ELYSE SAUGSTAD – WELCOME INTERVIEW
It was obvious to us Elyse Saugstad belonged on Le Bent's team. Not because her husband Cody Townsend’s a bona fide le family member, but because of the way she skis… she bloody rips! And that’s putting it lightly.
A third-generation Alaskan, it’s unsurprising most of Elyse’s award-winning ski segments feature a spine line that’ll blow your mind. Freeskier Magazine’s “2018 Female Skier of the Year” came down under this season with Cody to sample some of our antipodean offerings and while we didn’t ski much in the way of spines, we skied plenty of pow and struggled to keep up with Elyse and dozens of Thredbo groms as they darted amongst the snow gums. We also had the pleasure of getting Elyse in some more of our gear, knowing she’d been in Cody’s Le Send sock since its inception.
We thought we’d officially invite her to join the team. We caught up with Elyse to discuss her skiing, her time in Australia and to welcome her as the newest member of the Le Bent family.
LB: Hey Elyse, thanks for taking the time and welcome (officially) to the team!
Thanks, I’m thrilled I’m joining forces with Le Bent!
So, how’ve you been since visiting us down under? Still tucking into the vegemite and VB’s?
Ha, vegemite is just too much for my taste buds. I gave it another shot on this last trip to Aus and quickly reminded myself that I am not a fan.
In all seriousness though, what did you think of Aus? You’d been before but how did you find the skiing down under?
Australia is an F-ing amazing country and visiting again rekindled the love I had previously developed for it. Cody Townsend and I totally scored with the storm of the winter, which made for a fabulous experience. The mountains may not be as big and steep as they are in Alaska, but the terrain is playful and ultimately really fun. There are so many ways to be entertained on skis that it was impossible not to have a good time!
Of course, you visited with Cody to help put the finishing touches on his Le Send sock. What did you think when Cody first started to work on that?
I thought it was a great idea. As an athlete sometimes the brands we work with are so large that they are not interested in our feedback and ideas, and for us athletes that can be a bit of a bummer as we put so much time into what we do and really know what works and doesn’t in regards to our gear. So when Cody was approached by Le Bent and they gave him carte blanche to design the best backcountry sock possible it became the perfect pairing, so to speak, between the two. I got to test the socks all last winter, and as good as they are I found they could use a few tweaks specific for the ladies.
Whereas Cody lives on the skin track these days, you’re the one jumping out of helis and putting together the adrenaline pumping, show stopping segments. Congrats on taking out IF3’s “Best Female Freeride Performance” for your part in Winterland! We went to the premiere in Sydney and your part was definitely a crowd favourite. How does that segment compare to some of your others like All Us?
Thanks for the props! My segment for Winterland was essentially building upon what I’ve accomplished previously in my career. Not in the sense of the actual skiing as my segment in Winterland is not above and beyond my past few years of ski segments with TGR and MSP, but I’ve finally got a bit of traction going from my filming over the last few years and received the offer to join TGR on their highly coveted, marquee, big-budget Alaska trip. I was viewed as someone that could perform in big terrain and be worthy to film. There’s so much money, production and logistics going into a trip like that you understandably have to prove beforehand that you deserve to be there. Getting this opportunity was something I’ve worked towards my entire career so it was quite special.
It’s not always serious shredding with you and Cody though is it? For example, ‘It’s called backcountry skiing’ and the recent Mica Heliskiing vid… How important is not taking yourself too seriously and having a bit of fun with the video parts too?
Yes, even though the skiing portion of those edits were still full on, intense days filled with pressure to get the shots (it’s work!) Cody and I feel that we ski because it’s fun, and in the grand scheme of things it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We are really lucky to call skiing our jobs. Plus, audiences don’t need to be reminded of work as skiing is an escape for them. It’s all about perception - so why bother getting your panties in a wad when you can choose to just enjoy the moment.
When you visited, we skied with a bunch of groms from the Thredbo Mountain Academy and we know a lot of the girls loved getting a chance to ski with you and ask questions. What words of wisdom do you normally tell young girls and boys about being a professional skier?
There’s lots I’ve learned over the years of being a professional skier so really it’s almost too broad of a question. That being said, I think that the underlying need to becoming a professional skier is having a ridiculous amount of passion for the sport. If you have the passion it will carry you through the lows you’ll surely experience as well as it will inspire you to continually work hard during the highs so you don’t become stagnant.
Speaking of words of wisdom, what would you like to see from us at Le Bent?
Complete and utter domination of the outdoor world’s sock industry!
Other than the Le Send sock what other gear of ours would we find you in?
The neck gaiters are all time. They’re soft, breathable and warm. My face is the most sensitive spot on my body so the products that I use for it need to be the best quality possible.
While you obviously managed some riding in the Southern Hemisphere with us, your northern hemi season is about to kick off. Can you tell us much about your plans for this season?
Chase powder and scare myself a little. Film trips usually don’t emerge until the snow starts flying and locations start taking shape, but there has been talk of filming in BC. I imagine it’ll be in the cards as the terrain and snowfall are consistently some of the best in the world.
Awesome, best of luck with those projects and we’re looking forward to seeing you in Le Bent. Yewwww.
Thanks! Stoked to be a new addition to the family.
ABOUT ELYSE SAUGSTAD
Age: Young enough to send’er and old enough to know I need to be discretionary about it
Hometown: Tahoe City, California, USA
Home Resort: Alyeska Resort, Alaska, USA
Sponsors: Blizzard/Tecnica, Orage, Scott, Alyeska Resort, Hestra, Arcade, Ortovox
Favourite Le Bent gear: Le Send Backcountry Sock
Follow Elyse here: Instagram