Welcome to the ChockaLife podcast. Today my guest is Wendy Fisher, a former Olympian, a Crested Butte Extreme Skiing Champion, and a mother of two and probably best known for appearing in Warren Miller’s and Matchstick Productions ski films catching big air on big mountains around the world. Now she chooses to make her home in Crested Butte, Colorado and we’re going to talk about what it’s like to live and ski this mountain town.
Wendy: Thank you, I’m glad to be doing this.
So you have been in Crested Butte for quite awhile now, when did you first move there?
Right, and you have done a bunch of other stuff. Obviously, you were an Olympian, you’re specialties were the downhill and slalom combined and GS.
Wendy: Well, that’s what I was named to the 92 Olympics for; but I would say I was most consistent in giant slalom and super G.
Those are the pretty skiers too.
Wendy: Ah, thanks.
I just love watching them. Then you moved into extreme skiing – which sounds like one of the reasons that you chose Crested Butte, is that true?
Wendy: Uhm – actually I chose Crested Butte for a guy.
(Laughs) Oh – love!
Wendy: Yeah, the one I’m married to. But yes, the skiing when I came here was super fun and everything clicked and I moved here and have never regretted it.
If you were going to describe Crested Butte to someone who’d never bean there, what’s the vibe there?
Wendy: Well, it’s super small. I don’t want to say like, it’s an uncomfortable small, it’s a small where it’s still fun to live here and you don’t feel like it’s a remote in the middle of nowhere town, even though we are. It has a lot of – it’s a lively town. A lively, awesome small town. The community is really nice. I guess when you live here it’s hard to have a perspective of maybe what an outsider might feel like cause you’re so ingrained.
Like when I came, everyone accepted me because I was this new skier who was an Olympian and on the US Ski Team. So everyone, was kind of like interested in me so I wasn’t a total stranger. So maybe I didn’t get the true – no one knows me, incognito kind of stepping into a town and feeling that kind of greeting. But, I teach a lot of skiing on the mountains, I do a lot of private lessons and I ski with a lot of people who it’s their first time here or maybe they have a second home here, and they always talk about whether you’re a first timer in town how nice everybody is – that’s the main thing I always hear. Second home owners buy a place here because when they came to visit they can’t believe how nice everyone is here and how low key it is and how beautiful. So that’s the report I get from everyone and I have to agree. I’ve been here nineteen years and I don’t have any miffs with anyone here and everyone is outgoing and they try to live life to the fullest and have fun. I think there’s a great positive energy until someone comes into town and tries to do something that most of the town isn’t happy about and then, we all stand up for what we believe and put up a good fight and then we’re all happy again when we get what we want, I guess.
It is interesting when you say nice, Colorado is probably one of the nicest places, I swear when I go hiking in Utah or something, I knew who I would meet along the trail, if they were Coloradans or not because honestly, I think there’s something about Colorado in general, and it may be Crested Butte is even more so, but it’s an incredibly nice, wonderful, laid back place to live.
But, you know, it’s funny, because Crested Butte is a little bit different because it’s not on a major freeway like Vail or Copper, any of the Summit County ones so, I think you might have more of a family feeling there just because you kind of are a little bit off the beaten track, would you say?
Wendy: Oh yeah, definitely, I mean there’s definitely a community here. We only have a few places where we can all hang out and there are a decent amount of people who live here, so when everyone’s out on Elk or up on the mountain you see everybody.
Everyone is here because they love everything they can do and the feeling of it and they work hard to be able to stay here. So you have a lot of hard working, true locals who work and play in the community – they’re not second home owners or people who don’t need to work. It’s been definitely called a working ski town; if that makes sense.
Yeah, it totally does.
Wendy: It’s a good blend. And we’re accepting, of course, of the second home owners or the visitors and the people who come here who don’t need to work as well. It’s all good. It all makes it work and that’s how the town has to flow and that’s what most ski towns are like. I think if you get into the more popular ski towns you do lose the feel of community because the locals who have work in the town make it the community because we’re always here – we’re here 24/7. You know?
Wendy: We’re (locals) not the ebb and flow of leaving and coming – we have to all hang out here and make sure this town functions properly and normally and we do a good job so that the second home owners or the people who are coming to visit can come here and enjoy the place and feel like it’s a real town.
Well, you know, that’s the other big thing, I won’t name any names, but there are certain ski towns that are virtually filled with empty houses because they have giant houses in town and they only live there one week a year and the locals live like twenty or thirty miles away. Crested Butte is not that kind of town, right? The locals live in town, there aren’t a bunch of empty houses with people just visiting for short periods of time.
Wendy: No – definitely. I live out on the mountain – I actually live in Mount Crested Butte which is three or four miles up the hill. There are a lot more second homes up here but I kind of like it – it’s very peaceful and quiet.
Wendy: The valley kind of starts at Crested Butte South and then five miles up the road or so you’ll get to Crested Butte Riverland and Skyland – and then you drive up a little further up the hill and then you have Crested Butte, the town. Within that range is where all the locals live and it’s not a far drive. Even if you live in Crested Butte South you still feel like part of the community. So definitely, the locals who have had to move out of town have not had to move very far away.
Wendy: Yeah, you still have that feeling of connection of locals being in the valley.
Yeah, that’s huge. So what kind of mountain is it? Every ski town also has a mountain that’s known for certain things. If you were to describe the mountain itself for skiing or snowboarding, how would you describe it?
Wendy: Well, definitely Crested Butte got put on the map in the era of the extremes. It’s legit. This ski area held one of the very first extreme skiing competitions, as it should have, because it does have that type of terrain. It is a very double black, I’d even say a triple black in some areas. Which is why I love it and the locals love it. It really makes you be an extreme skiing kind of skier. A lot of other resorts have big open bowls, which is great and fun – or if you’re an advanced skier you can find things and do one hit and then straightline it (at other resorts).
At Crested Butte you really have to become a skier who likes to maneuver and get yourself out of tight situations. It’s like a puzzle to me – it’s really fun to be like, ok, I got myself here, now how am I going to get over there? And I love it – it just makes your brain work. But with that said, we have lots of intermediate, beginner and great groomer runs. So I consider it the family resort. If you have an adult, who’s a great skier and they want to push their level but they have little kids they can put their kids in ski school or the part of the family that is at a lower level has terrain to go ski but yet, you as a good skier, can go and really push your limits and have an awesome time and explore a really fun and exciting mountain. Rather than finding that mountain that is kind of fun for you – but really good for the kids and people who are learning to ski or a lower level, everyone gets something so the upper level skier isn’t sacrificing their fun by going to a middle of the road kind of resort that doesn’t have really challenging terrain. So I don’t know if makes sense but…
Well, let me ask – are there any back bowls like Vail size, or is it tree skiing or are there a lot of obstacles like cliffs?
Wendy: Yes, I would say we do have bowls but not like Vail. You can get to an open bowl run but you have to be a good skier to be skiing those bowls. It’s not like a blue big bowl that you can just ski and cruise down. We have runs with lots of trees, lots of cliffs, lots of rocks, nooks and crannies, tight, tight little venues to get yourself in and out of – I don’t want to make it sound intimidating and scary – it’s all good if you’re that kind of skier.
In that same area, they call it the extremes, you have to take the high lift and the north face lift to access them and there are places that my 79 year old father goes and skis. Even though I’m kind of building it up to this crazy terrain, it’s not – in this zone you can access the lines that you catch big air and cliffs but there’s also the lines that my 79 year old father can access and ski gently in and gently out and have a good time with all his friends. So it really has something for everyone – a lot of chutes and trees, again, I would say bowls we probably have a bowl or two but nothing like when you think of Vail, that kind of style.
Just to go along with that, I think the great thing about Colorado skiing is that almost no matter where you go the snow is so forgiving here that a lot of times you can actually ski a little bit better than what your ability might be somewhere else.
Wendy: Yeah, and the snow this winter has been awesome. It’s really carvable snow and the conditions are always pretty consistent and easy and fun to ski.
I’ve only been to Crested Butte in the summer so I honestly have not skied there or been there in the wintertime, so if you wanted to get out of town to a big city do you have to drive over the pass to Denver? What’s it like to get to places?
Wendy: There’s a handful of ways – Gunnison airport, which is a half an hour away. In the summer or winter, it’s a lot easier, we have a lot more flights. In the spring and fall, it’s our low season, so we only have one or two flights going in or out of Gunnison, so it makes it a little challenging. Summer or winter there are a lot more flights available. Usually you fly from somewhere to Denver and then Denver to Gunnison.
There are a few direct flights to Gunnison sometimes from Chicago or Dallas and they’re always looking to find new connections. You can also go to Montrose which is an hour and a half away and that airport accesses Telluride and Gunnison. Montrose is an hour and a half from both resorts (Telluride and Crested Butte). Some people go to Grand Junction because there are better deals and that’s three hours drive away. And then, of course, there’s Denver and you drive over Monarch Pass, taking 285 into Denver or continue to Copper Mountain and go on I70 and that’s about a four hour drive. For me, because I live in a small town and don’t shop a lot and access the city, every now and then to fly out of Denver for a flight, I’m totally good with because I need to do a Denver visit anyway, so it’s never felt like a big burden to me.
But there’s only so much online shopping you can do and then you have to bust out and get to the city. (laughs)
Wendy: No, definitely, you’ve gotta kind of feel real life again and then, you’re like, “thank God I live in a small town.”
Yeah, and go back to the mountains, happily.
Wendy: I grew up in Tahoe and San Francisco’s about a four hour drive. I feel like we did that all the time and so when you get used to it, it doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal anymore. But I know it gets overwhelming when people look into flights and they can fly into Denver and just drive a few hours to Vail or Copper but then, if you plan it on a weekend, that drive turns into being just as long and hard, if not harder, to get to than just flying into or driving to Crested Butte because it’s a different less crowded road. Yeah, I think people are starting to learn that more. I’ve been hearing about the Vail lines being super, super long this year and people come and ski with me and say, this is all you wait? You wait like one minute (in the lift lines) or less and I say, yeah, that’s pretty normal here. So hopefully, people will start to learn about that.
Well that brings me to another question about the mountain.. because it’s a little more isolated you’re not going to get these horrible long lift lines that all of the Front Range ski areas do because people are usually there (in Crested Butte) not just for the weekend – it’s a destination rather than Vail which you can do in a day from Denver, easily.
Wendy: Yeah, easily, I guess, if you’re not doing it on a Friday, or a Saturday morning or a Sunday evening.
Wendy: Yeah, it doesn’t sound easy to me, it sounds horrible. But you know, I think more and more people are driving from Denver and they go 285 to get here so they miss the Vail and Front Range driving crowd. And for the lift lines, I’ve never waited in a long lift line before. Even where I grew up in Lake Tahoe, in Incline when I skied there – I mean I grew up skiing at Squaw, but when I got older we transferred to Incline and that ski area but even Squaw didn’t have long lift lines way back in the day.
Then I went away to high school at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont and we only had academy kids on the mountain so we didn’t have lift lines. Now I live here and I don’t wait in line. So when I do go to a Vail or I remember in Whistler standing in the longest line, I’m like, seriously? People do this? OMG, I could never ski if I had to wait this long. I just wouldn’t do it, you know.
Right, exactly. Once you’ve been spoiled that way, it’s difficult to ever go back to that again. (laughs) so, the other question is – with Crested Butte being a smaller town, if someone wanted to move there, what’s it like to find housing and where would you look?
Wendy: Oh, I don’t know, that is the hard question. In the paper people are definitely posting all the time. It could even be worth it if you get here early to look at real estate signs and call the realtor and see if the people want to rent it for a few months. I’ve heard people do that. The rental pool, because I’ve never really done it, I honestly don’t know how easy or hard it is. I think there’s a lot of rentals up on the mountain. That’s a good bet. There’s a bus route from the mountain to town so that’s super convenient. There are probably a lot in Skyland, and so I don’t know – I think the paper is how a lot of people do it.
In terms of rolling in and finding jobs, I think that could be easy too. It kind of depends on the level of what you want to do. You know if you want a corporate, hard working job you could probably find that here but more or less, you’re looking at the real ski town jobs like restaurants and bars. A lot of people come here and try to become teachers so they have that free time and they start subbing and working their way in that way.
Then of course there’s the ski area, CBMR. They’re very on in the summer. They have a lot more business in the summer now and it’s kind of leaking into the off-season’s a little bit so you might have more work to do than just the seasonal job. Of course in winter there are all the lift jobs and ski area employment that you can find. So, I think it’s kind of easy, especially if you want to come for the winter. The ski area is always looking for employees because there’s such a turnover. So, if you want to try something new, it’s worth coming here and knocking on the door of CBMR (Crested Butte Mountain Resort) and looking for a job.
Does CBMR hire all year long?
Wendy: I would say there are always opportunities, but it’s hit or miss. There are a lot of people who have come here to work in the winter and then find out we have mountain biking on the mountain. So the rental shop guys (ski) can also work in the summer and spring when they open up early (on the mountain bike rentals). For people who live here, they don’t want to work all year round. They come here and work the winter, they travel in the spring for a month or two, they come back for their job in the summer and then they take off the fall again. That’s a common theme for people who don’t have families and are young. I think there are opportunities for jobs you can come back to and then you just take off on the shoulder season (spring and fall).
Right – and what are the shoulder seasons in Crested Butte?
Wendy: Fall and spring once the ski area shuts down. Town kind of becomes a ghost town. A lot of people leave and go and do their traveling. It starts to get back up in June.
So that would be mid-April?
Wendy: Yeah, mid-April – May is pretty quiet and then June it starts to pick up again. That’s when the ski area starts ramping up for their mountain bike season and the lift access to hike the peak and the adventure park that they have at the base area starts getting ready to go. That lasts pretty much until August and then you have another short shoulder season before they get ready for winter.
Crested Butte is really known for their mountain biking. Would you say that winter is still the biggest tourist time or would you say it’s evened out?
Wendy: It’s evened out. Summer is huge here. July is insane – it’s amazing. It’s really blown up to be a big summer place. I would say Crested Butte, the ski area, has really jumped on board to make that happen because before I had kids the ski area was a ghost town. No one even went up to the mountain. It just shut down, there was no life to it at all in the summertime. Now they have the hiking and the downhill mountain biking and you can get biking lessons and you have the bungee jumping and the mini golf – and they have camps., science camp up there. Just all this stuff going on for kids and adults and everything.
So it’s insane – people come here and put their kids in camps and come and play in the mountains for a month or two and then they go back to hot Denver – I’m sorry – hot Dallas or wherever it’s too hot to live in at the moment. They all come here. Summer has been really growing. I remember being in the park playing with my kids and there was two different couples from Dallas and they didn’t know each other and they were like “oh you’re from Dallas – I’m from Dallas too” and they started a conversation “yeah, we used to come here for one week and now we come for a month and now I think we’re going to buy a house” and the other couple’s like “yeah, we just started coming here and now we’re already talking about adding another week” and you know they’re just talking about the heat in Dallas and how nice it is here and so I think it’s just more people are coming and checking it out and it’s just growing and growing.
We have had an amazing winter though with people coming here and discovering Crested Butte too. I’d say it’s teetering back and forth on which is the high season. It used to clearly be winter but summer has kicked in and kind of taken over. But I think with this season and how much ski season we’ve had and people coming here, it’s kind of evening out.
Yeah, it’s been an incredible year for snow, that’s for sure. So, what would you say are probably the best places to work? I know that in the ski town I lived in there were a couple restaurants there that if you got a job there you could make so much money in tips. What are the hot places that you would say in town are somewhere that someone should try and get some work?
Wendy: I think Secret Stash is great – it’s a fun pizza spot and they’ve just built their restaurant to be much bigger now. It’s definitely a hot spot if you’re young and new in town and want to meet people, that’s the place. Then, there are the more higher end restaurants that are right on Main Street like Bacchanale and Gourmet Noodle and then Soupcon; which is the really high end restaurant that’s tucked away in an alley that’s super cute, so that’s probably a great tipping job because you don’t get as many people, but it’s more expensive. You just kind of have to do the research. I’d say every restaurant in this town is busy and great to eat at and a lot going on. Then you have the Last Steep and the Sunflower Café which are cute little nooks that a lot of locals go to and…I could just ramble off about all of them because there are a lot of great places and I think they all stay pretty busy.
So speaking about that – what about locals deals? I know, after awhile when I lived in the ski town we got deals at Obermeyer, Surefoot had deals, you could buy your skis for nothing…what kind of stuff does Crested Butte offer for locals?
Wendy: The Crested Butte snow foundation always does a ski swap every year. There are always great deals there since they don’t price things super high like you would maybe at a Vail ski swap or something like that, you know. It’s still kind of like Crested Butte prices and a lot of great gear being brought in too. I even take a lot of gear there and it’s almost unused and new and things like that. People always come up to me and they’re like, oh my God I bought your boots – you hardly used them and they’re great!
Thank you sponsor! (laughs)
Yeah, that’s a great deal that we have in October. I don’t do a lot of shopping so I don’t know when the ski sales are but I think they’re always in the springtime. In the shoulder seasons there’s the two for one in the restaurants and stuff like that.
I know – one great deal that my parents took advantage of, and it’s not just for older people like my parents, I know a lot of young people do it too. I’m not sure when it goes on sale but maybe in October – Crested Butte Mountain Resort puts out the ten pack where you can buy ten lessons that you can use all year long – and it only happens at one time like super early season – so you have to be on it – it’s not like you can roll into town in November and get this deal when the ski area opens – and it’s super cheap, like next to nothing you can have these lessons. They’re two and a half hours long and they only allow up to three people so it’s almost like a private. My parents, and especially my mom – they’ve been living here in the winters to help me out with my kids so I can work – she’s done it for about the past eight years when she has a bunch of ski buddies and they go and do these lessons and it’s really, really cheap. So if you’re a local who wants to get better, and you don’t know how to get better, and you’re not going to learn from your friends, that’s definitely a deal to take and that will help get you out skiing more often. So that’s one really great deal that you need to jump on early in the year.
People, even if they’ve been skiing for a long time, a lesson makes such a difference.
Wendy: I guess whether you’re moving here or you’re coming here with your family, and you’re the good skier I was talking about and you want to go and explore the mountain, it really pays off to get a lesson. And I know if you’re somebody who maybe can’t afford a lesson – of course if you’re moving here you’ll hopefully find friends and the right people of your same level who can take you around – because there are places here that you can really get yourself in trouble if you don’t know where you’re going. So that’s just definitely one word of advice in terms of if you’re going to come here and ski. A lot of really good skiers don’t get lessons cause they think they’re beyond it and this is more of -not necessarily a lesson – but a mountain tour, which I love to do. I can teach on the mountain and I love taking people around to all the nooks and crannies I’m talking about because it’s just so fun and adventurous and it’s different from any other ski resort; so I get really excited about that. So that’s one thing I recommend.
What about if you were to come in the wintertime do you have any special spots that are really great that you would recommend people to do – I don’t know – like hot springs, a certain lodge..are there places that are really special and unique to Crested Butte that are kind of an insider secret? That you’d be willing to give away? (laughs)
Wendy: Yeah, well I know there’s a cute little yurt that people Nordic ski out and do dinners; if you’re a Nordic skier. And that’s the other thing, the Nordic skiing here is going off. We have miles and miles of track and they keep improving it every year. I’d have to say the one sport that’s probably exploding the most here is Nordic skiing. I mean there’s always been skiers and we’ve always had a Nordic program; but it’s insane how amazing it is and it’s becoming world class to come here and do Nordic. I think you book the yurt that you can go and have meals at through the Nordic center.
And then, there’s Uley’s Cabin that you can do a sleigh ride to and have dinner up there. It’s kind of like our five star restaurant on the mountain and that’s a great place to eat that’s not at the base area. There’s the town of Gothic in the summer that you can go visit and you can mountain bike around.
What’s the town of Gothic – is it a ghost town?
No – it’s like an environmental study town. They do a lot of research. It’s one of the places that has still not seen too much exposure from, I don’t want to say humans, but they really try not to have it change too much so they do studies. I think they did a marmot study out there, they study the flowers and butterflies and try to gage how our world is changing, or not. It’s become very well known for its research. In the winter you can’t drive out there or snowmobile – you can only Nordic out there or trek. In the summer you can drive to it and they do lots of workshops and all that kind of stuff. It’s really cute; a nice little nook. Those are the things that come off the top of my head.
Are you guys a part of the Tenth Mountain hut system?
Wendy: No, I don’t believe so, but we have the Elk and Mountain huts, which you can reserve and skin out to those and spend the night. There’s a fireplace and a kitchen and bunk beds. I did an avalanche class out there – we went and spent the night out there. That’s a backcountry hut system that you can access, but I’m not sure if it’s part of that system.
That’s so much fun though, if you can get a chance to skin up and spend the night it’s just amazing. I’ve done that and loved it.
Wendy: Yes, we have that here and it’s great. We have snowmobiling, and dog sledding, and snowshoeing, and you can go trekking up the ski area in the morning if you want; there’s just tons of stuff to do.
What about festivals during the year? Do you have some things that Crested Butte is very well known for?
Wendy: Yes, we have the Vinotok Festival which is in the fall.
What is that?
Wendy: I know a little bit about it. I was involved in it once. They always have a maiden mother be a part of the festival, sorry the Harvest Mother – someone who’s pregnant.
Wendy: So the Harvest Mother is pretty much about the pop and I was the Harvest Mother one year; and it’s kind of a festival to bring on winter and get rid of all your baggage that you just want to get rid of and start fresh for winter. They always build a huge bonfire at the end of the day.
Oh no, it’s sounding like “Wicker Man.” (laughs)
Wendy: Yeah, people used to throw their TV’s and bedsprings and all this stuff they just wanted to get rid of to shed all this negative energy. So now you can’t burn everything and anything anymore. They build a big bonfire because every year they always have a Grump that they take down Main Street and everyone is dressed up in festive fall costumes. People visit all the restaurants and sing songs and cheers and then they do a little play in the street and people gather around. It’s a trial for the Grump about whether he’s going to get burned or not and he always get burned. They take him down to the end and they have this gigantic bonfire and everyone has a fun time. So that’s Vinotok and that’s in the fall.
We have the grand traverse, which is about to start. It’s a little more intense and not as festive. You partner up with someone and you start in Crested Butte and you skin over to Aspen and you end up at the top of Aspen.
Wendy: So that’s a more serious competition.
Yeah, that’s hard core!
Wendy: Yeah, you have to be self sufficient. This next Sunday, March 2,nd we’re having the Banana, I guess it’s not a festival, but more of a contest. We’re doing the Seven Hours of Banana where someone skis and does as many laps as they can on the Banana Chute – which is a two thousand vertical foot run. It’s a competition of who can do the most runs in that amount of time. That’s a fundraiser. Then, there’s the Al Johnson, where you skin up by the North Face Life and you wrap around, rip off your skins – and, of course, half of the people do this in costume – and then it’s the first one down the North Face to Last Steep, which is kind of a challenging run. So that’s an event. We also have music festivals down in town and on the mountain in the summer. There’s a lot – there’s always something people are doing around here.
Right – don’t you also have the biggest mountain biking festival in the summer?
Wendy: It might not be the biggest. I don’t know what level it is, but it’s big. So yes, we have a big mountain bike festival. We have the Colorado Bike Series come through here – I think it’s coming through here again this year. What did we also do this winter? We had a snowmobiling competition here and we have a Move the Butte that just happened. All the locals get together and they do a big dance show. They practice and they have a big dance for three days straight and all the local people go and watch. It’s like our own theater. We also have a lot of theater here. Lot’s of people put on plays and stuff.
Sounds like a great place. I really have to go out there and ski in the winter. I can’t believe I haven’t been out there yet!
Wendy: Yes, you do and then you can back all this stuff up (laughs).
(Laughs) Exactly. How about you? What are you going to be doing next? Are you still filming extreme skiing movies?
Wendy: Well…if anyone asks me to, I always say yes because I’m a sucker for it. But no, not really – I’m definitely more of a mom. I have a six and eight year old. When I had my first kid I definitely put that on the back burner for me traveling around and filming. I did miss it a lot. I loved the traveling and I’ve always traveled. I think I started traveling when I was twelve and I never stopped until I had my first son. So I kind of missed it; but Warren Miller came here right when I had my second son and I filmed with them. That was great. I was here – and it was my home base and I didn’t have to travel; so that was really easy. Every summer in August, I go to Chile and do a camp with Chris Davenport and it’s called, “Skiing with the Superstars.” I travel for that and that’s super fun.
What is that? Are you taking clients?
Wendy: Yeah, people sign up. We had over thirty people last year come to Portillo, Chile and ski with us. It’s Chris Davenport who is the one who started it and organized it. Chris Anthony’s a coach, Ingrid Backstrom’s a coach, Mike Douglas, and this year we brought in Daron Rahlves and then myself and Chris Davenport. It’s a great lineup of people to go ski with.
Wendy: We have so much fun. We’ve had ages from twelve to seventy come and do our camp. We split everyone up into ability level and people who want to ski together and have fun together. It’s just a great time. So I travel for that. I wouldn’t say it’s extreme, it’s definitely teaching and having fun with people and making sure they have fun.
Last year, Mike Douglas, one of the coaches who goes to Portillo, he does Salomon Freeski TV – so if anyone wants to watch cool ski footage online go to salomonfreeski.com – last year he did a segment on me. He came here to Crested Butte and then he took me up to Whistler. Mike said to me, “Wendy, I still think you’ve got it. – you’re a mom, you’re over forty, you’ve got two kids – but you’ve still got it – Can I film you?” and I said, “sure, ok.”
So I was in Whistler at the top of a big chute thinking, “what was I thinking!? Why did I say yes? Do I still got it?” (laughs) so he filmed me and it’s called Super Mom. Then he also filmed in Portillo, Chile when we went down there to do our camp together. So I did that and yes, if someone asks me to go do something I always want to; but now I have to balance whether it’s worth my time, am I making enough money – if I’m not making money, then what am I going to get out of it that’s going to help me. I definitely balance that out where before I had kids; I just said yes to everything and I didn’t weigh whether it was beneficial or not. If it just sounded fun, I just did it.
So, I mostly just ski around here and I ski hard, I have fun, I ski with clients – I can teach private lessons on the mountain. So, I’ve been super booked with that. I had someone take me to Europe the last two years to go work with a big group there. I just got a new job, here in town. It’s going to be fun and I’m excited for it. I’m now the Executive Director of the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation and we raise money for kids to be able to ski, snowboard, Nordic, tele. We do financial and merit based scholarships for kids to be a part of the mountain sports team which is the CBMR. Kids can snowboard and alpine, it’s ski racing, big mountain skiing, skiercross, all that kind of stuff. It’s fun. It’s a new challenge for me. It’s totally different than anything I’ve done before and snowsports are a true passion of mine. I’m a true believer of all the snowsports.
You are living it! (laughs)
Wendy: Yeah, so now I’m the head of raising money for all of it and I’m really excited. It’ll be a fun new challenge. I’m excited to try and make changes and do something really good for the town I’ve been living in for so many years and try to give back.
Well, that’s the natural progression of everything you’ve done. It’s been an incredible journey and it’s a wonderful way for you to get involved and give something back. It’s fantastic.
You know, it’s funny, when I heard you talk at a panel a few weeks ago, I was really struck by something you said. You brought it up a little bit when you talked about doing some extreme skiing in Whistler. I remember you saying that you got to the top of the mountain, and you have done extreme skiing all over the world, literally, and you still had that moment of – oh crap, what am I doing? And had that fear but yet, you pushed on. I love that!
I love that, someone like you, who’s been to the Olypmics, who’s skied everywhere on these tracks that most of us would never get anywhere near, you still had that moment of having to overcome. I think that’s something really important for people who want to move to a resort, who want to follow their dreams – it’s just – everyone still gets fear, don’t they? It’s just whether or not you push on from there.
Wendy: Yeah, yeah – for some reason because I believe in my athletic ability – that’s my strength – and so, even though I’m scared – I’m always scared because 1) I don’t want to mess up – I know I’m getting filmed, and I know if I mess up then I just wrecked the shot – so that scares me and also, I’m scared that what if I fall – the what ifs. But the one thing I always believe in is that I’m a good skier and if something happens I think I’ll be okay. You know I always have that in the back of my head that something can happen and I kind of manage the situation of how badly I can get hurt.
(Laughs) You actually think that far down? I wouldn’t even go there!
Wendy: I actually do. Yeah, I go okay, what am I up against here? Can I handle that? And I think yeah, I can handle this and I do. I fall in Super Mom pretty bad – one of my worst crashes ever. But it’s my strength – athletics and me. I always like to push through. There’s an addiction of wanting to overcome that fear and conquer it. But, like I said, I have this new opportunity with the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation and this situation is more fearful for me than standing on top of a peak because…
You’re in a different element, right?
Wendy: Yeah, I’m used to my fear in skiing and I’ve learned to manage it and deal with it and it’s kind of like that butterfly, conquer it, just follow through with what I want to do. But now that it’s with a job, and the expectations of other people, and trying to do something really well in the community where all eyes are on you – that’s even more uncomfortable than standing on a knarly peak that I know I could fall down. It’s kind of interesting.
Yeah, it is. But I think whatever you’re confronted with in your life, you will push through. I mean, you could’ve said no.
Wendy: I know, I’m a sucker – I always say yes.
But no, I wouldn’t say that though, I’d say you’re someone that’s going to push through no matter what the obstacle is because you have a fundamental belief that moving forward is the way to go. You have to follow that.
Wendy: Yeah, there were plenty of peaks when I filmed with Matchstick Productions – and I’m with the best guys in the world – and I thought “what am I doing on this peak with these guys?” I’d be standing there thinking why do I do this myself? I just want to go home or I just want to get off this peak. But then I’d think there’s no way I’m having them fly in here and get me – I will never be asked again.
Wendy: So I just thought, alright, if I want to be the girl doing this then I’ve got to step up and be the girl doing this. that was also a big drive for me too – I knew if I wasn’t doing it another girl would be – and I didn’t want another girl to be doing it other than me (Laughs) So that was one thing – I am gonna do this because I’m good enough to do this – it needs to be me – this is why I’m here.
And if I don’t do it – someone else is going to get to do it and I’m going to be mad (Laughs)
Wendy: And I’d always regret it. It’s funny, I do a big air – I thought it was big, it was big for me – in Super Mom. I’m standing at the top and Mike Douglas – it was an air I didn’t want to do – I wasn’t comfortable with it – and I’m standing up there and Mike is like, “come on Wendy!” and he’s calling me every lame name in the book just to antagonize me to do it. I’m like – that doesn’t work with me Mike, I’m sorry, you can call me anything you want, you can be as nasty as you want, I don’t care. Then, he stopped for a second and said, “just think how happy you’ll be?” and I thought, I know, I know! That’s all he had to say. Because I knew if I walked away from this air I would regret it. It would haunt me. So I thought, well if I do this air and I totally blow up and eat it, at least I did it and I won’t be haunted by not doing it. So I did it and I stuck it and I’m like thank God I did that! Mike you said just the right thing!
Wendy: you know, name calling won’t motivate me but saying how happy I’ll be will totally work.
That’s so true too! You never have regrets about things like that – you never do. I don’t care what happens. That’s so great. Well I love that – that’s the perfect ending. Thank you so much Wendy, I appreciate it!
Wendy: Thanks for the interview and it was nice talking to you.
For more information about Wendy Fisher, Olympian, extreme skier and Crested Buttte Mountain Resort’s Ambassador go to ChockaLife.com