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ANGEL COLLINSON

BIG MT. SKIER

 

Growing up a stone’s throw from Utah’s Snowbird as the daughter of a ski patroller, Angel Collinson had a natural inclination towards the mountains. But to operate at her level requires more than just natural talent: it requires total dedication, and Angel has it in spades. Turning to freeskiing after training as a racer, Angel won the Freeskiing World Tour in her rookie season, then followed it up by winning again the next season, just in case anyone had any doubts. Her burly big-mountain lines and groundbreaking video segments have earned her multiple awards. For normal folks, hitting terminal velocity on skis is absolutely crazy but Angel put in the time to become an outlier, making her “crazy” pursuits well-calculated endeavors.

  • First woman invited to film with Teton Gravity Research
  • First woman to win Best Line Award at Powder Magazine's Powder Awards
  • Two-time winner of Best Female Performance at the Powder Awards
  • Two-time champion of the Freeskiing World Tour
  • 2015 TGR Paradise Waits closing segment
  • 2016 Powder Magazine Best Line

 

 

Why live a life that's perceived as mad?

What is madness? I believe what most people perceive as madness, I call going with the flow of life as it presents itself to you. To dive in headfirst with no training wheels or known structure of what will unfold or how to get to where you’re trying to go. Of trusting in your passion and where you’ve placed your heart as your only map and compass and knowing the steps will unfold in front of you.

Passion evolves and reveals itself- it’s not always there. It changes. I realized this when I dropped out of college and gave up my full-ride academic scholarship I had worked my whole life to accomplish.

There were no limits placed on me as a child. I grew up living at a ski resort in the winter. We lived in a tiny apartment at Snowbird ski resort where my brother and I shared a 5x12 closet for our bedroom. My dad was a ski patrol and my mom taught my brother, myself and 5 other kids in a one room homeschool. In the summers we would hit the road in a rusty old blue van and do backpacking trips in mountains around the west. For most people, my childhood would be the definition of “madness”. Yet though mountains and skiing were interwoven through every fiber of my existence, I identified myself not as a skier, a mountaineer, or an outdoor enthusiast, but as a student. I have a deep love for nature and the environment and saw the best way to reciprocate my love as being a voice for it through environmental policy. I was an academic, and this is what drove me my whole life. Until a life-changing moment when I was 20.

Growing up I was encouraged to take the road less traveled- but I have always been very driven and goal oriented. I kept narrowing my opportunities to hone my focus so I could follow what I believed was a clear path to success, and my goals and dreams and the way I wanted to make a difference in the world. But the path to ‘success’ is not linear and there is no equation for happiness or fulfilling dreams and though I couldn’t see it, I was the one limiting myself and the myriad of paths and opportunities knocking on my door.

While trying to balance school and a blossoming, unforeseen career as a big mountain skier, I put school first, every time. But then I started seeing the doors I was closing. A free trip to Kilimanjaro, a tour around Argentina, etc, the trips kept coming. And I kept my head down, turning them away until the thought struck me- “what if I just don’t sign up for fall classes? What if I just give it all up and go for it?” School will always be there, but the opportunities will grow tired of knocking, and I knew this. The life I was supposed to be living, my madness, was staring me in the face and busting down my door. But it meant totally abandoning my identity. Everything I thought would bring me success.

Most people would probably think skiing is my passion. In fact, it’s not. I am driven by an uncontrollable urge to go deeper, to find out what lays inside me, to find out how to listen to my inner voice and the signs presented to me by life. Skiing has been the vehicle presented to me in which to do this, and the more I hone my awareness the signs are glaringly obvious. For me, it’s not about skiing as what I ‘do’- it’s about why I do it. I do it to push myself. To see where my limits are. To be intimate with fear and not let it rule my life- on the ski slopes or otherwise. To be outside, in nature, where I find quiet, and find my greatest connection to pure, unadulterated presence in the moment, the time and place where I am and not in my email inbox or funny text chain.

Some people say madness is risk-taking behavior- and I agree. But I think we all have a different relationship with risk and why we might take it. Many people get a rush from overcoming fear and that is their inspiration to follow madness. I personally don’t enjoy taking risks. I like living in the comfort zone. I want to feel capable and competent, and standing on top of a really challenging ski line makes me feel anything but that. And that is why I do it. I don’t think we ever grow if we stay in our comfort zones. Maybe this makes me mad.

When I chose the life of ‘madness’ I didn’t choose the skiing. I chose the path of listening to myself and listening to life. Whatever your madness is, pay attention to it. It might be in a college degree or it might be outside. Madness is pursuing something that has no endpoint. It’s a journey each one of us takes. Every human has to take risks, whether you follow societal norms or not.

Madness is about your relationship with your life as it presents to you and keeps opening you up, presenting you with obstacles. Madness is choosing the obstacle instead of the clear path in order to get a deeper understanding of yourself. #QuestionMadness