T his weekend, while Shaun White and Torstein Horgmo are competing for gold in the X Games snowboard slopestyle finals in Aspen, University of Colorado-Boulder junior Alexis Keeney won't be far away, competing for $5,000 at the X Games Rail Jam.
The 21-year-old is currently creative director for Boulder Freeride, the ski and snowboard club at CU. We caught up with Keeney to ask about her skiing origins, her favorite mountain and tunes for snowsports.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 21, and I'm a biology major at CU. I've been skiing for 19 years. I'm from Virgil, New York. I grew up skiing my whole life. My grandma was a ski instructor until she was 83. My brother instructs at Vail and my whole family has been race coaches their whole lives. Both my mom and dad coached racing at Greek Peak Mountain Resort.
What made you pick CU?
The biology program is really awesome, but a lot of it was because of skiing. And my oldest brother Tracy went here 10 years ago.
How did you get involved with Freeride?
I knew about it before I even came out here. I signed up before I got here, I was really excited about the club. I hopped right on it and went through the interview process. My freshman year I was just a newbie, sophomore year I was events director. This year I'm creative director. That entails designing all of our products, all the fliers, anything that really has to do with design. I was actually originally an art and biology major but I decided that art would be more of a hobby for me than a major.
Favorite place to ski?
I'd have to say Keystone. I know it the best. I skied there a lot when I was a freshman because I was really into hitting rails. Whenever we'd get powder I would venture around and it turned out to be the best place to go.
How often do you get up to the mountains?
Past semesters it's been about four days a week, this year I'm hoping to get up to five or six. I'm actually just working on an honors thesis so I get to set my own hours. I'm going to dedicate full days to my research and then go up to the mountains with friends.
How did you get invited to the X Games Rail Jam? Are you doing any extra training?
It's a qualifier kind of a deal. It's through the USASA (United States of America Snowboard Association). There's a qualifier I did over Christmas break in New Hampshire (the New Hampshire Series). If you won, you got the invite to the X Games.
I usually just head up to the mountains and have fun, I'm not much of a serious trainer or whatever. But I will spend more time on rails than I will on jumps.
How does the judging work for a rail jam?
A lot of the judging comes from the difficulty of the tricks usually. And then based upon that, it's style as well. How smoothly you can actually do the trick. It helps a lot to be able to do something slowly. Instead of spinning really fast you can spin really slowly, but it looks good. You hit the rails and hike back up. You can have as many hits as you can get. It's basically based off how consistent you are with your tricks as well as how difficult your tricks can be.
Favorite skiing tunes?
I actually listen to really random stuff. I enjoy oldies music, and when I'm just skiing around it's usually old school stuff I can sing too. I really enjoy "Little Bitty Pretty One," and then some Will Smith -- the old stuff, like "Big Willie Style." And then I'll even listen to some swing music because it's fun and exciting.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.