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  • Tess Johnson

El Hermoso Chile

Hola! I just got back from El Colorado, Chile where there unfortunately wasn’t too much snow. What lacked in snow, however, was replaced with phenomenal sunsets and plenty of laughs. El Colorado is a small resort only 39 km east of Santiago, but due to the fifty plus switchbacks, it took over an hour to drive there from the city. It was hands down the wildest road I’ve been on. Just before 6 P.M. every night, our skin glowed from the reflection of the sun beginning to say farewell. For the next hour the Santiago city smog peacefully turned the sky from yellow, to orange, to red, to pink. The sun burned a hole in the clouds, lighting the Earth's roof on fire for just a moment before it dipped behind the jagged mountain shadows. Every night, our team gathered on the back deck to watch, and every night, it was more beautiful than the last.

While it was very sad to arrive upon dirt covered slopes, we held our heads high and planned to make the best of the conditions. The other option of course, was Australia, and while I've had the pleasure of skiing there twice now, I prefer Chile. We got unlucky this year with the lack of winter, but in Chile we have complete control over our training compared to the very crowded mogul course in Australia. Plus, traveling to South America gives me the chance to practice my Spanish which I don't get to do in any of the other countries we visit. I went to a dual language school from pre-school through fifth grade, and although I've lost a lot, I jump at every opportunity to speak the language. I surprised myself at how much I did remember, and just being there was a really good reminder to read, write, and speak in Spanish as much as possible. No one else on our team really speaks Spanish, and the moment we landed in Chile I was presented with the challenge to translate and speak with the people who were taking us to El Colorado. So after about 10 minutes of being in Chile, I'd already made a new friend, Camilo. I've found it's easier if the person I'm speaking with doesn't speak any English, because it forces me to only use Spanish. Hitching rides to the gym from local buses and riding the chairlift with ski patrollers were some of the most memorable moments of the trip because I could practice my Spanish. I even got to do part of an interview in Spanish for a Santiago magazine!

As for training, despite the minimal snow, I was able to make some great improvements. The resort made sure we had a training venue for the entire two weeks, and although it was only a half course, our entire team got to train sufficiently. I am really excited to say I will be competing a new trick this year: 360 mute grab! This is the trick Jonny Moseley and Hannah Kearney, two of the best mogul skiers of all time, competed often. Even though it’s not a cork 720 or a back full, tricks that I’m still working very hard on, I’m proud to have a new competition-ready trick after years of the same air package. It’s essentially a 360 degree upright spin with a grab where I cross my left ski over the right and grab my left ski to tweak it out. Check out the video to see what it looks like! Lately I've definitely been struggling mentally to not get caught up in the degree of difficulty of tricks, because even though other girls are doing technically harder tricks, it’s all about the execution for me, not the degree of difficulty. And I know that eventually I will be competing a cork 720, even if it takes a few more years.

I had so much fun down in Chile, and it proved that our team is capable of making the best of a bad situation. We worked hard, progressed as athletes, and had loads of fun. I feel very lucky to travel the world and do what I love most with my closest friends. Now it’s time for some R&R back home in Vail as well as our annual U.S. Moguls Fundraiser! It’s incredible that our entire team is fully funded this year, and that funding is heavily reliant on this fundraiser that is hosted by USSA trustees in Vail. It’s really special that this event is in my home town, and we are all immensely grateful for the support we receive. I have a good feeling that the upcoming competition season is going to be awesome for our team!

Thanks for reading!



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