A Chairlift Interview with Pro Skier Lars Chickering-Ayers

Lars Chickering-Ayers is a 22-year-old pro skier who won the 2010 Freeskiing World Championships at Snowbird, Utah, in mid March. We caught up with Lars about his upcoming summit-to-sea expedition in Alaska while riding the Pallavicini Chair at Colorado's A-Basin on a powder day in May.

Lars, it’s May 13. Where are we right now and what are the snow conditions like?
We’re riding the chair at A Basin, in Colorado. There are four inches of new snow on the ground. It’s starting to get pretty soft. Not bad for this time of year.

But you’re not staying around for long. Tell me about this Alaska expedition you’re leaving to go on next week.
It’s a 400-mile source-to-sea expedition on the Noatak River in Alaska’s Brooks Range, which is a completely protected watershed. We get flown into the headwaters by airplane with all of our ski gear and rafting gear. We’ll ski some peaks there, and try to get some first descents. Then we’ll move down the river and ski mountains all the way until we reach the ocean.

I take it you have some rafting experience?
I haven’t done anything like this before. I need to rent a bunch of gear. I have all the ski gear, of course, but I don’t have any rafting gear. I’m not very good with water. I used to be kind of afraid of it, but I’ve overcome that.

OK. Let’s talk about something you are experienced at then. You won your first Freeskiing World Tour big-mountain comp—the Subaru Freeskiing World Championships at Snowbird—this spring. What was that like?
It was nice to finally win. I’ve been competing in these big-mountain comps for a few years now and I haven’t won one yet. The first comp I ever entered, I came really close to winning. I was 18 and in Crested Butte and I got a close second place. The guy who won was Griffin Post, who I’m going on the trip to Alaska with. I’ve always managed to screw it up somehow, so it was nice to finally win one.

You’re from Vermont originally. Where do you call home now?
I grew up skiing Mad River Glen, Vermont. Then I moved to Alta in 2006, just out of high school. I worked at the mountain for a year, then spent two more seasons there. I have spent the last three winters traveling, doing big-mountain comps all over. I’ve been based out of Utah or Jackson.