekends. I had a double life and wasn't sure what I wanted to do. People on ski team talked about postponing college to pursue skiing, but that wasn't really on my radar. I went to UC Davis and took winter semesters off to compete.

Brita doing a trick in the air.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Freesking.

I got my first X games invite when I was 21. I realized then that I could turn this into a career. At that point free skiing wasn't even in the Olympics. Once it was accepted into the Olympics I made the decision to drop out of college with only one year left and move to Utah. I felt like I had to invest all my time and energy into training.

How did Covid affect your training?

It's been hard mentally and physically because there is no easy access to the gym or training facilities. Most contests got cancelled last year. That was mentally difficult because nothing was straightforward–they said they wanted to run every event and then cancelled them two weeks ahead of time. It's draining to try to be be in the right headspace to compete but then know in the back of my head it might not happen.

It has been nice to take a step back and focus on other parts of skiing. I love just skiing at the resort and free skiing. I had some issues with my knee so I was able to take time off and rest it more than I would have otherwise.

female skier with goggles and helmet
Photo courtesy of Brita Sigourney.

Who are your role models?

Sarah Burke, was the pioneer of women's free skiing. She stood out so far above everyone else. She was always keeping up with the boys in a sport without much female influence. Tragically, she passed away as I was getting into the professional circuit. My first year on the circuit, though, we competed together at a few events. I came second to her at my first X Games, which was crazy because I idolized her growing up. A lot of people in her generation looked up to her and tried to make her proud.

How do you think about the environmental impact of the sport?

I try to reduce my footprint wherever I can. I have guilt that I fly across the world for training camps, but I can't afford to take an electric boat. I try to pay back where I can–being super mindful of reusing and doing little things that make a difference.

One pro skier is launching environmentally friendly skis called WNDR. I hope that more brands will catch onto that. Obviously you want quality that performs in the elements, I just hope that everyone gets on this trend towards efficiency and sustainability.

skier pulling a trick in the air
Photo courtesy of Brita Sigourney.

Is there anything you’d want to change about the sport?

I would love skiing and snowboarding to be more inclusive. I think it's definitely a rich person sport right now–it requires so much equipment to get into. You need to be protected from the elements, buy skis, live in a mountain town. All of that is so unaffordable. Every time I see a family on a ski vacation it kind of blows my mind thinking about the money they had to spend to get here. I've been working with an organization called SOS outreach that gets underserved kids into the mountains and gives them equipment and ski passes. I love to support organizations like that.

Pro riders also need to be more inclusive because they can just give off a very cliquey vibe. It's tough because anyone who wants to get outside is going to be a beginner, which is another big stigma in skiing. It's like "you can't turn, you can't hang out with us."

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