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Being a freestyle skier - it's a good life
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Jacqui Edgerly's life on skis began when she was a toddler, on Snowmass, and has since put her on peaks around the globe.
A lifelong Aspenite, Edgerly has spent the last five years on the competitive freeskiing circuit — earning a second place overall finish on the 2010 Freeskiing World tour, winning the 2009 South America World Freeskiing title and the North Face "Young Gun" Award.
But the 23-year-old says hitting the slopes isn't about podiums and prizes, it's about friends and fun.
"It's always kind of been me and the boys around here," she said between runs on Aspen Mountain. "It's just the fun and the camaraderie that I love."
"The boys" refers to Aspen's tight-knit group of freeskiers — Will Cardamone, Nick DeVore, Mark Welgos and Chris Tatsuno among them.
In that crew and in the world of competitive big mountain winter sports, Edgerly has earned a reputation as a fearless and fluid skier, one who can go big and soar over cliffbands while simultaneously keeping a grounded, serene attitude.
Her mother, a ski instructor in Snowmass, first put her on sticks there at age 2. She honed her skills with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, competing in local downhill races.
By her teens, though, she was drawn off-piste.
"I was bored skiing gates and it seemed like you were always just scraping off good snow," she said.
Five winters back, she entered the Colorado Freeride Championships in Snowmass and took second place. Her success there kicked off a successful run on the circuit that also won Edgerly sponsorships from Black Diamond and others.
While her life as a competitive athlete has taken her around the world, she describes the ideal Aspen day as skiing with friends on Ajax in the morning and Highlands in the afternoon (which she did Friday).
In January she competed at the Swatch Freeskiing World Tour in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, then spent a chunk of time in Whistler before coming back home, where she works as a massage therapist at O2 Aspen and server at Pyramid Bistro.
After throwing a 360 on a mid-winter run down Walsh's on Ajax this season, Edgerly sprained her MCL. The knee tweak kept her off of the mountain for much of the rest of the winter — as she rehabbed with physical therapy and yoga — and led her to rethink her skiing goals.
"I feel like I need to take a break from competing," she said on the gondola.
For the last three summers, she's followed the snow to the Southern Hemisphere and comps in Chile. This summer, though, she's going to Oregon instead, to try her hand at sustainable farming. She ranks gardening as a passion on par with skiing.
She's now backing off of competitive skiing, and hoping to get into big-mountain filmmaking.
"Those movies are inspiring," she said, calling last year's "All.I.Can" by Rocky Mountain Sherpas "the sickest movie ever."
"I would love to inspire people that way," she said, adding with a laugh: "Ski porn has inspired me a lot."
Edgerly is looking forward to a life of skiing and mountain adventure, she said, but doesn't need to chase titles to keep it interesting.
"I just love skiing with my friends," she said. "I will ski for as long as I possibly can, but I won't be super-bummed if I'm not competing forever."