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Interview with a Badass: Veronica Paulsen

Say hello to our newest athlete.

When I caught up with Veronica Paulsen during September 2021, she had just finished a second straight day of hucking huge airs into the pool at Park City’s Olympic Park. “It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m making progress and learning new tricks. Also, I’m worked.”

We’re pumped to welcome Veronica Paulsen to the Powder7 skier team. | PHOTO: Amy Jimmerson

Yeah. Lugging skis and boots up sets of stairs over and over to practice skiing in Utah’s summer heat doesn’t appeal to everyone. But Paulsen isn’t everyone.

A California native turned Jackson local, Paulsen’s ski career exploded when she became the first woman to land a backflip into Jackson Hole’s iconic Corbet’s Couloir. It was an air three years in the making that crowned her the 2020 female winner of the resort’s Kings and Queens of Corbet’s competition.

Since, she has continued to push her skiing. Last winter, she filmed with Teton Gravity Research for their new film “Stoke the Fire,” which premieres this month. She will double down and film with them again this winter.

Needless to say, we’re stoked to welcome Paulsen to the Powder7 crew. Following water booters, we chatted about other pertinent topics—like onesies, retro tricks, and what it’s like to be a pro woman freeride skier in 2021.

Where did you grow up skiing? 

Squaw Valley [now Palisades Tahoe]. I joined the freestyle team when I was 12, so a little late. My parents don’t really ski much, but they drove me up to to Tahoe a bunch anyway. My best friend’s family also took us up all the time. She was on the race team.

What do your parents think now about your ski career?

They are shocked! Most of this is so foreign to them. They’re stoked.

Who comes to mind as someone who has had a major impact on your skiing? 

The coaches we had at Squaw are unreal. When I joined the freestyle team, I was a 12-year-old Jerry who hadn’t grown up skiing at all. They were so welcoming. Them being so welcoming and showing me the ropes had a huge impact. 

Paulsen became the first woman to land a backflip into Corbet’s Couloir in Kings and Queens of Corbet’s in 2020. | PHOTO: Amy Jimmerson

How and when did you get into big-mountain skiing?

I started with moguls and did that through college. I took time off school to ski on the NorAm tour. It took over my life for a decade. After that, I realized I wasn’t making it to the Olympics, so I retired from moguls. I was feeling burned out on the competition scene and wanted to go somewhere where I’d remember why I fell in love with skiing. So I moved to Jackson.

I had never been there before and didn’t know anyone, but I’d seen it in movies and said “that’s the place for me!” Dad was so confused. He drove with me and as I was driving him back to the airport, he asked if I was sure I wanted him to leave me alone in this completely new place. I said yes.

Did competition mogul skiing translate to what you do these days?

Bump skiing gave me the best base ever. If you can ski moguls, you can ski anything. It gave me the competition mindset, too. Even after I stepped away from it, it still kept me super focused every day. 

Do you remember the first backflip you ever stomped? 

It was at summer freestyle camp at Whistler. Since I was older when I started, everyone else had already done backflips. That summer I was 15. The first two tries, I over rotated. And then I stomped the third. It was a mogul jump.

My first backflip off a cliff was at Squaw. Squawlywood, right under the chairlift. I didn’t stomp it at all, but you get the cheers from the lift, and that’s awesome. 

Describe the feeling of skiing away from that backflip in Kings and Queens.

It wasn’t just stomping a backflip. It was like three years of work had gone into this, so as soon as you land, you’re thinking about what it can do for your career and how proud you are and all that. It was a tough road. There were days I wondered if I should even be doing this. So it was all of that packed into one awesome moment. 

When do you feel most alive on the mountain?

For me it’s all about being out there with my friends. That’s what most important to me. It’s that bluebird day on top of Cody Peak and seeing the valley with them. It’s the best feeling.

What are your next career goals? What are you working on? 

I’m really excited to move into the film sector. I’m out here in Park City training, and I want to bring more tricks into the big mountain scene, which I think is a little lacking in female big mountain skiing. Then there’s Alaska, which is always on a skier’s mind. I’m getting comfortable with bigger faces and everything, so I’m pumped for that. 

What are you pumped for this season? 

Well, I’m pumped to ski for TGR. Now that I’ve got a season under my belt, I’m excited to be more efficient and tackle some lines on my list. 

What’s it like to ski and film with TGR?

It’s awesome, super fun. Most people may not really know how much work it is. Every day in February when we’re filming, you’re waking up at six in the morning and skiing until six. Half of your lines can be 20 minutes of waiting for the light to be right. I was stoked because every day I was out there, I felt like this is what I want to be doing. I love it. I want to take the time and push myself and get the lines and see what I can accomplish on my skis. 

Veronica Paulsen also skis for K2. PHOTO: @wild_tristan

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Okay, time for some favorites. What’s your favorite retro ski trick?

Daffy. No! Kosak. No! It’s gotta be Double Daffy, the running man.

Favorite mountain?

All my friends from Squaw will be sad if I say Jackson, and all my friends from Jackson will call BS if I say Squaw. But it’s probably Jackson.

Favorite closing-day/retro outfit?

I love the onesie-tutu combo. Tutu over the onesie, hell yeah. 

Go-to skintrack snack?

I’ll make peanut butter and jelly and put it in a tortilla. Really, anything wrapped in a tort. 

Go-to aprés beverage?

Spicy margarita. 

What do you do when you’re not skiing?

I’m trying to figure that out. I like surfing, hiking, working on my drawing skills. But mostly it’s skiing as much as I can. 

If you could be well-known for anything other than skiing, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. Maybe writing a badass women’s comic book or something.  

Paulsen moved to Jackson to rediscover why she originally fell in love with skiing. It worked. | PHOTO: @wild_tristan

Do you have any tips for people who want to ski bigger lines harder?

I think my biggest tip is to not get discouraged. Keep going for it. We are our own worst critics. It’s all about sticking with it. 

What’s it like being a badass woman skier in 2021? Do you feel a lot of progress and energy in the industry among women skiers, or do you feel there’s still a long way to go in making it feel less male-centric? 

A bit of both. There are amazing women skiers coming up right now, and not just with TGR. You can go on Instagram and watch so many women who are stepping up their game right now. That said, there are still going to be more men than women in movies. As long as all of us collectively keep at it, awesome things will happen.

Any tips for aspiring girls and women who want to get into freeride skiing?  

Yes. Ski with everyone, and especially ski with your girlfriends. I skied with all my girlfriends starting when I was young. Skiing with girls, we were all more comfortable with ourselves and less embarrassed. It’s so good to push each other.

How do you view your role as a pro skier? Do you feel any responsibility?

There are tons of little girls who look up to me now. I’ve never had that before. I feel like I made them proud at Kings and Queens, so I’ve got to keep working. Keep making them feel proud and feel like they can do this one day.

Next: Get to know Powder7 skier Owen Leeper


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