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Jackie Paaso Raises the Bar

Jackie Paaso, the second female in over a decade to win the Sickbird Award, discusses her motivation and off-season training secret that allows her to raise the level of competition for all skiers.
By Brigid Mander
image-jackie main
Photograph by Alex Witkowicz

Just a few years ago, after a move to Squaw Valley, CA, a low-key East Coast mogul skier blew onto the competitive big mountain scene, with aggressive lines, strong skiing, and memorable airs. The skier even snatched one of skiing’s most coveted awards for impressive and well-executed airs right out from under the noses of the usual suspects for winning it. With that, Jackie Paaso became only the second female in over a decade to win the Sickbird Award. And that is how the ski world got to know Jackie. 

Now, four years after her memorable entrance on the Freeskiing World Tour, Paaso still is based in Tahoe, but she finds herself traveling the world for ski competitions and filming with Warren Miller Entertainment more than at home. Since 2008 Paaso has had many successful appearances on the invite-only Freeride World Tour, and she is gearing up for another big season of competition on the freeskiing circuit. Intent on pushing the envelope, Jackie doesn’t plan to rest on her laurels anytime soon. Aside from her personal goals, she wants to help raise the level at which the women compete and ski. She is guaranteed to change the women’s scene, and leave it better than she found it.

After her double-dropping, Sickbird-winning debut, Paaso has kept her bar high, and in doing so, forces other competitors – men and women - to see what can be done and push themselves as well. Paaso again made waves in competition when she hit a nearly 50-foot air onto less than optimal snow, with the highest score of the day overall (male and female) to win the women’s contest in the 2010 Nissan Freeride World tour stop at Squaw. “I want to compare my skiing to the guys. That’s my goal – to just be the best skier I can be personally,” she said. 

Paaso is part of an elite crew, and she no longer needs to only look to the men for inspiration. Some of her fellows on the comp circuit, such as Sweden’s Janette and Christine Hargin, and Norway’s Ane Enderud, and the USA’s Crystal Wright are a few of the skiers that come to mind when Paaso thinks of how the level is being pushed up. “The more the amount of girls out there pushing it, the more younger girls will be motivated to get out there and push it.”

Off-snow training in the summers consists of downhill mountain biking, which, Paaso says, is as close as one can get to skiing without skiing. The intensity, physical and mental requirements are just what she needs to keep focused and sharp for the upcoming season of skiing. These are things she will need, in order to chase her goals of winning as many competitions as possible next season, create more adventures, and become more involved in filming.  

You can check out Jackie Paaso and fellow skier Aurelien Ducroz in shredding lines in Arctic Norway in the this year's Warren Miller flick Flow State.