"My mantra is ‘this is my life?'" jokes Kaylin Richardson in the lobby of the Grand Summit Hotel. After spending 10 years and two Winter Olympics on the US national ski team, Kaylin is now the ambassador of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. It's not a bad gig.
Unlike most pro-skiers, Richardson grew up in Minneapolis, not a ski town. "I don't come from mountains, but I'm a mountain person," she explains. "I'm not jaded at all." How do you become one of the best skiers in the US when you didn't grow up next to a mountain? "There are a lot of really good skiers that come from the West—we ski on ice, you have to be technically sound to ski on ice, and we get a lot of repetition... you don't get the altitude and maybe not the length of runs, [but] you get repetition."
"I do always joke that I was a mediocre two-time Olympian. People are always like, 'Did you win a gold medal?' and I go ‘No. I was one of the athletes who was there that made the people on the podium look really good.'"
Modesty aside, Sundance is a particularly busy time for the affable 28-year-old—if Robert De Niro or Harvey Weinstein wanted to go skiing at Canyons Resort, they'd go skiing with her. "When you go out skiing it's an equalizer," says Richardson. "When people are a little bit out of their element, it's fun to see how they react and take it in."
We asked the pro-skier to share the top 10 things that make her look and feel good on the slopes.
Freedom: With my Canyons Resort season pass in hand, 4000 acres of skiable terrain opens up to me as my personal playground. Canyons is not only the largest resort in UT and my place of work, it is also my place of Zen: where I go to clear my head, rejuvenate my spirit and let off some steam. It is also where I take those I love. Skiing 9990 (Canyons' highest summit) or Dream Peak with a crew never fails to give me memories that leave me smiling for days. With every bit of terrain, from the most laid-back cruisers to extreme pitches, and views in every direction that never fail to take my breath away, Canyons is where I derive the most joy in my life. It is my happy place.
Purpose: Since seeing An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, drawing awareness towards and ultimately ending climate change has been a driving force in my life. When Warren Miller Entertainment teamed up with Al Gore's Climate Reality Project for the "I AM PRO SNOW" campaign, I jumped at the chance to get involved. The climate crisis is evident everywhere, but not as acutely as it is in the snowbound regions of our planet. As I ski in Warren Miller movies and present myself as a pro athlete, there is always a message that I attempt to convey—we cannot ignore it any longer, we must start taking care of our home.
Sassiness: Bootights may be the answer to fashion in winter, and let's face it, winter is my opportunity to shine. Bootights are a premium tight with a performance sock attached so your legs look amazing and your feet feel great all day long. You don't forfeit style for comfort—everyone wins. I rocked them during the long days of the Sundance Film Festival and they allowed for a sexy look that transitioned perfectly from day to night.
Protection: As a professional big mountain skier, I put myself in situations that are admittedly dangerous and always amongst the elements. However, when there is calculated risk, the key to my safety and longevity is being prepared. To protect myself, there's myriad gear that allows me to do what I do. My POC Frontal helmet keeps my most treasured thing I can't live without (my brain) healthy even if I go tumbling down a couloir. Avalanches are always an ominous possibility in the big mountains, but my Black Diamond probe and shovel, Pieps DSP Tour beacon, and BCA Float 22 Airbag Pack ensure that if I or a friend are buried under the snow, we will be found. And of course, my skin is subjected to wind, snow, and cold on a daily basis. Free of petroleum products and parabens, Episencial Cheeky Salve uses probiotics and raspberry butter to keep my skin silky smooth despite what Mother Nature throws at me!
Style: I always say that looking good while skiing is half the battle. In my case, Helly Hansen is holding up more than their share of the bargain. Outfitted head to toe in their amazing products, I never have to worry about what to wear. HH has been at the forefront of activewear fashion since 1877, so they've had a few years to figure out what works. Their LIFA baselayers keep me dry and warm, wicking moisture throughout the day, and their Hellytech mid layers and outerwear are unmatched in style with incredible function due to Helly's dedication to quality fabrics and design. This season I am sporting their Verglas jacket and pant on the hill and then slip into the fabulous Iskoras boots when it is time for après drinks!
Flair: Everyone needs their trademark. Mine happens to be Astis Mittens. These days I am recognized far more often as "the girl with the fantastic mittens" than the two-time Olympian, Resort Ambassador, etc... Astis mittens and gloves most definitely get you noticed, but it is their construction that makes them remarkable. Incredibly durable and cozy, different embroidery options and leather choices allow for your creativity and personality to shine through. I wear Astis' Erling model and love how a day does not go by when someone doesn't marvel, "great mits!" Best icebreakers ever.
Luxury: What is the best way to cap off a day on the mountain? Yoga? A massage? Hot tubbing? Why not all three? With the world renowned Golden Door Spa situated in the Waldorf Astoria Park City, which sits on the slopes of Canyons Resort, I have these options every day. It probably is the most enviable connection that I have according to other winter sport enthusiasts. Their amenities and service are impeccable and I feel privileged that such pampering is always just a few turns away. There are few things that cannot be remedied at Golden Door.
Indulgence: In the heart of Canyons Resort Village, The Farm sits smack dab between the Orange Bubble Express (Canyons heated chairlift) and Red Pine Gondola. With a menu dedicated to farm-to-table cuisine sourced locally, the—what I like to call "laid-back-gourmet"—dishes continually change to compliment seasonal fare. There is always something completely irresistible to choose from—currently I cannot get enough of the free-range fried chicken with savory waffle and slaw. Prepared to perfection, I cannot help but, after making sure no one is looking, lick a finger or two.
Expression: A potter has their hands and clay. A painter has their brush and canvas. I have my Icelantic RKRs. Arguably what I do best is ski, and when I link together a bunch of beautiful turns, I imagine I feel much like a master would feel after finishing a masterpiece. No matter the conditions, no matter the terrain, the Nomad RKR's allow me to execute. The early rise tip and tail ride right over the crud and inconsistencies of any snowpack, and the traditional camber makes for a ripping carver—perfect for under-the-charilift showing off on any mountainscape. (Not that I ever do anything like that...) Incredibly durable, even when I've found patches of rocks on the slopes I reach my destination, skis next to unscathed. I am blown away by how hardy they are, while still being so easy to turn. Long story short, about the closest to the perfect ski that I have ever ridden.
Adventure: My Timex Expedition makes me feel like the combination of a sexy lady MacGyver meets Inspector Gadget. My adventures take me to wonderfully exotic corners of the world, and this watch is an all-in-one power player of a companion. Sure, with the advent of smartphones people get caught up with the cusp of technology's ever-developing smoke and mirrors, but iPhones and Androids will never replace the elegant strength and reliability of my Expedition. Plus, it looks cooler than anything Bond's Q ever produced. With an altimeter, thermometer, compass, chronograph, and nightlight, there is no situation, no scenario that I can't tackle.