Cassie Sharpe Q&A

Cassie Sharpe of Comox, British Columbia, won the first X Games gold medal of her career in Oslo, Norway, after skiing to victory in the women’s superpipe. We caught up with her to get the scoop on her summer plans, the 2018 Olympics, ski media, and inspiring female freeskiers!

Cassie is supported by Monster, Giro, The North Face, and K2 Skis.

Hey Cass! How’s it going? Where are you at these days?

Hi! It’s going good, so nice to have a few weeks off! I’m currently just having some down time/rehab time in the sea to sky area.

Tell us a bit about your season.

My season was busy and fast! I feel like it was jammed packed but flew by so quickly!

I fractured my back right before I competed at Dew Tour and struggled with that for the weeks leading into Aspen X Games, then skipped Park City World Cup for some extra rehab time before heading to Europe for Oslo X Games, then had the result of my life (so far) winning X Games! It was such a blur, it all happened so fast. Then had the World Tour Final in France and was so burnt out, didn’t make finals by a spot. Then traveled home about a week ago with the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had.

Needless to say, it was an awesome season and a great feeling to be home in bed after all the craziness of this year.

What are you up to this spring / summer?

Well, I’m just finishing up a Cassie Rehab Camp in Squamish this week then headed out to Nicaragua the first week of April for some surfing with Justin [Dorey]. I’m not a very experienced surfer but I’m dedicated so I’m hoping to get to surf some big… medium waves haha #kook.

Then back to training and testing in the gym all of May, glacier training in Hood and Whistler. Then on to New Zealand in August and October. Then right back into competing! Seems like next season is so far away but I know it’s going to sneak up on me like it always does!

 

Do you plan on competing at the 2018 Olympic Games? If so, tell us when and how that journey begins.

The journey has already begun! Every year you get sussed out by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and they really let you know that you’re in their sights.

Last season they took six slope and halfpipe skiers to Korea to check out the venue. Simon and I were among the group so you know they’re watching! Then just recently I was invited to the ‘Olympic Lab’ which is a two-day meet-and-greet with all the winter sports, but only two athletes from each discipline (one male, one female).

It’s pretty crazy that the upcoming season is already an Olympic qualifying year! I’m very nervous but also strangely calm. I’m ready for whatever they throw at us, though!

 

Who are three female freeskiers you looked up to when you were first getting into competing?

Looking back to getting into competing, I’m not sure I looked up to anyone in the beginning.

I was so secluded on my own little island mountain that all I saw was what was right in front of me… my rivalry with the only other park skiing girl on Mount Washington; Paula. Hahaha we’re friends now but back in the day she was who I looked up too — I was always pushing myself to beat her, and we pushed each other in the best way kind of way.

After competing at little BC mountains for a few years at a young age I started to see the big picture. I went to the premiere of Seven Sunny Days on my 16th birthday in Whistler. I was so excited to meet Ingrid Backstrom who was, and continues, to absolutely dominate the backcountry.

I also think SSD’s was my first real introduction to Sarah Burke. She started off her part by saying ‘I don’t think I’m a sex symbol. I’m definitely an athlete first’ and I remember thinking damn, that’s so dope. Watching her slay park, pipe and backcountry were a big part of me getting into truly pushing myself to be fearless and the best that I could be.

Who are three female freeskiers you currently look up to?

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s only three. Dropping into the pipe (or backcountry or slope course) with all the badass ladies out there throwing down and risking their bodies to do what they love, and impress the judges. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many amazing women.

Even the crossover, looking at some of the talented ladies in snowboarding (Jamie Anderson & Chloe Kim to name a couple) it’s so inspiring to see them really sending it and dominating their field.

 

Does freeski media need to do a better job of covering women and their stories?

100x yes. Not only just freeskiing media but snowboarding media and the organizers of events.

When five other talented ladies and I made finals at Dew Tour this year, I found out the night before dropping in that there was no live stream — I was devastated. To make finals at such a huge event and my family not being able to watch it live online was really sad. Women’s Halfpipe Ski Final was the only final at the whole event that didn’t have a live stream.

It’s important for everyone; media, fans, family, organizers to realize that we’re out there doing what we love, but also risking ourselves to put on a show, just like the guys and girls in all the other disciplines.

I’m so in love with skiing, I want to share my passion with everyone, like I mentioned earlier, growing up on Mount Washington I didn’t even know about other bad ass women skiers. To have more of an outlet to be heard and to share our stories with other young girls aspiring to be athletes would be amazing. I wish I knew more about the ski world and the amazing ladies in it, having a chance to potentially be a role model to other young ladies would be amazing.

 

We are positive that you already inspired ladies across the globe! Do you feel a certain responsibility to your fan base to be a role model?

Responsibility, no. Desire, yes.

I want to be a role model, I want young girls to look up to me and think ‘wow, maybe I can be anything I want to be too’.

I don’t feel responsible for being what other people want me to be but I do feel the desire to be someone that parents would be happy for their child to look up too!

 

What is the biggest deterrent for young girls in becoming freeskiers? And continuing in the sport as they grow up? What can be done about that?

Watching the world’s media focusing on young women being weak and incapable, it’s hard for them to want to be the badass tomboy in school and keep going with any sport. #likeagirl is an amazing tag, promoting girls to do anything they want. They’re capable of being whatever they want and to be proud to run, throw, punch, ski #likeagirl.

I was pushed because I was the only girl in my family, being surrounded by my two brothers and their friends made it easy for me to want to keep pushing. I wanted to be better than the boys, I think that’s what kept me on this path. But I’m not sure it’s just limited to young girls — I think being in the snow sports industry is very expensive. Regardless if someone is really talented the parents of the kid might not be able to afford to keep them going in the sport until they can be self-sufficient!

 

If you had the power to change something about our community, what would it be?

The negativity. I would change all the terrible articles written diminishing what we do. I read an article around the last Olympics discrediting a very talented skier because of her body shape. It wasn’t just an attack on her skiing (which we get all the time) but a personal attack on the body she was born into. It’s not just words on a screen at that point. It’s personal, and it hurts. So if there was only one thing I would change it would be to spread hype not negativity. To share your stoke and enthusiasm when someone does something sick, instead of tearing each other down behind the safety of a keyboard.

Feeling very blessed to be able to spend some time with my family on the hill today! 🎄🙌🏼 #tistheseason

A photo posted by • Cassie Sharpe • (@cassiesharpe) on

 

How big of a role does family play in your life?

Family is so important. They’re the ones who are going to stand by you no matter what. I think because my mom is from Quebec, we got our love for family time from her. We always try to spend Christmas altogether, and we always try to keep in touch the best we can.

It’s especially nice having my little brother [Darcy Sharpe] on the snowboarding side of things because our contests overlap every once in awhile. It’s nice to walk into a hotel and randomly see my brother in places like Norway, Austria or New Zealand.  Being able to have dinner with him is so nice and helps keep the homesickness away after a long season of competing. My older brother lives in China so it’s a little harder to see him but we always keep in touch via texts or Skype.

I think I really lucked out with the amazing, supportive parents that I have.

I couldn’t ask for a better family. Except maybe when I wanted to watch Sailor Moon and the boys  were watching Power Rangers… I never got to watch what I wanted haha!

When did you start skiing? When did you start skiing competitively? Talk to us about skiing versus skiing professionally.

I started skiing when I was about nine years old when we moved to Vancouver Island from Calgary because of my dad’s job change. I’ve personally always been competitive. Growing up the middle child with two brothers, you have to compete for everything anyways i.e. the tv remote (to watch Barbie or Sailor Moon), mom’s attention, the front seat, next turn on the Xbox. Haha, So I think it came naturally, as soon as I knew how to pizza and french fry, it made sense to start entering slope contests.

Skiing versus skiing professionally doesn’t really differ. I still ski because I love skiing, I just happen to be skiing for companies and in bigger contests.

Thanks for taking the time Cassie! Any last words of advice for something trying to make a career doing what they love?

Keep pushing!!

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not capable or that you aren’t good enough. When you fail, because you will, don’t be afraid to get back out there. You know what you want, don’t be afraid to get it.

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.” -Will Smith