Lindsay Mann joined SVSEF in the fall of 2018; she came in with fresh perspective, incessant energy, understated professionalism, and a quirky, dry sense of humor. SVSEF is already reaping the benefits of having her on board – with a wealth of experience in both elite-level alpine ski racing and backcountry guiding, Lindsay is a welcome source of knowledge and motivation. This is not limited to the alpine USSA team and the big mountain program; diving in head-first, she has developed a Mountain Awareness Program (MAP) for SVSEF, which provides professional avalanche awareness and mountain awareness training to SVSEF athletes of all ages. Teaming up with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, Sawtooth Mountain Guides, Sun Valley Guides, and BRASS, Lindsay has already orchestrated multiple informational sessions for athletes, coaches and parents alike. Lindsay’s work with SVSEF has caught the attention of industry professionals – read the recent skiracing.com article that details her work that has resonated with the BRASS Foundation HERE.
In addition to her initiative as the Mountain Awareness Program Coordinator, Lindsay is on the hill with SVSEF athletes as an assistant coach for the alpine USSA team. We caught up with Lindsay to learn more about her and the experiences that have informed her current role – read all it below.
You’ve mentioned that you were both a dancer and a skier when you were younger – why did you choose to pursue skiing?
Growing up I did ballet, gymnastics, ski racing and soccer. When I was 13 I was in the Boston Ballet’s Youth Programs and ski racing for WVBBTS (Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers). Due to my ski racing commitments, I never auditioned for the Nutcracker and this did not please my ballet teachers. At this point, I decided to pursue an activity in the mountains rather than an indoor sport. Since moving to Sun Valley, I have found a great dance community here and attend dance class regularly in Hailey at Idayoga. For dryland this fall the dance instructor, Sean, came and taught a hip hop class to our U16 athletes.
Where did you grow up skiing? How did you end up at Dartmouth?
I grew up skiing at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire and then attended Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) for my junior and senior year of high school. In the East we often raced again college teams at FIS races, and all of the eastern collegiate ski teams always seemed to support each other. From being around this, I knew that I wanted to ski race in college and I thought that Dartmouth seemed like a good fit for me. Fortunately, I was lucky to get in and ski race for them for four years.
What is the biggest thing you took away/learned from skiing at Dartmouth?
Although ski racing is an individual sport, I really enjoyed the team atmosphere of college ski racing. To be successful as a college team we needed to have a strong nordic team and alpine team. Being in an environment where the team did well the harder I worked and trained motivated me to work hard and ski fast while I was there.
Best memory from your time there?
In 2007, my senior year, the Dartmouth Ski team won NCAAS! It was the first time at Dartmouth that the women’s ski team had been apart of a National Championship, and it was the highlight of my time there. One of the things that made the team so special this year was on the women’s side we didn’t have any stand out skier. In years past there was always one girl on the team that we expected would win races or do really well. I remember at one of our early season FIS races, my teammate Michelanne won an Eastern Cup GS race. The majority of the Eastern Collegiate Teams were at this race and I remember that although we were really excited for Michelanne, we all knew that we could all ski as fast as her. It was like a light clicked on for all of us and we knew that we could be a very strong team and compete. We carried that momentum with us throughout the whole season and into NCAAs.
How/when did you become interested in guiding and backcountry?
When I was 13, my ski team went up and skied Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mt. Washington in the spring. My dad came with our group, too, and I really enjoyed being in the mountains and experiencing a different side of skiing. This was the first time it was on my radar and I knew that when I graduated college I wanted to move out West and get more into backcountry skiing. As a college graduation present my parents bought me a beacon, shovel and probe and paid for my Avalanche 1 Course. From there I had a good friend from college who worked for Rainier Mountaineering, Inc, and he helped me to get my first job guiding.
How did high-level alpine racing inform/support your growth in guiding/backcountry?
Because I grew up a ski racer, I was really comfortable in the mountains and comfortable in difficult weather conditions. I was also used to spending time in a dynamic environment. As a ski racer there are many times that the plan changes, and you learn to be adaptable. This ability to adapt the plan has been a tremendous asset to me as a guide.
Best trip you’ve been on?
This is a hard question..the past few years I have gotten into doing sail and ski trips. This was also initiated by my father who is both an avid skier and sailer, and thought it would be interesting to combine the two. One of my favorite places that we have gone to is Iceland. Where we ski in Iceland is only accessible by boat, and I’ve done four trips there now – it is pretty cool to be skiing in an area where we know that we are the only ones out there. In the past two years, Keely Kelleher and I have started running all girls backcountry ski trips in Iceland.
What do you like about guiding?
I enjoy taking people into the mountains showing them that with some effort you can get to some pretty amazing places. I also enjoy the teaching aspect of guiding.
What are your goals at SVSEF this season?
To continue to create lifelong skiers and help each athlete reach their athletic potential. To show these athletes that the skills learned in ski racing translate into valuable life skills.
On the Avalanche Awareness side, my goal is to continue to educate staff, athletes and coaches about how we can teach the athletes good habits, to initiate conversations that we can be having with athletes as parents and coaches and develop understanding of tools that we can give our athletes, whether they are freeskiing in bounds or venturing out of bounds.
What do you like about the program and organization so far?
Everyone has been very welcoming in this community, which has made the transition pretty easy. Scotty and Will have also given me the opportunity to develop our Mountain Awareness Program and I really appreciate that. I think that there is a lot that we can do with these programs, and I am happy that I can be a part of making them happen and learning about the avalanche community here.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I really enjoying exploring in the mountains and dancing.
What advice do you have for your athletes?
Enjoy being in the mountains and being a part of SVSEF. Whether you are the fastest on your team or continuing to develop, SVSEF and being involved in these programs provide athletes with so many lifelong skills and long lasting friendships. This is truly a unique sport that we are a part of and I hope they take the time to enjoy it.