I don’t know if her parents knew this when they named her, but “Elyse” actually means “girl who rips, shreds, and hucks snowy white mountains.” I don’t have a source on that, but I’m pretty sure it’s scientific knowledge. Subsequently, when it comes to killing it on the hill, Elyse has that down to a science, too.
Elyse is so passionate about skiing that her BFF-pro-rider-fiancé Cody Townsend has to put a curfew on ski talk. She loves skiing “so much that she can't read ski magazines, watch ski movies or really talk about skiing within two hours of bed time,” he says. Elyse’s love for the sport radiates, and I believe in turn, enables her to accomplish her goals with rare positivity.
I was in France in 2009 right after the Freeride World Tour had stopped in Squaw Valley. I ran into a crazy freeride Frenchman by the name of Thomas Diet and immediately asked how the competition had gone in Squaw. The first thing he said was not regarding the winning male, it was about the winning female:
“Yeah. man,” he said in rough French accent. “You know thees chick, air name is Eeleese?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“She like, heet de same cleef as me, but she went beegar… like… for sure.”
This is Elyse Saugstad… The girl that put together a run on the Freeride World Tour that was on par with any of the men’s runs that day. Which is exactly in line with what Elyse wants to do in skiing. “My mission is to show other female athletes that it is possible to do what the men are doing and to positively progress how the ski industry views female skiers.” After finding that video and watching it at least ten times, I knew that this marked a momentous time in the history of women’s skiing.
“Women are inspired by what they think is attainable. It takes visible awareness to get more women to try new feats,” she says.
Thank you for giving us visible awareness Elyse. I, for one, look forward to many more years of inspiration.