Folsom athlete Becky Walter skis as hard as any (harder than most in fact). Residing full time in Summit County CO, Becky can be found in the resort during her lunch breaks, and also spends a significant amount of time exploring Colorado’s expansive backcountry. Here’s a bit about her background, and her impact as an athlete for Folsom…
Okay – tell us a bit about yourself and your ski background
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago (think suburbia) as a horseback rider and violinist. For the most part, my only exposure to skiing was night skiing at Alpine Valley Ski Resort in Wisconsin, which is a landfill with a whopping 388 ft of vertical relief. It wasn’t until I attended college at Colorado State University that I really discovered my passion for mountains and skiing. I was terrible at it, so I bought a used demo setup with boots two sizes too big and would drive up to the mountains by myself 2-3 days a week to ski the same run over and over again until I felt like I had “mastered” it. It quickly grew into an obsession. In 2011, I graduated with a Biomedical Science degree and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it so I “took a year off” in Breckenridge. For years I worked in restaurants at night so I could ski every day. Eventually I also got into touring and fell in love with spring skiing (skiing couloirs is still my absolute favorite thing in the world!). I’m really lucky to have met some great friends along the way that were (and are) my mentors. Since I didn’t grow up skiing, I always feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time.
Where are you currently skiing for the most part, and how’d you wind up there?
I never recovered from my “year off” after college so I’m still living in Summit County. My favorite local resorts are Breckenridge for the alpine (and wind buff), and Arapahoe Basin for the Steep Gullies and the East Wall. When I’m in the backcountry, I frequent the Tenmile, Mosquito, Gore and Sawatch ranges. It’s hard to beat how central we are to so many cool places.
Resort vs. touring? And why?
It’s a solid 50/50 for me! I love ripping around the resort with my friends on a surprise powder day or doing solo hot laps at lunch. Since Colorado always has a persistent weak layer, the resort is usually the only place I can enjoy safe steep skiing until the spring. On the other hand, I love touring because it gives me the freedom to explore and deepens my connection to the mountains. It’s pretty special when the conditions line up for a big objective. There’s a lifetime of skiing out there, even just in my backyard. One of my favorite hobbies is creeping on topo maps and finding new places that I want to ski. Overall – as long as I’m skiing, I’m happy.
What’s your perspective on being a female in a largely male-centric industry?
We definitely have a big women’s movement going on right now but it wasn’t always like that. I used to get a lot of guys telling me that my skis are too long, being surprised when I could keep up, or not believing me when I said I skied something. This especially happened when I worked at a ski company- people would look past me and ask their question to the closest male (usually just a friend who would politely correct them). But honestly, I don’t mind it. Most of the time that isn’t happening, and I love skiing with the guys. It was my male mentors that taught me almost everything I know. I could say a lot on this topic, but I think the most important thing to remember is that we don’t have to prove something about ourselves as skiers just because we’re female… if it makes you happy, just go freakin’ skiing! However, I do recognize that it can be intimidating and I’m stoked on all the female empowerment happening right now.
Tell us about your experience on your Folsom Skis – the Primary 104 and other skis too?
I can’t seem to break out of the Primary line when it comes to my ski quiver. The sidecut profile is a classic – you know it’s good when the skis feel like an extension of your body and you don’t have to think about it. I currently have two Primary 104‘s and one Primary 95. One of my favorite things about working with Folsom is that once you find a shape you like, you can play with so many other variables. It’s fun to explore the entirely different personalities of the Aspen core in my touring Primary 104, contrasted with the Poplar, Maple, Bamboo core in my resort-oriented Primary 104. Not to mention the endless combinations of camber profile, composite, flex and tail shape. Working with the team at Folsom is a treat; they genuinely care about making sure the ski I’m working on will be well-purposed and match my skiing style. Something I think is often overlooked is the benefit of working with a local company. Not only is every dollar going back into our local economy and supporting our workforce, it’s also much more sustainable than skis made in big factories overseas.
You were involved in the R&D process for Folsom’s new UltraLITE touring construction. Tell us about this…
I think there’s a really important balance between weight and flex, and the UltraLITE construction nails it. I’ve skied carbon touring skis that claim to be hard-charging, but end up being too stiff for their weight causing them to deflect off variabilities in the snow, making it tough to “charge” through anything. The UltraLITE construction saves weight through a wider core and thinner sidewalls, but doesn’t compromise stability or performance. I built my setup for big spring missions: a Primary 95 in a 178cm that weighs in at a mind-blowing 1463 g/ski. The first time I skied my UltraLITEs was in a narrow chute with heavy powder that transitioned into breakable crust for the bottom third of the line. If you’ve ever skied through steep breakable crust on a touring setup, you probably know how interesting it can get. My mind was blown when the UltraLITEs calmly skied right through the crust, chunder, and heavy snow. They also pair perfectly with my lightweight touring boots. My ski partners are probably sick of hearing me talk about it. A final important shoutout is the special attention paid to topsheet material and construction – you won’t find yourself constantly weighed down by snow building up on your skis as you climb. I’m very fortunate to have been involved in the R&D process and I’m proud of Folsom’s final product. A fully custom ski that’s feather-light uphill and hard-charging downhill, what more could you want?
How about outside of Folsom – what else is bringing you joy these days?
I’ve been volunteering with the 501c3 High Country Veterans Adventures since 2016 when my friend Austin asked me if I’d be interested in helping him start a non-profit. Our mission is to improve the overall quality of life of U.S. Veterans by connecting them with the outdoors through physical and social adventures. I’m a ski and mountain bike guide, the treasurer, and also the only “civilian” member. My favorite part of guiding is watching people’s reactions as they ski their first backcountry powder run or reach a summit with an incredible view. It’s the best. One of the coolest things we do is an annual hut trip where I get to be a fly on the wall and listen to everyone’s stories – I truly believe it’s as good for me as it is for the Veterans.
Plans for the 22/23 season? And beyond?
Goal for 22/23: Ski a metric sh*t-ton! Everything depends on weather and snow, but I currently have plans to make trips out to Utah, Jackson, and Canada. My big objective for the season is to hopefully spend some time in Washington and ski Rainier. Bigger picture, I’m focused on growing my mountaineering skills so I can unlock some bigger terrain. For some reason skiing is just way cooler when you can use pointy things to climb or dangle on a rope to get into your line.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with her on the hill (both up or down), but you can follow along with Becky’s adventures via her Instagram here (@beckywalter_).