As the Backcountry Gear Test rolls on, we’re taking a moment to profile those who make the whole shebang work: our testers. First up is Tester newbie Caitlin Mitchell, a Jackson resident, ripping skier and self-proclaimed expert at folding things. We caught up with Mitchell to talk ski background (including a pivotal fall to the face) and to glean some insights into her time at the test thus far.Backcountry Magazine: What is your background as a skier?
Caitlin Mitchell: I grew up at Suicide Six in Pomfret, Vermont. I went to Woodstock Elementary School and they do the Friday afternoon program. After that I skied at Suicide Six and raced all the way until eighth grade, then I went to Okemo Mountain School for eighth, ninth and 10th grade. That’s because my mother would not let me go away to school. She said I’m keeping my youngest child here. I attended Holderness School [Plymouth, N.H] my junior and senior year. So I raced all the way through, and then my junior year fell on my face at a Cannon Slalom. Scraped my whole face up. I went down to the bottom and was like, “Mom, I don’t want to do this anymore.” She was like, “yea, sure that’s fine, whatever floats your boat, kid.” (laughs.) So I played four years of Division 1 college lacrosse instead. And then graduated and moved back to Vermont.
BCM: How would you describe your ski style?
CM: Definitely pretty.
CM: I’m a pretty skier versus a rugged or technical skier. So when it gets a little more technical, I definitely get a little more billy goat-y. My strong suit is on a groomer or in solid pow; I can ski the others, but it’s a racey, pretty turn. Like knees are parallel, everything’s parallel, you’re pressuring your outside ski—everything they teach you as a kid is what I’m thinking every time I turn. It’s noticeable; people say it looks like I have raced.
BCM: Where do you live now and how does that tie into your skiing?
CM: I live in Jackson, Wyo. The first time I went was about three years ago, and it was during a huge snow cycle in February and March. It had snowed like six to 12 inches every day for like an entire month straight, and I stayed during that whole month. I wasn’t supposed to stay that long; I was on a road trip and after that always wanted to move back. So I had a wonderful Vermont winter last year and then moved out this November and definitely got lucky, because the snow’s been great in Jackson and not great in Vermont this year.
BCM: What kind of terrain do you prefer to ski?
CM: Now that I’m older, I like to ski—my skiing is more catered to groomers and a pow run. But I have liked more technical terrain and learning about more technical terrain, just because it is more challenging to me. And a good, soft day at Jackson is always fun.
BCM: So today was the first day of the Backcountry Gear Test. You tried out a ton of skis; what would you say was your day 1 favorite?
CM: The Fischer Ranger—wait, no—as I’m saying it, I loved the Ranger, but I really loved the Black Crows Corvus Freebird. Those were sick. But I’d say a close second would be the Ranger 108. And I loved the Corvus Freebird. They’re so responsive. When you skied a mellow line, you could still turn them, and then when you’re on a groomer it did the same with a tech binding, which isn’t always the case.BCM: What are some other skis you have your eye on for the next couple of days?
CM: I want to try the Faction Candide 4.0, but they’re really big. They’re huge! I think they’re like a 187. I do want to try the Dynastar Cham because of Sydney Ricketts. Watching that girl ski on those skis was like, dang, I gotta try those. I definitely want to try that. I also want to try the new—I don’t think it’s changed much—but the new Volkl 100eight.
Check out more photos and updates from the Gear Test Week on Facebook and on Instagram at @backcountrymag.