Even though she does not have a car, Lynsey Dyer knows how to get it in gear.
The 23-year old Wood River graduate and Sun Valley Ski Team alum recently found herself on top of the podium in Taos as the women's winner of the inaugural New Mexico Extreme Freeskiing Championships on February 13.
Do-or-Dyer as she is known in some circles, did not even know about the competition until the night before.
"After the X-Games, I met up with Powder Magazine for a story they are doing on hostels. The trip went through Colorado, Montana and Wyoming and we ended up in Taos at 11:30 the night before, and I heard there was a competition there. I woke up early the next morning and hitchhiked to the meeting," Dyer recalled.
Dyer said she enjoyed flying under the radar and did not feel the pressure she normally associates with a big competition, despite being her first big race after blowing out her left knee in January 2004.
"Two years ago I won the North American Extreme Ski Championships and the hardest thing for me was the pressure of expectations," Dyer remarked. "This was so spur of the moment. I was lucky to get in. I was the unknown girl in the back. That helped my head. There was no build up to it."
In extreme skiing competitions, participants make their way down steep slopes of varying terrain, while being judged on line, aggressiveness, fluidity, style, time and control.
After three runs, in which she landed jumps of 25-feet, caught some serious air, and billygoated her way through some large rocks, Dyer was deemed the winner.
"It was my first competition since blowing out my knee and it was a big deal for my confidence," Dyer said. "It proved to me that I was back on."
For her effort, Dyer pocketed $75 after paying a $150 entry fee and $75 for lift tickets.
"Hey, I made $75 bucks and some bragging rights," she said with a laugh.
She has earned them. A former Junior Olympian and United State Ski Team devo member, Dyer has several big wins under her belt, including the Molson Canadian Freeski Challenge, North American Freeskiing Championships and Montana Freeride Challenge, all in 2003.
She also heads up a burgeoning computer design business. A talented artist, Dyer created graphics that appear on a line of Liberty skis and next year her designs will be on a ski by a company "everyone knows."
"It's top secret right now. But it's amazing to see my graphics on skis," Dyer said. You also might have spotted Dyer's murals on the side of Hailey Nursery and in the Wood River High School gymnasium.
I chatted with Dyer on Wednesday.
JZ: As far as extreme skiing, at what do you excel?
LD: Probably fluidity and control because I definitely pick the lines that are maybe a bit over my comfort zone.
JZ: When people hear you are from Sun Valley what is the response?
LD: People chuckle at that. They think how can you be an extreme skier if you just ski groomers all your life. The outside perception, probably the core industries' perception, is that Sun Valley is a ski hill for old rich people who want to ski groomers. Sun Valley has not marketed to the youth. They haven't put in a park like every other resort and stayed fresh. I wish I had access to a terrain park while I was growing up.
JZ: But you have had so much success. Do you think that is something of a misconception?
LD: After traveling so much, we don't get the snow that some of the more extreme places do. We don't have the terrain to learn how to billy goat down. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do as far as learning how to maneuver in big terrain. But I have to give all the credit to all the vertical here and grooming. I love my hometown more than anything. It was great training for ski racing, but not the best for extreme skiing.
JZ: Who influenced your skiing while you were growing up?
LD: I think one of my biggest influences was chasing Pat (Savaria) and Hank (Minor) around on powder days. Trying to keep up with them made me a better skier. There were a lot of amazing coaches on the ski team, and I also have to give credit to my dad for teaching me how to ski.
JZ: Who do you look up to today?
LD: The girl that is pretty much on the top -- Ingrid Backstrom. She is the sweetest and most humble person and she just rips. There are so many guys out there that I feel fortunate to be a girl in this.
JZ: Are you comfortable with how women are portrayed in the industry -- sometime for their looks rather than their abilities?
LD: That's really changing, at least recently. I think women have been objectified because there has not been a standout female. There are incredible skiers on the tour right now and they are respected for their skiing. All in all, it is a tough call. Because being female... that sexiness is the one thing we have that men don't. Men are going to go bigger and do tricks, and most women can't keep up with that. I can see why some girls have used their bodies to get recognition, but that is not the way I want to do it.
JZ: You said you learned not to put all your eggs in one basket after your knee injury. What else did you learn?
LD: That I have to listen to my body. I was filming in the backcountry in Jackson Hole with Teton Gravity Research and there were so many signs. I was too cold and too tired for what they were asking me to do and I should have said no, but I didn't want to let them down. It was a dream come true (to be filming) and it was only the second day. But I learned that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. Being active is my whole life and having to sit on the couch took the wind out of my sails. People say they are glad when something like that happens. I am still not glad, maybe I will be in a few years, but apparently it was a lesson I had to learn.
JZ: You recently shot with Warren Miller. What was that like?
LD: That was a dream come true from when I was really young. I always wanted to be in those films. I totally remember going to the Opera House and watching the films. Beer bottles rolling down the aisles and everyone standing up and yelling when they mentioned Sun Valley and showed the pretty girls. As far as shooting for him, it's one of the easiest companies to work with. They pay for everything and take good care of you. It's more about the story. They don't push huge crazy things. You are not as afraid that you might not come back that day.
JZ: Where did you shoot?
LD: Heavenly Valley in January. I am hoping to get back there in March because we only shot half a segment. It's more about Glen Plake. We're the girls on the side, but it's a foot in the door.
JZ: You talk a lot about your goals and dreams. What does your dream consist of now?
LD: Well, my first one was to be in a Warren Miller movie. To be that guy that makes everyone get up and hoot and holler. To make them say, 'Oh yeah, I wish I was skiing right now.' Competing is a way to work your way up and pay your dues. That's how you get sponsorships. But the dream has changed now after being hurt last year to mixing in my graphic designs. It's amazing to see my graphics on skis. Designing is a lot more lucrative than asking someone to pay you because you are a good skier. This is the third year of trying to live the dream and it has taken me a lot of neat places. I am surprised at how fast it has happened and I feel really fortunate. I feel fortunate to have grown up in Sun Valley and had the coaching I did and the experience I have in racing is my foundation for what I am doing now. My only regret is that I didn't get the airtime -- no halfpipe, no jumping.
JZ: Do you feel you are lacking some skills?
LD: I need to get some tricks under my belt. I am jumping a bit but now throwing any tricks. The girls coming up are incredible. Learning new things is painful. I am working on Switch 360's and I would love to have something off-axis.
JZ: What does the rest of the season hold in store for you?
LD: I am going to Jackson Hole to do some promotional work for Camelback. I expect to be filming with Team 13. I have to go back and finish the Warren Miller shoot. I hope to go to Alaska in April to get the experience of such big mountains, and, hopefully, to film. There is a freeskiing championship in Kirkwood that I won two years ago. But I am really flying by the seat of my pants. That is how the ski industry works. You can't count on it until it happens. You can't control things. You have to be happy wherever you land.