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Free Spirit or Homeless…

Photo: Will Wissman

With nearly 10,000 miles driven so far this winter and one flight to the other side of the world, the interpersonal complications of travel seem to be setting in.

On one hand, this is the freest time of my life, that I am lucky to have and completely grateful for. I have no commitments, no weight, no plans (although loads of baggage). My only master is Mother Nature and I am free to make moves completely at the whim of the NOAA forecast. Because of this unrestricted lifestyle, I get the goods as much as possible. I have skied most of the epic days of the season in Utah, I got face shots galore in Japan, I have rushed to Jackson at the mention of precipitation, I have hauled ass to Canada for heli time, I slashed blower pow in Aspen and I even drove all night to catch the one storm of the season in Tahoe, just to drive all night back to Utah 3 days later to ski what may be the best day I have ever had.

For all intensive purposes, I am winning. Killing it really. Healthy, carefree and storm chasing. This is what it is all about right? Dream catching to say the least…

Then there is the other side, the lonely side of travel. Before a short but sweet 3 days at home, I hadn’t been home in 2 months and a week. I had scarce slept in the same bed for more than 2 nights and I had begun a morning routine of spending about 30 seconds trying to figure out where the hell I was. Comfortable as it may be to essentially live out of your Subaru, as dirty rumpled bits of my life fall out of my car on to some random slushy street, I begin to feel homeless. A lonely wanderer only passing though… I miss my bed, my friends, my cat, my community. I miss routine and the familiar comfort of home. As much as I travel, and as much as I stay in certain places, I do begin to feel at home away from home. Then there is the stinging realization that I will have to soon leave these communities as well, and when I am home, I will miss the people from the road.

I would never consider myself a homebody and it surprises me wildly that the wear of travel has begun to surface. Nor would I have it any other way. I know come late spring, after about 2 weeks at home, I will get antsy and begin to crave and plan the next adventure. In light of this juxtaposition, I am finding a new appreciation and desire for balance.

The road is wonderful. It is heart warming to think of the pockets of friendly faces that scatter the west. The times I share some of the best days of my life with complete strangers reminds me of the power of the love of our sport and the way this world can bring people together.

For all those who have let me stay at their place, listened to my cat jokes on the chair or chivalrously broken the trail in front of me, thank you. All of you have make me feel welcome no matter where in this crazy world I am. To everyone at home, I miss you so dearly and I think everyday how lucky I am to have the most amazing place and people to go home to. The value of community has never been more clear to me and I am learning to build that into my life no matter where the road takes me. The cliché you need roots to have wings fits this scenario perfectly.

For me, balance is key. Appreciating the gifts of adventure and of home equally, enjoying each as much as possible when they are in front of me. The voyage does not stop here for me. There are still many miles to be driven, many snowflakes to fall and many more great days to be had. And while I look forward to the rest of winter with brilliant anticipation, I also look forward to spring time and the nice relaxing settle down of coming home.

Recommendations for the Road:

  • Podcasts and audio-books, you will loose your voice if you only sing along to the stereo blasting Michael Bolton (trust me, I know). My favorites right now? Podcasts: Serial and Invisabilia. Audio book: Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
  • Water water water- my solution to everything really, but don’t try to skimp time on pee breaks!
  • 7mph over the limit- safe from a pull over but fast enough to make killer time
  • Pack snacks!
  • Peanut is a must- duck tape two tennis balls together and use it as a back massager, hip cramp reliever, hamstring roller and more, all while behind the wheel.
  • When in doubt- Cher it out.
amie Mar 07, 2015 Uncategorized 0 Comment Read More

Dreams, dreams, dreams…

Photo: Will Wissman

And they are all coming true! I write this from a place I have dreamed about for maybe my whole life. As a little girl I would watch ski movies with my dad in front of and behind the lens and would think, I want to do that… About 5 years ago when I decided to take my college degree and become a professional skier with it, I set out some simple goals, outlines really, of things I thought it would be really cool to accomplish. One: heli ski. Duh. Two: film with Warren Miller… Well here I am heli skiing at Mike Weigele’s and filming a K2 segment for Warren Miller… Um, pinch me?

Last winter was a bit of a struggle. Hopes and dreams seemed to be perfectly in sight but just out of reach. After a summer of surgery, rehab, counseling and soul searching… This winter was going to be different. Sure enough, it has been beyond great so far. Mother nature hasn’t exactly been on our side, anywhere, but somehow, I have been doing my best to stay positive and enjoy the little things.

Oh, well, and I got to go to the land of POW… Japan. My 2015 started out with 12 days at Kiroro Resort in Hokkaido, Japan. It was incredible. I was over there with my lady shred crew, McKenna Peterson, Lexi DuPont and Pip Hunt, along with Will Wissman and my dad, Jeff “The Captain” Engerbretson and we were filming for Smith Optics. The trip was killer. We had tons of snow. Fun skiing. Silliness in abundance off the hill. Naked onsens (great for the self confidence) and I even got to end the trip with what felt like an all time Michael Bolton Karaoke performance. It was just what I needed. A perfect reminder of how blissful skiing is and how good it makes me feel.

JaPOW!!! Photo: Will Wissman

North America is not quite as snowy and joyous as Japan, but winter is still rolling on. I am back to smelly Subaru living. Now, after 23 some odd hours of driving north. I am huddled up in the most luxurious, food filled chalet of my dreams waiting for the green light.

Smiling…

amie Feb 09, 2015 Uncategorized Comments Off on Dreams, dreams, dreams… Read More

Road Warrior

Roads, roads, roads…

 I saw a lot of road this winter; 11,285 miles to be exact. This road took me up, down and all around. I saw new places, familiar places and some places so much, I thought I lived there. My Subaru became my home, therapist and gallant steed that took me anywhere NOAA said a storm was hitting. And like winter road trips do, eventually led me to summer.

My journey started on a quick whim. It looked like Jackson was about to get pounded, and I had not skied pow since a particularly stupidly placed turn in Grizzly Gulch, Utah, a few weeks prior. It was more than time to get back out, start making good decisions and having fun. I packed up my car with everything I may need  (plus additional luxuries like cowboy boots for the possible impromptu line dancing adventures I hoped awaited me) and left, having no idea when I would come back, but assuming it would be whenever Tahoe was graced with some white fluffy stuff.

As most of you know, Tahoe never really got it this year unfortunately. For me, that meant I didn’t come home. My roommates’ diets took a turn for the worse, my cat forgot my name and my fluffy bed became covered in dust (and whoever was crashing there in my absence.). I went from Jackson to Utah to Revelstoke, back to Utah, back to Jackson, to Utah again, to Sun Valley, Oregon, and Washington. I was waking up every morning, looking at the weather and avalanche reports everywhere within driving distance, which for me was about a 20-hour radius.

 

The adventures were limitless. Beyond countless, dreamy, stormy pow turns and I was just going, going, going, and not stopping. I learned many things on this part of my journey. I have a mental map of the gas stations of the west with the most drinkable tap water and stomach-able cheap coffee. I learned Arby’s gives me horrible gas. Convenience store employees give weird looks when you fill up shopping bags of ice and leave without buying something, and it is much better to have an injured left leg than right for icing on 10+ hour trips, although both can be managed. I discovered Revelstoke is the best place in the west for hairwhips on a Tuesday night and no one will ever mind if you throw an unplanned line dancing party at a dive bar with a crew of hot ladies and one dude in Pit Vipers. Trees hug back if you give them a chance and any cat will do for an evening snug. I developed a long-thought-over-theory that my love of skiing and the insane amount of boot packing I do are 100% responsible for the fact that I cannot twerk.  In this span of time, my money when to four main places—gas, beer, ibuprofen and pizza. I worked through an array of emotions, the product of an excessive amount of time left alone with my own mind, listening to a soundtrack of Cher, moody love songs, Iggy Azeala white girl rap, and a bit of that hipster alternative business mixed in. It’s amazing how many different feelings can be generated from my Spotify starred playlist. My car developed an incredible stench, which I am assuming is a key factor in why I am still single. I discovered that 85 mph + ski rack + a headwind do not add up to deliver the great gas millage Subaru promises.

 

The bliss of skiing powder had returned. I was completely unattached, able to go where I wished, and having killer time. I was meeting new people and fostering new mountain-based friendships. I was also working hard to gain the respect of my peers as well as personal respect for myself; making smart decisions, learning to trust my environment and myself again. Things were going great. As good as I could have ever hoped. I was headed up to Washington, driving through a killer storm that was delivering feet upon feet of snow at Crystal Mountain Resort. I was looking forward to two dream trips in my near future. The first, a K2 girls trip to Revelstoke to film for Pretty Faces, a trip I had pedaled and meddled for months to pull together. The second, a lady shred trip to Irwin in Crested Butte with a team of my idols. I was looking at my first time heli skiing and first time cat skiing in my near future. I was ecstatic for the kind of opportunities I have been working and waiting for since the journey of being a skier began, waiting for me right around the corner. I remember driving through that crazy Washington blizzard in the middle of the night, and I just couldn’t stop smiling. Stoked, psyched, amped… whatever, I was happy.

Two days later, my winter took a big turn. I was up shooting still photos inbounds at Crystal Mountain on one of the deepest powder days of my life, when I hit an air in a treed area of open terrain. Upon my landing, a narrow pocket of snow released and immediately pulled me under and drug me down the slope. I was flipped face down in the snow, head down slope, snow completely filling my mouth, unable to fight against the force, and filled with the dreadful thought, “No. Not again.” Eventually I was able to deploy my airbag and was spit out to the side. The pocket was narrow, with about a one-foot crown, I was carried about 400 feet down slope and eventually found my other ski another 700 feet down in the debris. Once the notion was clear that I wasn’t buried or wrapped around a tree, a sharp pain in my right knee made itself very apparent.

I tore my MCL that day at Crystal, an injury that most definitely changed the course of my winter. While thankfully I did not need surgery, I would not be skiing at all for a while. I was unable to go on either of my film trips, and was devastated to say the least. I was wounded, yet disappointed to let some dreams creep by un-caught, of course. Worst of all? I was shaken as all hell. I thought I had gone through my “scary” experience for a while. I was left in a weird place where the thing I had loved most all my life, now put a fear in my gut like I had never known.

With a bum knee, I still had a lucky streak this winter and was able to spend a hobbly month announcing and hosting for the Freeride World Tour. I talked a lot about skiing, smiled too much, drank a bunch, danced with some Euros and ended up having a pretty fun time. Splurging for the expensive knee brace, I found myself back on skis one month after my injury. From a medical stand point, it was a bit too early to go back, but I found a way to manage. I was unwilling to accept defeat, and I begun scraping back together the momentum.

Photo: Jay Dash, FWT

My search for powder had begun again, and while there was no hucking or even full strength skiing for me the rest of my winter, there were still plenty of toothful right and left turns. I struggled the rest of the season physically and mentally. I was scraping desperately to accomplish something, anything, while battling a knee that wouldn’t bend much and a mind that wouldn’t stop being freaked out. The rest of my season felt a lot like when you come to end of a big bowl of ice cream. There is still ice cream left, you can see it, though you scrape and scrape with your spoon, you never seem to get much more ice cream in your mouth.

I scraped around the west, my car stunk more and while I was getting somewhere, I was aware that I wasn’t going to get where I had imagined at the beginning of the season. Disappointment was the new theme for my journey. It is a fact of life, definitely the name of the game for a skier. Regardless, it wasn’t stopping me, I knew I was going down, but I was going down swinging.

Smiles in Big Sky Montana with pockets full of candy after a day of skiing with legend Scott Schmidt at the Yellowstone Club. Photo: Jeff Engerbretson

While I do stand on the other side of this season with barrels of frustration and so many dreams and desires unmet, it wasn’t all negative at the end. One of my lifelong dreams did come true one day in April. Heli skiing. Yup, I finally discovered what all the hype is about. It is rad. A few years ago, just after graduating college and deciding to become a ski bum with my degree, one of the only goals I could settle on was to go heli skiing. Now there is a big old check next to that one! I’ll admit, it will most likely be the start of a long and frustrating addiction, but I’m into it. I drove almost 30 hours for one day… totally worth it.

Photo: Re Wikstrom

Now looking back at photos and trying to pile my season into appealing emails that will make my sponsors not want to dump me, I have a lot of odd feelings. I find it is normal not to be satisfied at the end of the season, we all, skiers in general, always want more. That is what keeps us at it. I have some demons to short through for sure. To this day the thought of a deep pow turn makes me smile and feel elated, yet shudder in fear at the same time. I cannot even try to explain what an odd dichotomy that is. But now, for me, it is time to get out the sifter, go through the negatives, evaluate them and let them fall through the cracks. What is left is a lot of pow skied, miles driven, laughs snorted and lessons learned. Most of all? A deeper hunger for next winter than I have ever known.

Happy summer. Stay hungry.

Squaw saved the best for last, my last day of the season.

Squaw saved the best for last, my last day of the season. Photo: Jason Abraham

amie May 23, 2014 Uncategorized 1 Comment Read More

Blind Spot

Beautiful bluebird at Alta Ski Area

We all know the feeling when you are cruising down the freeway, feeling good, with some great music playing. Feeling confident, you just ease on over into the next lane, and BEEEP! You jerk and swerve back into your lane, narrowly avoiding disaster. Although we have been told and trained our entire lives to check our blind spot, sometimes you just don’t.

Monday (Dec. 9th 2013) was one of those beautiful blue bird Utah days that we dream about. The sun was shinning, not a cloud in sight, and there were endless pockets of cold, light and dry Utah powder everywhere. I am a Lake Tahoe, CA, native and was out visiting Utah to ski some early season snow, host the red carpet at the Powder Video Awards, and was hoping to get some still shooting in. It was my last day in Utah and finally a great shoot day.

It was early season, but the conditions were crushing for taking classic Utah pow shots. I spent the morning hiking a little untracked shoulder in bounds at Alta Ski Area for one photographer, and as I was headed in for lunch I got the call that another photographer/friend I wanted to work with was out and wanted to meet up. Skipping lunch, I rushed over to meet up with him and another female skier. It was my first time meeting and skiing with the other athlete and it was my first time shooting with this photographer, though we had spent a great deal of shred time together over the past week.

Getting a shot early am with photographer #1. Photo credit: Mike Rogge

Getting a shot early am with photographer #1. Photo: Mike Rogge

We grabbed a couple shots in bounds, full of laughs and smiles. We all joked that it was almost like cheating because it was so beautiful, the snow was so good and the shots were so easy. It was the kind of day I had hoped for all week. My first true shoot day of the year, I was fired up to say the least. It was the kind of thing I live for. Beautiful snow, smiling and turning, getting some fun mellow work done. I think we all felt the same.

We decided with the great snow and the beautiful afternoon light to keep shooting. The other skier and photographer unanimously decided to go hit up a zone at the base of Grizzly Gulch. They talked about how it was the money spot, where multiple covers of Powder magazine had come from, and how it was a great small, safe spot to get some bangers. After the later events of the day and talking with many local athletes and photographers, I learned that zone at the base of Grizzly Gulch is a place where many people go on dangerous days to shoot, and is often thought of as a safe zone. We all stopped at the base, me and the other athlete ran to the car to get our avy backpacks and a couple snacks then hopped on the rope tow to make our way to the other side of the resort. We laughed and joked the whole way over, sharing childhood ski stories and still enjoying a truly amazing day.

We took a cat-track, eventually traversing out of the ski area boundary, popped off our skis and started the short (less than 10 min.) boot pack up to the money spot. We talked very briefly about the snow and safety at the top. Checking the area, we didn’t see any visible signs of instability or recent activity, and it was mentioned that the slope had been skied recently. We realized that the other skier had her pack (not an airbag) but had forgotten her beacon and that the photographer didn’t have backcountry gear. Our plan was to keep it mellow, safe, get a shot or two and head back.

We decided on a plan of action for the shots, the photographer got into position, and the other skier and I hiked up further for speed. We had the shot lined up, I was to go first. I offered for the other skier to take the first shot, reasoning she had shot here a million times and knew the mark, but we decided I would go first as she had a cell phone, mine was dead, and could talk to the photographer about the next shot. I was all set, as she yelled dropping I took slight notice of two hikers across the ravine that seemed to be watching and had the fleeting thought that should something crazy happen, at least there are eyes over there. I whizzed by two other hikers making their way up, dropped in, hit my mark with a beautiful (feeling) deep Utah slash turn.

As I was finishing my turn, everything changed. I saw cracks everywhere and felt the undeniable shift of the snow beneath me. At that moment the knowledge and training that I do have, that had been previously neglected throughout the day, kicked in. I swiftly and easily pulled my airbag trigger and felt it inflate. I saw some small trees diagonally to my right and knew that was my only chance. I did not want to go into the ditch. I managed to stay upright, swimming with all I had, and made it to the trees. I grabbed onto the trees and felt the airbag getting caught on them, possibly helping me stay there as snow rushed around me. Then something happened and the snow had new strength, ripping me from the trees. After later talking to the photographer, I learned that the entire slope above me sympathetically released and took me down.

avi1

Photo: www.UtahAvalancheCenter.org

As soon as I was pulled from the trees, I knew this was a worst-case scenario. I was headed for a steep, deep, terrain trap with powerful deep snow all around me. The words of my Avy 1 instructor, Lel Tone, took over my mind. I grabbed the side of my helmet, creating a protective “V” shape in front of my mouth. I was tossed and tumbled and pretty quickly came to rest and snow completely covered by face and head. Later information report on the Utah Avalanche Center website stated the width of the slide was 150 feet, the length was over 100 vertical feet, the crown was 2 feet deep and I was burred about a half meter (1.5 feet) under the snow. Without an airbag I would have likely been buried 1.5-2 meters under the snow.

For a millisecond, panic started to creep in, but Lel’s voice came back. I had an inch or so air pocket in front of my mouth. I closed my eyes, didn’t try to move, and started to breathe slowly. Within what I believe to be 20-30 seconds, I felt and heard movement on top of me. I later learned the photographer was the first to get to me, saw the tip of my pole sticking out of the snow. He began clearing the snow as the other rescuers arrived. Shortly after I felt a probe strike my right arm. I gave a few loud yells that were unheard. I heard the digging and felt the pressure lessen. They uncovered my right hand first, grabbed and squeezed it. I squeezed back. Shortly after, snow was swept away from my face. As I took a deep breath in, I saw the relieved face of the photographer, quite possibly the best thing I have ever seen.

avi2

Photo: www.UtahAvalancheCenter.org

My rescuers included the photographer and three people I did not know. They asked if I was hurt, I said I didn’t think so but I had peed my pants; clearly I was scared. They located my limbs, one ski was still attached and they got me fully out quickly. I stood up, trembling; amazed at what happed and that I wasn’t hurt. A rush of immense gratitude took over towards these strangers who had put themselves in danger to save me. Soon after a rush of utter stupidity came over me as my eyes awoke to all the warning signs around us.

avi3

Photo: www.UtahAvalancheCenter.org

There was hang fire and lots of people above us, so we got out of the area quickly. My other ski was lost in the deep pile of snow and we didn’t want to spend time in danger to look for it. I was using a borrowed airbag pack, a different brand from my usual one, and did not know how to deflate it so I hiked up the sugary, bushy slope with both balloons still full of air.

Once out of the ditch and in safe zone, we said goodbye to my rescuers. The photographer and I Googled how to deflate the airbag and signaled to the other skier in our crew who was still across the ravine above the slide, to meet us as the bottom. I clicked into my one ski and we slowly made our way down the cat track to the road. A police officer was waiting for us at the bottom, got our information and gave us a ride back to the Alta parking lot.

The emotional aftermath of this incident was something I didn’t expect. While I was shaken, relieved and shocked, I mostly felt incredibly stupid and utterly disappointed with myself. As we were walking out of the ditch, we saw recent avalanche activity on the slope right next to where I skied, that we did not see from above. We recalled the avy report that both the photographer and I had read separately that morning, saying there was considerable danger for skier triggered avalanches on northern aspects above 8,000 feet. That was exactly where I had skied, and there was a massive terrain trap right below me. I knew that the accident report was going to be one that if I had read it about someone else I would have thought, “Wow. Those guys were idiots.”

I realized that I had just been a primary witness to the most dangerous aspect of backcountry travel—the human factor. I am relatively new to backcountry skiing, having only completed the classroom portion of my avy 1 course, yet due to my lack of experience have been an overly cautious person when it comes to snow safety. I knew the photographer was experienced in the backcountry and felt him to be cautious and trustworthy. I did not know the other skier, but knew she was familiar with the area and both my companions were very confident in the safety of the area. It was a classic example of a false sense of security on their part, and me putting too much faith in the locals to the area and not thinking to ask questions.

The lesson we are all taking from this is it can happen to any of us, even when we thought it never could. We let the utter awesomeness of the day outshine any warning signs or information that could have helped us make a better decision. We got caught up in doing what we love, forgetting how early in the season it was. And most of all, we were overconfident with a false sense of security in the terrain because of familiarity.

When it comes down to it, we didn’t check our blind spot. I have always thought I was too smart to make that mistake, but I did. At some point we all have. I am truly grateful that the situation was not worse. I am grateful that from the moment everything went wrong, everything went  right. I am forever thankful to my rescuers who were smarter and more prepared than us. Most importantly, I am grateful that this can be a wake up and a lesson in humility for me, and everyone one like me, to stay smart, not forget to use our brains and to always check our blind spots.

To read the full accident report, please visit the Utah Avalanche Center: http://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanches/18960

amie Dec 12, 2013 Uncategorized 98 Comments Read More

Chillen in Chile

Buenos dias Chile!

Buenos dias Chile!

There is no polite way to get out of an unwanted grinding sesh with an older Chilean man.  You think you have been invited to the dance floor for a cultural Salsa dance and all the sudden, you are trapped, unable to break free, getting lower and lower and… dios mio!

This August I had the privilege of being invited down to Chile with Smith Optics for the marketing photo shoot. I was in great company with Mark Abma and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, as well as a slew of rad snowboarders ar Nevados de Chillan. After many hours on a plane, and more hours on a bus, we turned onto a bumpy dirt road that climbed up to the base of a skier’s oasis. Tucked in the moss-covered trees, the Nevados de Chillan Hotel served as host for grown up ski and board summer camp. In the center of the lodge was a big natural, ashy hot spring that served as the perfect place to ease the ache of jumping back into winter, getting to know some new friends, and tasting my first (of many) pisco sours!

Steamy hot springs coupled with a classic Chilean sunset.

Steamy hot springs coupled with a classic Chilean sunset.

Up on the hill, Nevados de Chillan offers a rolling, undulating, wind-lipped paradise. We got served up some lovely spring shred conditions with a little rain, abundant sunshine and tons of slushy fun. After photo sessions, I had the (every little ski girl’s fantasy) opportunity to bop around with Abma and Sage. Lucky me. I have skied, even pond skimmed, with Abma before and was excited to do more of that, but I had never skied or spent much time with Sage. He is awesome. I had a blast just watching him schucss around and bounce from feature to feature like a Mario Man game. The way he looked at terrain and the confidence with which he skied are two things I will never forget. When we stopped skiing, the fun didn’t. Sage is an animated, killer storyteller and Abma was the best pisco partner out! The snowboarders were cool too (really cool).

Beautiful views for days.

Beautiful views for days.

Nightlife consisted of family dinners and hanging in the lodge bar while enthusiastic hosts tried to rally us into Salsa lessons, karaoke, twerk offs… We mostly spent the nights sipping beverages, chatting and laughing. One night, we decided to venture over to the casino, the nighttime highlight of the area. I, not much of a gambler, immediately honed in on the Chilean line dance party happening in the back and jumped right in (literally).  After hours of hair whips, attempted twerks, cheek kissing and multiple photos with random Chilean men taken by their wives, drenched in sweat we closed the place down, literally being kicked out for dancing to the clean up crew’s music.

Don't mind if I do...

Don’t mind if I do…

It was a great time and a wonderful introduction to South American skiing. I learned I like pisco, I can’t twerk, Sage is legit, and, when in doubt, grind it out! Until next time Chile…

Can you you say crazy skies! I was so busy looking at the sunset I almost missed this!

Can you you say crazy skies! I was so busy looking at the sunset I almost missed this!

Special thanks to Smith Optics, Powder Quest www.powderquest.com ,and Nevados de Chillan  www.nevadosdechillan.com.

amie Sep 05, 2013 Uncategorized 3 Comments Read More

Swiss Cats

Three fine cats crawling up the Swiss walls!

Three fine cats crawling up the Swiss walls!

Un, deux, trois, CATS! Oh wait, I think it is actually quatre, ya know four en français. Regardless, over the past few weeks, when I was hanging with my girls Pip Hunt and McKenna Peterson, things got pretty catty, but in such a good way!

A couple of days into our K2 all-girls ski trip to Murren, Switzerland, it became clear that I was not going to be able to keep my inner cat-woman secret for long. I kept having the urge to purr, and I didn’t want to keep it in.

It started when we saw a cute little pus pus cross our path on the charming Swiss walkway and I meowed at it. Yup. They thought I was nuts. Then, when we were in a little gift shop I found the jackpot of mini, furry cat statues. Of course, I proceeded to coo over them and snap Insta-selfies with the fake little cats… Very nuts.

An example of one such insta pic.

An example of one such insta pic.

I figured it would be good to bring the girls into my little cat world, so on down days I started sharing some of my favorite cat videos. (See examples below)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awf45u6zrP0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtX8nswnUKU]

Oh here’s one more, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

#rickrolled

They LOVED them!

By the middle of the trip, cat terms had become commonplace in our conversations. I was so happy, like a cat in a bird sanctuary. My BF and roomies even sent me a mid-trip pump up video from my own cat Charlie! (Video is being kept private to protect Charlie’s privacy) Instead of shouting “dropping” to our cameraman, it was replaced with, “Three, two, one, Meow!” The girls didn’t even blink when I would trespass on to some Swiss front porch just to pet and cuddle a furry friend!

My new Swiss friend.

My new Swiss friend.

Coolest invention I have ever seen! A little cat ladder so the pussy can sit in the windowsill.

Coolest invention I have ever seen! A little cat ladder so the pussy can sit in the windowsill.

Some Schiltorn action!

Some Schiltorn action!

Cool cats never miss après!

Cool cats never miss après!

It was a cat-tastic time. As we were shredding pow, dropping rocks, flying high in the sky and dodging avies (with cat-like agility) it was as if we were Swiss cat skiing. We had the ninja spirit of Mr. Meowgie with us the whole time. We were not just the infamous “Shiltorn Girls” who shredded the Piz Gloria for all the adoring Swiss fans and friends to watch, we were three fine puss… okay not that kitty word, but we were some damn cool cats!

McKenna Peterson making the most of the grey bird pow.

McKenna Peterson making the most of the grey bird pow.

Post paraponting happiness! Thank you AirTime Paraponting for the awesome ride!

Post paraponting happiness! Thank you AirTime Paraponting for the awesome ride!

Pole dancing in the tram, too bad our only audience was the very confused tram operator...

Pole dancing in the tram, too bad our only audience was the very confused tram operator…

Meow! We may be a little coco for coco puffs..

Meow! We may be a little coco for coco puffs..

P.S. We preferred fine Swiss butter to lapping milk. FYI.

Special Thanks:

The Shilthorn Bahn in Murren Switzerland http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/

The Hotel Jungfrau and Alan Ramsay and Family http://www.hoteljungfrau.ch/en/home

Airtime Paragliding http://airtime-paragliding.ch

K2 Skis and the K2 Ski Alliance http://skeeze.k2skis.com

And the most wonderful guide in the Jungfrau region. Hannes Stahli!

amie Apr 18, 2013 Uncategorized Comments Off on Swiss Cats Read More

Stretch Pants, Snowblades and Smiles—P.M.S Baby!

Oh yeah snowblade swafy!

Oh yeah snowblade swafy!

No cramps, mood swings or unexplained tears…no, that is not the P.M.S. I’m referring to. I’m talking about the Pain McShlonkey Classic, or as I refer to it, the greatest weekend of the season!

I must say, I love to ski, and there are tons of amazing/awesome/wonderful things that happen throughout a season, but P.M.S. weekend is hands down the most fun I have on snow all year. My smile never fades and my six-pack gets better from the laughs.

This year was no exception. My best party pal, Rachael Burks, was able to make it for the second year and rounding out the lady snowblade, shred, party crew was Jackie Passo. The weekend kicked off with the Arabian Nights themed Gala, which at first sound like it could be a disaster of a theme and turned out to be amazing. Everyone had killer costumes, looking oh so beautiful. Myself, being a white ski chick mid-winter opted for a spray tan as part of the costume. The moral of that story is orange can be medium hot…

Burks is one hell of a hot magic carpet!

Burks is one hell of a hot magic carpet!

The next morning, the brutal turning point of the weekend, we woke up, battled the hangover and were snowblade ready by 8 a.m. This could have been an arduous task, but I had myself some of the 2014 Perfect Moment line up to slip into—red, white and blue stretch pants. With a matching jacket! And a handcrafted cape with an “A” on the back! Now who could have the hangover grumpies while rocking those digs? Not me.

Ta Da!!!

Ta Da!!!

And the hangover didn’t slow me down. I am now the proud owner of a Golden Saucer Trophy for claiming the win in the ladies in the Snowblade Hotdog (Because calling it a “Chinese Downhill” is racist) Downhill! Not quite sure how I pulled this one off as I saw death coming multiple times on the way down. As I made my way into the lower section of heinous ice rubble, hot leg burn in full effect, I found my only inspiration being neck and neck with Scott Gaffney. He was wearing a spandex, one-piece, ice-skating costume as we grunted and panted down the course. I rounded into the finish coral and kicked a snowblade shoe as I was running up to the finish line. I was hobbling a bit slowly when someone shouted, “Watch the bird!” And just then a huge bird tried to buzz me into the finish.

Yeah, I don’t think so.

I snagged that bird, who turned out to be a lady, by the back of the neck, threw her backwards, ran up and dove into the finish for the win. One rule – there are no rules!

See that bird back there? Got no chance.

See that bird back there? Got no chance.

Victory face!

Victory face!

Hours later, as the high of my win dwindled, my hangover started to creep. Sitting on top of a cliff zone with snowblades on and suffering from the spins is a little daunting. For the small mountain comp, I must say I was not at my finest, but I nailed my mid-run worn turn (so sick) and then horribly failed at my 360 attempt. The other ladies crushed it. Burks but on a 007 show, pyrotechnics and all, while Passo, ya know, did Jackie Passo things and hucked! At the end though it was Quincy Young in her Lindsey Vonn get up, fast tuck, and cute booty, got here the W for the ladies small mountain event. Oh ya, and Timy Dutton did something sweet to win the men’s. Good job Timy!

The rest of the afternoon involved beers, sun bathing, stretch pant strutting and snowblade hot laps in the park with the infamous camel (made up of two snowbladers, Mat Jackson and Greg Lindsey), and trophy accepting.

Podiums are fun!

Podiums are fun!

Topping off the weekend, we had the 80’s after party to attend. I would call this crucial turning point number 2, where many a snowblader did not have the stamina to continue. Not the lady blade crew though! Jackie rocked a killer Mohawk, and Rachael teased my crimped hair within an inch of its life, we dowsed ourselves in glitter and purple eye shadow, and hit the dance floor!

Hot.

Hot.

Hotter.

Hotter.

Waking up Saturday morning it was hard to tell if the neck pain was from snowblade tumbles or ferocious hairwhips, but what was certain was that it was one heck of a good time. The three of us topped off the weekend watching G.N.A.R., laughing in awe of the incredible person Shane was. I am both happy and grateful that we get an amazing weekend to act like McConkey, and the smile still sits on my face as I write this. Now I am taking that fun and that McConkey attitude with me to go shred in Switzerland!

Thanks Shane!

Please visit the Shane McConkey Foundation website for more information and to join in the fun!  http://shanemcconkey.org

Special thank you to Rachael Burks for additional photos!

amie Apr 05, 2013 Uncategorized Comments Off on Stretch Pants, Snowblades and Smiles—P.M.S Baby! Read More

Champagne and Powder in Vail, CO

Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Photo Credit: Liam Doran

This past week I had the privilege of seeing very best of Vail. I was in town to film a new ski travel webisode series for OnTheSnow.com. The premise is going to iconic ski resorts around the world, enjoying the high-end amenities of the destination, and coupling that with incredible skiing. And that is exactly what we did.

Other that zooming by on I-70, I had never been to Vail before. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I mean I had a couple images in my mind, mostly the along the lines of some pre-fab designer village, with overly corporate undertones, and robots zooming around to carry your skis. But that’s not what Vail is all about. Instead, I found a beautiful, quaint (yet really nice of course) village that looked like it was plucked out of the Alps and translated to English. I instantly liked it.

Being a Squaw Valley girl, born and raised, I think part of me is programed to not like corporate ski giants, or any snowy slopes in Colorado for that matter. The truth is, after a few days wandering the town, skiing the (really nice) powder in the trees, and meeting the locals (like Chris Anthony—local, great guy, and awesome skier), Vail is just a town that was born out of an utter love of the mountains and skiing. And through the fur coasts, ice sculptures, and unreal spas, that is still what is at the core of the Colorado ski resort.

Some nice pow! Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Some nice pow! Photo Credit: Liam Doran

I was whisked from one fabulous thing to another, including decadent food, a beautiful suite at the Sonnenalp—a classic Austrian resort—chats with Vail’s premier residents, and luxurious spa treatments. All of this was amazing, but what I enjoyed most was finding one more place that loves to ski and enjoy the mountains as much as I do.

Enjoying the Sonnenalp Spa. Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Enjoying the Sonnenalp Spa. Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Oh, and the champagne was great too…

Stay tuned for the episode. And also, check out this web gallery I was featured in for OnTheSnow.com.

Click Here to View Gallery

Some behind the scenes action. Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Some behind the scenes action. Photo Credit: Liam Doran

Vail Vday Pow from Amie Engerbretson on Vimeo.

amie Feb 19, 2013 Uncategorized Comments Off on Champagne and Powder in Vail, CO Read More

2013 Powder Awards

PVA-2013-AE-2232

Interview with good friends and legendary ski couple Elyse Saugstad and Cody Townsend

Few events can pull athletes world wide off the slopes and away from comps and filming to the chilly, sub-zero temps of Park City, Utah. The 13th Annual Powder Video Awards was the event that did just that.

I was lucky enough to not only attend the event, but host the red carpet for the live stream of the show. A perfect venue for my Perfect Moment leather puffy jacket, the glitterati of the ski world mixed and mingled with the glamour of the Sundance Film Festival, coming together to celebrate all the accomplishments in ski movies of the past year year.

On the red carpet with Matt Sterbenz.

On the red carpet with Matt Sterbenz.

Sharing drinks and interviews with the likes of Candide Thovex, Tom Wallisch, Michelle Parker and so many more, it was a night of many memories and many accomplishments. The star of the evening was Candide Thovex where he was repeatedly praised for his movie Few Words taking home the awards for Full Throttle, Best Documentary, Best Cinematography, and Best Male Performance. Some of my other favorite moments included friend and ski pal, Michelle Parker, taking home Best Female Performance and the quirky, perfectly soundtracked, street-style ski film, Sunny by Level 1 winning their first Movie of the Year award.

Hangin with my girls Michelle Parker and Rachel Burks.

Hangin with my girls Michelle Parker and Rachel Burks.

It was a trip full of story sharing, celebration, fun drinks, fast groomers at The Canyons with the Powder Magazine staff, and lots of fancy mountain strutting! Now it is time to go out, ski and film, all with the hope of one of those trophies going home in my pocket next year.

Cheers and happy powder hunting.

Kicking off the show on the red carpet with Matt Sterbenz.

Kicking off the show on the red carpet with Matt Sterbenz.

Interview with good friend and founder of the High Fives Foundation Roy Tuscany.

Interview with good friend and founder of the High Fives Foundation Roy Tuscany.

Interview with L.J. Strenio

Interview with L.J. Strenio

amie Jan 22, 2013 Uncategorized 1 Comment Read More