Free Drop Off to the Bow Valley and Calgary
Meet the Dream Team: Sarah Shaw
Sarah is the latest addition to SkiUphill's dream team. After a passionate discussion about skiing, life and women's equipment design, we knew we needed her on the starting lineup. One conversation will leave you impressed at the depth of her knowledge and she is just as comfortable benching on weird ski mounts and other tech stuff than helping you find your next dream setup. Meet Sarah!
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Calgary, AB, but the mountains have always been home.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a fairly non-outdoorsy family but fell in love with mountain sports on a summer camp backpacking trip when I was twelve. Ever since then a large portion of my life has been dedicated to getting out to the mountains as much as humanly possible. Currently, I am finishing up a degree in Urban Studies and Architecture at The University of Calgary, and then after that, I would like to pursue a masters degree in product design (or alternatively take a year off to ski everything and anything).
What sports did you practice as a child?
Skiing was a huge part of my childhood. My dad started teaching me how to alpine ski when I was three and my family would spend our weekends and school breaks at the local mountains during the winters. My family also had a cabin on the Shuswap, so I lived in the water during the summers as a kid. I swam for a team in Calgary and spent warm sunny days water skiing and wakeboarding. I went camping Chief Hector every summer between the ages of twelve and seventeen, which is really where my love of the mountains was kindled. I would eagerly await the opportunity to hike, paddle and explore. As soon as I got my drivers license it was impossible to keep me away from the mountains. I learned how to rock climb and eventually ski tour when I was 18, and I’ve spent all my time since then obsessively trying to learn and get better so I can get deeper into the mountains.
What brought you to the mountains?
The mountains have always felt like home. It’s always been my goal to end up out here full-time one day.
What “personal touch” do you bring to SkiUphill?
I’ve always taken a big interest in the technicalities of products. I’ve spent the past five years in outdoor retail and the last 3 seasons behind a ski bench. I love seeing first hand how things are engineered and how technical gear holds up through use. As I would like to pursue a career in product design, it is so interesting for me to learn what goes into making a reliable piece of equipment that succeeds and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the backcountry. One day I hope to design gear that helps women continue to excel in their respective sports.
What draws you to moving fast in the mountains?
I’ve always loved any reason to get outside. There's something about running that I’ve always found to be very cathartic. As someone who comes from a backpacking and climbing background, there's something very liberating about hitting the trails without 30-50 pounds of weight on your back. There is something so freeing about just being able to grab your shoes or your skis and go.
What is your favourite area to ski?
That’s a tough one. There are so many incredible places to ski in the Rockies. I’m always learning about new places to go. I think I fall in love with a new place to ski 10-15 times a season. I have a big soft spot for the sunshine backcountry area. There is an amazing variety of accessible and playful terrain to practice and push yourself with.
What are your other hobbies/interests?
I love film photography. I’m currently shooting 35mm with a Canon AE-1 program and Nikon FG-20. I would love to get into medium format (if I become less of a hack with a camera). My other hobbies include seeing films, listening to records and petting dogs.
What’s your ideal day out in the mountains?
My ideal day in the mountains is definitely any day with good friends. Any day where I can stop and hear the quietness of the world around me on top of a mountain or in a snow-covered forest is an ideal day.
What is your ski setup this Winter?
Currently (and tragically), I am in between setups. I’ve had my eye on some Atomic Backland 102s, with Plum Pika bindings and some rad pink Pomoca skins. Right now I am rocking a pair of Scarpa Freedom, but I am looking to lighten up with a Roxa RX 1.0. I am definitely in the market for something playful and powerful, and I’m confident that this set up will fit the bill.
What is your go-to running shoe?
Right now I am running with an OnCloud Cloudventure. It’s lightweight, grippy and cushioned.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good pour over. I generally like mellower blends that play around with chocolate and spice flavor combinations, but let's be real, as a student, I just like anything that keeps me awake.