The Angel Collinson Profile
This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Freeskier Magazine. For more from this issue make sure to pick up a copy at your local newsstand.
Words: Nicole Birkhold, Photos: Mike Schirf
After a less than satisfying stint racing with the US Team, Angel Collinson switched gears last year and exploded onto the freeskiing scene. She won the overall Subaru World Freeskiing title in her first ever competition season, while still attending the University of Utah full time on a full academic scholarship. Angel spent her formative years hiking in the Wasatch backcountry and learning about skiing and to respect the mountains from her father, Jim, and little brother, John. Jim is a Snowbird ski patroller and somewhat of a Cottonwood legend. Last year, Johnny became the youngest person to climb the highest summits on each of the seven continents. Itâ€™s fair to say mountains and snow run in Angelâ€™s blood, and she is quickly becoming a star in her own right after taking a first and a second in the first two stops of this yearâ€™s tour down in South America.
Hometown: Snowbird, UT
Sponsors: The North Face, Smith, Black Diamond
Results: 2010-2011: 1st, Freeskiing World Tour
Argentina 2nd, Freeskiing World Tour Chile
2009-2010: Overall Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Champion
2nd, North American Freeskiing Championships
3rd, Freeskiing World Tour stop, Revelstoke
1st, Freeskiing World Championships, Snowbird
Was winning the overall Tour title something you allowed yourself to think about going into your first competition season last year?
Kind of, on a tentative level. But I didnâ€™t really know what women skied like. I had only ever skied with guys. I just wanted to get out there and have fun and see what happened. But I thought that it might be a possibility. It was really cool to come on the scene and do well right off the bat because I had worked so hard at ski racing for so long, it was nice to see it pay off, even in a different way.
Do you feel like your ski racing background helped your freeskiing?
I really feel like racing is the whole reason I am where I am right now. Last year was really fun and really gratifying because I had spent so much time dedicated to my skiing and now I could see the results of that. The big-mountain world is where it really showed. So I was just on a joy ride and having fun.
Why did you switch from racing to freeskiing?
I was doing really well two years ago in ski racing. I was getting invited to ski with the US Team and really thought I would get named to the team the next year. They ended up picking a bunch of 15- and 16-year-olds. They didnâ€™t even give me a call. But it was kind of a blessing because I realized I was doing everything I could to be one of the best racers in the US and it still wasnâ€™t fun. So I had to go through a process of asking myself, â€˜Why wasnâ€™t it fun?â€™ I just love skiing so much and so much of ski racing is not skiing. Itâ€™s tuning equipment and getting overly fit and it took away from life in general for me. I wanted to experience more. My brother was on the Junior World Tour and he loved it and encouraged me to sign up. So thatâ€™s where the transition came from.
How has your family helped shape your skiing?
Well, mom is kind of the bedrock. Sheâ€™s the one who made it all possible because we could still live up the Canyon and go to school because she home schooled me and six other kids in a one-room schoolhouse all winter. And then dad worked up there. Heâ€™s been skiing super gnarly lines in the Wasatch before people even thought about doing it. Heâ€™s pioneered so many lines up there but heâ€™s really humble and he hates talking about it so nobody really knows. My dad has this amazing ability to know me and my brotherâ€™s limits and sometimes it sucks, because heâ€™ll push you into things youâ€™re not sure about, but he helps push our choices because he knows our technical ability even better than we do.
Whatâ€™s your approach to a competition?
I always start out looking up from the bottom of the venue because I like to try to pick an aesthetically pleasing line. Then I get to the top and hope that itâ€™s a fast, fluid line. I pick a line that is technical and super fast where I can just arc some big turns, which is what I feel Iâ€™m good at. I donâ€™t ski the lines for the airs because Iâ€™m still pretty new at that. My goal this year is to start stomping bigger cliffs, then throwing tricks because I feel like thatâ€™s where I have some room for improvement.