Alumni Spotlight: Elsa Smith


Name: Elsa Smith
Class of: 2016
Discipline with JHSC:
Freeride Program


How does your experience with JHSC affect you today, if at all?
I think being a part of the freeride team was one of the more impactful experiences from my childhood in Jackson. I definitely think the club made me a fairly proficient athlete, but that was less than half of what made it so special. As corny and cliche as it sounds, I didn’t just come out of JHSC knowing how to arc a turn–I got a community, culture, and identity out of it, too, all things that I still hold pretty close to this day. Also, damn did it teach me gratitude.

How old were you when you joined JHSC?

I joined the freeride program when I was in 8th grade… How old is that? 13? 

How long were you a part of JHSC?

I was part of JHSC until I graduated highschool in 2016. 


In three sentences or less, explain your entire experience with the club.

I skied with the Freeride Program and competed on the Junior IFSA circuit for around 5-ish years, ending my final season with the club with a 2nd at the IFSA North American Championships, and as 2nd Overall in the North American IFSA circuit. 


If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure what I’d do differently, to be honest. I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I had a GD blast. 


What was the most fun part of being with the club?

Easy! Just skiing with my friends! Nothing is more fun than skiing with your friends every weekend, and calling it “practice.” 


What do you do now?

I am currently finishing up my undergraduate degree in Applied Human Physiology at the University of Montana in Missoula. I work as a strength and conditioning coach and a developmental biology research assistant, and I commercial fish in Alaska during the summers. I will be graduating this spring, and then will be back in Jackson until I apply to Physician Assistant school next year. And ski when I can, of course! Busy times for this alum! 

Elsa Smith - Biology Research Assistant

What skills did you learn while competing that apply to life outside of the club?

Don’t take yourself so seriously! I think that’s the main thing my coaches taught me that shifted my entire perspective on competition, and just life as a whole I suppose. As soon as I learned how to have fun at the top of venues and during my runs, I started seeing results and just had the absolute time of my life. I mean, we don’t ski for many other reasons than for joy, right? 


What is your all-time favorite memory of JHSC?

Oooftah, there’s so many good ones. My birthday is in January, and it always fell during a competition at Snowbird in Salt Lake. One year, we celebrated by going go-karting. The memory of Matt Lancaster and Tyler Martin (coaches) going for blood and slamming a bunch of teenagers into the bumpers is still a pretty good memory. 


If you knew a kid that was thinking about becoming a part of the club, why do you think should they join?

The ski community is the type of community that sticks with you for your entire life. You don’t graduate high school and leave it behind… Also, jeez. What better way to take advantage of growing up in Jackson? 


Anything to add?

If you can’t afford it, there are ways to make it work. I sure as hell couldn’t afford it, but JHSC does provide a lot of great scholarship opportunities–JHSC wants you to be a part of the team, even if it’s a bit more of a financial stretch for your family! 

Also- Pardee On!