NEMO ambassador Caroline Gleich is a professional Big Mountain skier, but she's no one trick pony. Take a look at our exclusive interview below, and learn about her upcoming adventures and hidden talents.
N: What’s in store for this year? Tell us about the trips you have planned—snow, surf, fun, etc.
C: Current trips in the works–British Columbia, Southern Sierras, San Juans in Colorado, South America and Mont Tremblant to ski. After winter, I’d like to hit up New York to visit a friend and Southern California to surf. I’m also trying to put together a big SUP trip for the summer but am still discussing locations. All my trips start with a dream and from there it’s scheduling, organizing logistics, writing e-mails and making phone calls. Sometimes the stars just line up and planning is easy but most of the time, it involves hours/days of planning. I’m excited to be working on some cool photo and video projects with some all-star photographers and athletes. Budgets and snowfall depending, we will see what happens! 2011 is lining up to be a stellar year for me and I’m stoked to announce my most recent publication, the January cover of SKI magazine.
N: Where are your favorite place(s) to ski and why?
C: My favorite place to ski is in my backyard – the Cottonwood Canyons, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton. I like to mix and match – spend a day skiing Alta-Solitude (or Alta-tude) and Brighton-Snowbird (Bright-bird). They each have so much to offer. Alta is best to hit up when you are skiing solo because you will undoubtedly see your friends or meet new ones on the chairlifts. Snowbird is fun when you want to be social and ski in a big posse – usually I see all my friends in the tram line and we all ride down together. I love Solitude for those days I’m looking for quality, not quantity. It takes a little longer to get the top of the mountain but there are always fresh tracks to be found. Brighton is great for skiing everything – it has every kind of terrain and it is a great place to take the family as well.
I also enjoy skiing the backcountry between Little and Big Cottonwood. Those canyons receive such consistent, high quality snowfall that it’s easy to find great snow almost any day in the winter!
N: Growing up, how did you make the transition from ripping Minnesota hills to becoming a professional Big Mountain Skier?
C: It was a difficult transition for me moving from Minnesota to Utah when I was 15. However, I spent a lot of time in Utah growing up. My family has always been really into skiing so we would spent our Christmas and spring vacations skiing at Park City, Snowbird and Alta and staying with my aunt and uncle who also relocated to Salt Lake. My mom put me on skis for the first time when I was 18 months old and both my parents were devoted to making sure I knew how to ski. I also played ice hockey for much of my childhood and I attribute my skiing ability to years of skating.
When I graduated from high school, I poured my heart and soul into pursuing my career as a professional big mountain skier. I started meeting other pro skiers, photographers and companies and went from there! Salt Lake is the perfect place to be as an up and coming skier because it is easy to travel from and a lot of the ski industry is either based in or comes to the area.
N: Describe both your most embarrassing and proudest moments as a professional athlete.
C: Most Embarrassing moment – Crashing during a training run for the Gelande National Championships at Snowbird, UT one icy spring morning. Gelande is Nordic jumping on alpine gear. I was on these super long 190cm skis and I got bucked on the take-off and rag dolled the entire way down the mountain.
Proudest moment – Whenever I get to go skiing for work!
N: What's on your playlist right now?
Little Dragon – Feather
The Very Best – Warm Hearts of Africa
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
N: We’ve noticed that Stand Up Paddle boarding has increasingly become a huge part of your “off-season”. What gets you psyched about SUPs?
C: When I’m not skiing, I’m usually getting after it on my SUP board. I love the freedom you have to explore water – whether it is lakes, rivers, reservoirs or oceans. It is playing on snow in another form. At many mountain locations, it is the direct runoff from our winter snowpack. It keeps me connected to the water cycle. It is accessible, great cross-training and puts a smile on my face!
N: If you weren’t a pro skier, what kind of professional athlete would you be?
C: Trapeze artist or hockey player.
N: Describe the last meal you had.
C: Guayaki Yerba Mate tea, cinnamon bread, honeycrisp apple and maple yogurt! It was a mid-morning snack. I’m all about eating several small meals throughout the day to keep my energy high during exercise.
N: You just recently graduated from the University of Utah with an Anthropology degree. What made you choose anthropology? How does that influence what you do now working with the state of Utah on environmental issues?
C: When I began my undergrad career at the University of Utah, I had no idea what I wanted to major in so I just chose classes that sounded interested. Two years in, I had completed many of the requirements for a degree in anthropology so I decided to go for a Bachelors of Science in that field. My primary focus was on cultural anthropology rather than physical anthropology or archaeology so I studied people across time and space. My favorite class was “The Evolution of the Human Diet” where we examined human diet for the past 2 million years.
Anthropology plays into every job I do and it was especially helpful when I was working with Ted Wilson, the Utah Governor’s environmental adviser last summer. Humans have lived on planet earth for tens of thousands of years with a minimal environmental footprint. Only in the last few centuries have we begun to muck things up. By understanding evolution, we can begin to change our destructive behaviors in order to ensure a livable planet for future generations.
N: What celebrity/athlete/etc. have you been most excited to meet?
C: Over the summer I had the opportunity to meet Laird Hamilton first on the water during an on-water demo with and second at the Surftech booth during Outdoor Retailer. Laird was giving SUP demos and giving pointers and tips to other paddlers. I’ve always admired Laird for being such an amazing, well-rounded athlete and having such a huge impact on the surf and outdoor industry. I asked him for some pointers about my paddling technique and he complimented me on my form! He said that often, women are better paddlers than men since they are more apt to use their whole bodies rather than just their arms (proper SUP technique involves rotating your core and even using leg muscles).
Laird’s whole training philosophy lines up and adds to my own – he is a big advocate for proper nutrition and lifestyle training rather than sport specific. Laird and I are training for life – to be ready for whatever adventure comes our way!