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In one season Karine Falck-Pedersen transitioned from national champion ski-racer to professional big-mountain skier. She’s a Norwegian native, but you could never tell from her American accent (she went to college in Denver). Last winter, she earned herself a 5th-place ranking overall in the Freeskiing World Tour and a segment in Warren Miller’s new film Dynasty. If you didn’t know her before, you should probably get to know her now. Skiing’s Paul Sliker gave her a call.
You met President Bush at the White House with your fellow Denver University teammates after winning the National Championship in alpine ski racing. How did that go?
He came into the room while we were lined up for the picture and said, “So, Denver ski team, huh? Good lookin’ group of people, especially you girls.” “How is out there in Boulder?” And we all looked at each other and said “Boulder?” And everyone was trying not to say anything because you can’t correct the President. And then my teammate looked at him and said, “uhhhh…we’re from Denver.”
At your first big-mountain comp, the Telluride local newspaper called you a “freeskiing virgin.” What have you learned since then competing in every stop of the Freeskiing World Tour?
A lot. My first comp was all about learning to understand the game, the routine and figuring out how everything worked. For me, it was just getting comfortable being in a completely different competition setting. At Kirkwood I realized that I needed to go into higher scoring areas even if I couldn’t ski them the way I want to which is big, open, and fast. I want to stick to my own style but it’s definitely a good idea to learn what the judges are actually looking for. A lot of the time as a skier you have those qualities, but unless you know what the judges want you can’t show those skills to the best of your ability.
How did other competitors treat you at first compared to when you finished your season at the Freeskiing World Championships at Alyeska, Alaska? Did their attitudes change toward you?
That’s a hard question because in ski racing the atmosphere is different. Big-mountain competitions are more laid back and everyone’s a little more psyched when others are doing well. In this tour it is in some ways important to have recognizable name and past results, even for the judges. When you’re totally new people are just like “Who is that… someone doing the comp for fun?” I definitely noticed that after prequalifying for the whole tour people became more interested in where I was skiing and what lines I was choosing. When you watch more comps you start to learn who people are and how they ski, and you pay attention of course because those are your competitors.
Can you tell me about your Warren Miller segment coming out this fall? How did you get that gig?
I don’t even know how I managed to get it. No I’m kidding. It was funny because I thought we were just doing a Kästle photo shoot in Norway so I was psyched because I got to go home. And me, Lorraine Huber—who is also on the Kästle team, and Chris Davenport were e-mailing each other back and forth about logistics. I eventually got an e-mail that said something like “Here is our schedule attached,” and later: “Warren Miller Filming.” So I e-mailed them back and asked if it was for real. It turns out the trip was actually one of Kästle’s adventure tours that they do for clients who want to go with a guide. I got ridiculously lucky and got to ski the Lyngen Alps in Norway. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. A boat dropped us off, and we skinned up to a summit and skied right down to the ocean.
What is your plan for next year? Are you doing the Freeskiing World Tour (North American-based circuit) or are you thinking about doing the Freeride World Tour (European-based circuit) too?
That honestly is really up in the air. The Freeskiing World Tour went so well this year and a big part of me is tempted to go back and actually go for winning the tour and winning individual comps. As for the other tour, I’m moving back to Norway, so I’ll be based out of Europe somewhere next winter. It depends on if I get more help from sponsors and get the money to travel that much. And it depends on the snow. I want to be where the best snow is. We’ll see where the wind takes me, but I just want to ski as much as I can and hopefully I’ll be able to ski long-term for a living. It would be so sick.