Blog: Friday, 5:52 p.m. " Superlatives with Wendy Fisher
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
It’s been 20 years since Wendy Fisher made the U.S. Ski Team at age 15. Over that time the freckled pioneer with wavy red hair has done everything from starring in ski flicks, to winning two World Extreme Freeskiing Championships in Alaska, to becoming a mom.
Fisher has spent the past 11 years living in Crested Butte, during which time she’s entered four U.S. Extremes and won one of them. After a runner-up finish last February, she opted not to compete this year; instead she’s hanging out at the bottom of the daily venues with shades and a microphone, working on a pair of TV productions.
Fisher still skis 120 days in a good, October-to-May season, although her time is more often spent inbounds at the resort, instead of in the backcountry like it used to be. That’s a product of her role as a local freestyle coach and a mom, she said.
With a few minutes to spare during the men’s Day 1 competition at the bottom of Staircase, Fisher spoke candidly on a variety of topics, including how the world’s most infamous ski racer would fare at freeskiing’s most infamous event.
“In all the years? There’s a few athletes that stand out. I can’t remember all their names, but just them pioneering a new, crazy line that makes you fear for their life. I guess that’s the most common thing. I can remember some amazing runs and great skiers, but the close calls stick in your head the most. And that’s what you get a lot here.”
“I guess I’m biased because I’ve traveled with him and have known him a long time, but I still think Seth Morrison is. He’s been pushing it for so long, and he hasn’t stopped. There’s a lot of other kids coming up and chasing him, but I still think he’s creative and innovative in his skiing.”
“Not making money and still wanting to do it (laughs). For me, I don’t know if it was just my situation or if I didn’t promote myself enough, but it was hard to keep top dollars and I got to the point where I loved going heli skiing and I loved putting it on the line and it was an amazing environment to be in, pioneering new lines, but it is kind of life-threatening in a sense, and you have to draw a line: ‘Well, is it worth it? Am I getting paid enough to keep doing it?’ Sure I would love to play forever, but at some point you have to say all right, time to get into gear and do the real world.”
“The backcountry right here in Crested Butte. It was probably about 50 feet.”
“That’s hard because I have to think about it. Definitely some in Hourglass (closed terrain at Crested Butte that is used in the Extremes). Hourglass is really intimidating. I guess I’ve had some Alaska runs that weren’t gnarly in terms of trees and features, but gnarly in the scope of it. I don’t know … I’ve had a lot.”
“That’s a tough one. He’s a backseat skier, he’s gotta change that for this kind of stuff. You gotta be on it. It’s a mentality. There’s a handful of racers who wouldn’t know how to loosen up in this area. I bet Bode would be awesome, though. That’s the thing with racing: You get so trained in one way, and then you get in this stuff and it’s a whole new world. But if you’re a sick skier, an amazing skier like (Bode), you can adapt to anything.”
Stopped by the top of Staircase Friday morning to see what this contest’s start zone vibe is like. Here’s what the people said.
“The butterflies go away once you start skiing, man.”
“Wow, where have you been? You are such a good hider. I thought I was a good hider, but you’re a really good hider.”
“I might try to get the judging gig next year.”
“Do they have a TV down there, like a Jumbotron?”
“Couple years they will.”
“I could really care less about skiing this year. I’m thinking more about dirt biking instead.”
And here’s what they said when someone dropped in.
“Rip it up, bro!”
“Shake and bake!”
“Turn ’em and burn ’em!”
Nickname of the Week: “Big Air” Barb. Her full name is Barb Peters, she’s a longtime Butte local, and she has competed in 15 of the 16 Extremes, including multiple podiums.
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