“Meet” formeer U.S. Ski Team Member Edie Thys Morgan, Two Time World Extreme Skiing Champ Kim Reichhelm and Three-term PSIA Alpine Team member Robin Barnes. They have a lot in common. They all are women with sterling reputations in their respective fields within the ski industry. The three were among 18 female ski testers (and six men) this year for the Masterfit Winter 2021 Buyer’s Guide.
The Guide details how ski and boot tests are conducted along with candid assessments of how products perform, the proper selection process and even a piece on coping with Covid. Ski model analyses include those designed (for both men and women) for various types of terrain – with a particular focus on All-Mountain East, All-Mountain West, and Big Mountain.
But the backgrounds of these three super athletes is just as interesting as the reviews themselves. Two grew up on the west coast and one on the East coast. Parents influenced the lives of Thys-Morgan and Reichhelm but friends played a bigger role in Barnes’ introduction to skiing.
Thys-Morgan spent eight years as a member of the US Ski Team, competed in two Olympics (1988, 1992), three World Championships (1987, ’89, ’91), and was ranked among the top ten DH and Super G skiers in the world.
She advocates learning from a pro, NOT your significant other. “That, and I’m big on getting in touch with your ankles. There’s a lot of gear and technique that will ultimately help you get better, but you and your ankles—that’s the most important relationship to get right from the start,” she says.
Thys-Morgan now is also a freelance writer and part-time ski coach. Her book, “Shut Up and Ski” is a great read. Her work has appeared in the New York Times.
Her favorite resort is Squaw Valley Thys-Morgan’s home mountain. “My Dad would want me to add that ‘all snow is good snow,” she says’
Kim Reichhelm cut her teeth skiing Vermont’s Stratton Mountain at the age of three. She is the only skier — male or female — to have won the South American, US and World Extreme Championships in the same year.She went on to appear in one of the all-time ski video classics “License to Thrill”.
“Going to Alaska and competition in the first world Extreme skiing championships was the coolest thing I ever did,” she said.
She has appeared on national TV, like the Today Show, extolling skiing and now runs her women’s clinic “Ski with Kim”. She considers herself a storyteller. Reichhelm puts in very long hours during the busy winter seasons and recharges at her beachside home in Cabo, Mexico.
Her advise for choosing the “right ski”? “Try before you buy”, she noted. “No-one knows what you want better then you. Even if you think you are not good enough to tell the difference, you can. But it takes some effort”. If possible, Kim advocates demoing skis before purchasing. And she has a word about boots, too. “For ski boots, take your time and don’t rush the process. If you want to be a great skier it all starts with the boot,” she added.
Her favorite ski town is Aspen!
Robin was exposed to the sports by high school friends who had grown up skiing like so many. She admits to “looking a bit like a tin can at the back of a newlywed’s bumper”. But, she loved the experience and loved the challenge of keeping up and the fresh air of the mountains.
Like Edie and Kim, Robin has “skied the world” and her most memorable experience too place at Portillo, Chile where, after a fresh snowfall, she and some fellow instructors laid down “first tracks” on a popular trail in the light of the moon and much to the surprise of early risers the next day who thought they would be first.
“Most people/women say that they cannot tell the difference between different skis or boots, so they don’t trust themselves to go out and try things for themselves,” she explains. “I would argue that if they tried 2 skis side to side, meaning a couple of runs on one and then a couple of runs on another, they would absolutely have a feeling of which one felt better, or easier. It’s not important to know WHY you like one ski over another, just that you DO like one over the other. I would encourage anyone to demo skis whenever possible before making a purchase. It’s time well invested”.
Robin’s favorite resort is Heavenly Valley, CA