Coastal Carolina Mom Wins Extreme Freeskiing Championships
Ashley Woody is a 47-year old wife, mother, and current U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Masters Champion. Woody, a resident of the Charleston, S.C., lowcountry for 14 years, won her division of the championship competition in Crested Butte last February.
Not many freeskiing champions live in Charleston, S.C. Do you spend a lot of time skiing out West?
Most years we’ll go to Colorado for two or three weeks. We used to spend our winters in Crested Butte, but we have an eight-year-old daughter, and as soon as she started going to school, we had to cut back. It’s frowned upon to pull your kid out of school so you can ski all winter. I think we might do that soon though. If we wintered in Crested Butte, she could ski every day after school.
Tell us about the national freeskiing championships.
You have a qualifying day and then two days of competition. You don’t know what you’re going to ski until the night before each day. They rope off the boundaries on a given run, then it’s up to you to choose your line. For the finals, we got to ski Big Hourglass, which is usually off-limits because it’s so gnarly.
What made you want to compete in the championships?
Because of Big Hourglass. I never get to ski it. It is the gnarliest of the gnar gnar. I wanted to be able to say ‘I did that.’
Is the run really that gnarly?
I’ve been skiing the backcountry a long time, but doing the inspection run for Big Hourglass was the first time I was legitimately scared. I was freaking out, wondering what I was doing on this mountain when I have a seven-year-old kid back home. But another skier, who had given birth six months earlier, convinced me that moms can do anything. So I did it.
How did you train without access to the steep mountains and deep powder of the Rockies?
I did a lot of spinning and roller blading and weight training. Lots of squats too. And mountain biking. I love going downhill fast. I thought I was going to blow a lung when I was out there. That’s the hardest thing: going from 2 feet above sea level to 9,000 feet and having to work hard and breathe at the same time.
I’m willing to bet you’re the only extreme freeskier in your PTA group.
Probably, but my parents were both skiers. My mom is 69 and she still skis. If my daughter decides to get into freeskiing when she’s old enough, it would be fine with me. I’ll probably be okay with anything she wants to do, as long as she doesn’t want to be a snowboarder.