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What life looks like for a pro woman skier

Emilia Wint is a member of the Breck Epic Team and writes about competitions, her travels, and other athletes for our blog here. 

How I started
Being a professional skier is something that I’ve aspired to since watching the Dew Tour at Breckenridge one of the first years it was held there. Seeing the girls compete (Keri Herman comes to mind, rocking a fantastic one-piece) on Breckenridge’s famous Freeway course is when I decided that was what I wanted to do, and I worked from there to make it happen.

I started at local competitions, and slowly moved up the ranks from AFP bronze level events (USASA) through silver, gold, and eventually platinum (X-Games, Dew Tour).

Cody Cirillo and I winning at Nationals

Girls v. Boys
Being a female skier compared to a male skier really isn’t that much different. You end up hanging out with a lot more boys, since there are fewer girls in the field and it takes longer to go to the bathroom when you’re skiing with all your layers on.
But mainly, one disappointing difference has been getting paid less. Prize money for some events is lower for the women compared to the men. When I placed first at the Copper Mountain USASA National Championships in 2011, I received $250. My good friend Cody Cirillo won the same event for the men. His prize was $2000. Here is a photo of us that day with our coaches, Chris Hawks and Tyler Conway.

The rationale for the prize money difference is that prize money is weighted on how many athletes are competing that day. Many more men signed up for Nationals than women did. So in that regard it was fair. More men contributed to the pool of prize money than women.

Thanks partly to the efforts of Sarah Burke, prize money for major events such as Dew Tour and X Games is the same for men and women.

I think the title of this article should be: “What It’s Like as a Professional Skier” instead. As women, we’re competing on the same courses as the men. We’re traveling to and competing at the same competitions, we’re living the same lifestyle, the list goes on.

What life is like for all of us
So what is it like to be a professional skier? It’s a long climb to the top, with a lot of ups, and a lot of downs. For me, the road to getting here, and the journey going forward is a much more significant part of my life than actually being “pro.” Whether you’re competing at local rail jams, or X-Games, it’s a similar lifestyle. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of dedication, a lot of traveling and the entire process is a whole lot of fun.

It’s not uncommon to be on the sidelines with an injury. I’ve torn my ACL twice. I have lots of good company.

Being a professional skier is an amazing job title. It’s a goal I’m happy to have accomplished, and I’m excited to see where it takes me. It means that I am able to ski every day. I get to travel the world with some of my best friends and compete in the sport that I fell in love with as a kid.

In the end, it’s still just skiing. For me, and most of my fellow competitors, it’s all about having a good time, and pursuing our dreams. I’m still having the same amount of fun as I did when I was little, learning with my dad. Now, skiing just happens to be a bigger part of my life.

— Emilia Wint


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