2021 MASTERFIT BUYER’S GUIDE SKI TESTERS
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Pauline Astruc is the communication and women’s product manager for Dynastar. The new job allows her to combine her passion for mountain sports with work. She lives in Grenoble, France, close to the mountains where she spends most of her free time. “From steep skiing to free riding, I love practicing off the boundaries always with respect for the mountains, their stability and their hazards,” she said.
Ingrid grew up as a casual recreational skier in the Seattle area. After graduating from college in 2000, she spent one year “ski bumming” at Squaw Valley. One year turned into many as she started entering freeride contests and had success. Her skiing caught the eye of video producers Matchstick Productions and in 2004 she entered the scene with a bang. Her incredible segment in MSP’s Yearbook earned her Powder Video Awards both for Best Female Performance and Breakthrough Performance. In the following years, Ingrid kept pushing her limits, straightlining whole AK faces, dropping big cliffs with front- or backflips, and doing things that before only male skiers would do while skiing big mountains. Ingrid Backstrom has legitimised to call female skiers real big mountain rippers, and is far from being finished!
“I only get to ski about 275 days a year, but in that time, I ski all conditions. I love ripping it up in a GS course, frolicking in the bumps, or tracking up fresh snow.” Robin is a member of the PSIA National Alpine Team. She is the Ski and Snowboard School Director in Portillo Chile. Robin is also a Contributing Author and Reviewer of PSIA’s 32 Degrees Magazine.
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the titles of “freelancer” and “professional ski tester” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.
Jill Beers is a 26-year-old East Coast transplant now living in Salt Lake City, Utah. She grew up racing on Vermont ice and has been recreationally skiing the Wasatch for four seasons. “I love to rip fast groomers in between storm cycles but a blower Utah pow day will always top the list,” she said. When she’s not taking laps on the Wildcat chair at Alta, she goes backcountry in search of fresh snow and avoiding crowds.
Outside the rustic family ski cabin on Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers, British Columbia, Claire strapped on her first pair of skis at the age of two. Since then she’s travelled the world as a racer, coach, TV host, journalist, action model and Rossignol athlete. In the off-season you’ll find Claire whipping skiers and fitness enthusiasts into shape at her high-energy outdoor workouts. Claire is an ACA-CSC Performance Level III Coach, CSIA Level III Instructor and NCCP Level III.
Silver Chesak grew up in California wine country surrounded by the great outdoors. Skiing consumed his life, which led to a series of ski area jobs and a career as a professional skier. His accolades include finishing 9th in the 1995 Freeskiing World Tour. As a pro, he traveled around the world competing and creating beautiful images. “The experience taught me more than any college experience and introduced me to the interesting world of marketing,” he said. He eventually settled in the Mammoth area, working at Footloose Sports. He is currently the marketing/information manager.
Megan Dingman is a 22-year-old former collegiate ski racer turned big mountain skier from Park City, Utah. Racing from a young age, Dingman learned the fundamentals and went down the path of college racing. While in college, her mindset shifted to taking time to ski for herself. As a big mountain professional skier, she tries to ski as much as possible at Alta and Snowbird, where she is now based. “I strongly believe that there is no such thing as bad snow. My favorite days are when you need a snorkel for blower pow,” she said.
Madeline Dunn is a professional ski-mountaineer, avalanche educator, and outdoor sports model. She grew up ski racing in Michigan’s Pine Knob resort and competed in the Junior Olympics and NorAm competitions. In addition to being a ski tester for Nordica, she has worked in the industry as a professional athlete, ski model and professional guide. Her ski career recently led her to teach certified AIARE Avalanche Education Courses. She lives in Aspen and recently started her own company Aspen Art Curation. Photo by Alexis Ahrling.
Although she didn’t learn to ski until her mid 20’s, Brooke Murray has made up for lost time by skiing 90+ days most seasons. Before the kids came along, she was chasing after lines in the Wasatch backcountry. After the birth of her second child, Brooke began dividing her time between pulling the kids up backcountry roads on her skis, helping her 5-year-old learn to cruise down moguls at their home mountain in Colorado, and sneaking away for the occasional “mom ski trip” with friends. In the off season, Brooke loves to take her kids camping, biking, hiking, climbing, and doing anything to keep her quads and glutes strong.
El Furtney started skiing at three and grew up chasing her big brother around Okemo and Bromley before moving out to California. After graduating from UC Berkeley, where she raced with the ski team, El was hired as a ski instructor at Alpine Meadows, where she relearned everything she thought she knew about skiing. Today, she is equally at home dissecting the finer points of counter movement in technical skiing or finding the smooth line through the steeps and chutes. Her favorite non-skiing activity is mountain biking, both cross-country and downhill. Currently, El is the managing director of Squaw/Alpine’s ski & snowboard schools. She is also an active examiner & clinician with PSIA-W.
Gleason is founder and director of the BootDoctors in Telluride, Colorado. For 41 years he has been teaching the ski industry the science and art of fitting boots. Skiing has been his passion since he was a toddler. It is a rare day when the lifts are spinning that he is not on the mountain.
Hogen has labored as ski designer, binding and boot product manager, freestyle competitor, bootfitter, lecturer on risk management, ski instructor, marketing director, resort feature writer, ski tester for 30 years and boot tester for 20, OLN and RSN television show host, extreme camp coach, Desperate Measures co-creator, four-time Warren Miller screenwriter, R&D chief, honorary Canadian, college racer, regular contributor to at least ten different ski magazines, and his guise as Pontiff of Powder, married Paul Hochman and Carrie Sheinberg in all ways but legally. He currently serves as a bootfitter at Bobo’s in Reno, Nevada, when not providing all editorial services for Realskiers.com, including his weekly Revelation from the Pontiff of Powder.
Corty Lawrence was born on January 7, 1953, in Rutland, Vermont, to David J. and Andrea Mead Lawrence (of double Olympic gold medal fame). A member of a skiing family from the very start, he does not remember learning how to ski other than his mom and dad teaching him how to sidestep, sideslip, herringbone (how many know that one?), and kick turn. Skiing with peers and race coaching provided the remainder of his technical foundation. He has been in the ski business his whole working career. He met Sven Coomer, boot designer and a founder of Superfeet and Footloose Sports in Mammoth Lakes, California, and became a boot-fitter there in 1980. He has pursued that career since then. “Anything to keep me in my habits … skiing the primary one,” he says.
Theron Lee has been part of the race culture for nearly four decades. He spent 16 years providing tech services for K2 athletes, the last three on the Europa Cup circuit. He moved on to a 6-year stint at Salomon and a 2-year tour with Nordica before transitioning to ski tuning at the retail level, where he has represented Dynastar and Lange for the past 17 seasons. His mastery of both machine and hand tuning techniques makes Lee the rare technician skiers ask for by name. He also maintains his Level 200 slalom coaching certification and remains active in junior racer development. Rounding out his technical qualifications, Lee is a Masterfit University instructor and world-class bootfitter. He currently plies his trade at Bobo’s in Reno, NV.
Steve Olson is a long time ski enthusiast and manager of Viking Ski and Snowboard Shop in Barrington, Illinois. Steve has been testing skis in the Midwest and Western United States for 28 years. He specializes in all-mountain skis and carving skis.
McKenna is the quintessential ‘ski bum’. A former Freeskiing World Tour competitor, McKenna spends most of her winter backcountry skiing and chasing snow. She captains her family’s 58’ commercial fishing boat in Alaska during the summer months, catching salmon. McKenna has almost two decades of backcountry skiing experience with extensive trips around the world. She has worked with world renowned mountain photographers and has been a part of multiple film projects including Warren Miller, Matchstick Productions, Pretty Faces and numerous adventure documentaries. McKenna has been a K2 athlete and Alliance test team member since 2012.
Since starting Ski With Kim in 1989, Kim Reichhelm has been hosting clinics, camps, corporate skiing, private trips and adventure travel for all ages and abilities around the world. A pioneer in the ski industry, Kim was a member of the US Ski Team, an NCAA All American for the University of Colorado, a professional ski racer and two-time World Extreme Skiing Champion. Most recently, Kim was named by Skiing Magazine as one of the “Most Influential Skiers of All Time.” Sharing the sport she loves the most brings out the best in Kim. She is vivacious, fun-loving, detail-oriented and professional. When she is not traveling to resorts around the world, Kim is based out of Aspen, Colorado and Baja, Mexico.
Kaylin grew up in Minnesota skiing at Hyland Hills, a small spot with little vertical. After her first family trip to Colorado, she was hooked. “It was pure magic,” she said, adding that the magic has never diminished for her. She started racing at age nine and made the US Ski Team at 15 years old. After ten years of racing internationally and competing in the Torino and Vancouver Olympics, she retired from competing on the World Cup. “I wanted to explore the mountains without gates and courses dicating where and when I could turn,” she said. She began to discover the beauty and adventure of backcountry skiing. Now a reincarnated big-mountain skier, she travels to some of the most staggering corners of the world as a professional ski tester.
Schaffner has been working in the ski industry his entire adult life. Originally from the Midwest, he started in ski retail as a teen and was then picked to work with athletes in racing service for Salomon North America. His home is in Truckee, California, where he owns and operates The Start Haus ski shop. He is also a senior instructor with the Masterfit University Bootfitter Training Centers.
Edie Thys Morgan
Edie Thys Morgan, AKA Racer eX, is a two time Olympian, recovering downhill racer, freelance writer, and frequent contributor to Ski Racing and Skiing History Magazines. The reverse commuter grew up in Squaw Valley and now lives in NH with her family.
Larry Rhoads began skiing when he was 8-years-old in 1967. Growing up in Long Beach, CA, Mammoth Mountain was his place to be. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics. He joined the fire service and retired as a fire captain. He also served as a ski patroller and instructor at Mammoth. He has been working at Footloose Sports for the past decade and manages the rental tech department. He spends his winters in Mammoth and summers surfing and cycling in Long Beach.
General manager of Jan’s LTD, which includes Jans MT Outfitter, White Pine Touring and Rennstall World Cup tuning service, Jack Walzer is a ski industry veteran. He is an avid Alpine skier, Nordic skier, MTB and road biker with a fly-fishing fetish. With over 30 years of specialty retailing experience, he has experienced all trends and product improvements over the years. He has served on numerous product advisory panels and has tested hundreds of skis over the years. He grew up in Vermont before settling in Park City. He is also a longtime bootfitter and equipment connoisseur.
Jennifer Simpson Weier
Jennifer Simpson Weier is a PSIA National Team member. She began instructing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has been teaching at Minnesota’s Hyland Ski & Snowboard School and Vail Snowsports School. In the early season, usually at Loveland, she has held the Simpson Camp for Instructors to help them kick off their season. She is a registered nurse and has worked at Minnesota’s Fairview Ridges Hospital in the ER. Since she hasn’t been going to the gym during this time, she does her own workouts to keep herself busy. She recommends Fitness for Skiing and Snowboarding offering exercises with video links and 12 weeks of programming. “The early end to last season made me realize how special it is to spend time on snow with friends,” she shared.
Emma was raised in Vermont, navigating the bumps, trees and often variable conditions of her home mountain, Mad River Glen. During her college years she was drawn West to the Rocky Mountains and started to compete in big mountain skiing. She later found a love in coaching youth freeride skiing at Aspen Valley Ski Club. Emma is a member of the K2 Alliance and works with K2 to develop the women’s ski line. She resides is Snowmass, Colorado with her husband, Stephen, and daughter, Merritt, who will be on skis shortly after taking her first steps.
Cara Williams is a former world-ranked professional Big Mountain Freeskier & Ski Cross athlete. She spent over 10 years coaching and guiding with Extremely Canadian Steep Skiing Clinics in Whistler, South America and Europe. Cara also worked as PR and Communications Director of the Freeskiing World Tour, US Freeskiing Open, The Honda Ski Tour, and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding with Mountain Sports International, a Utah based sports marketing company. Since moving back to Canada, Cara has been working as the Editor-In-Chief of Escarpment Magazine, and is the Southern Ontario Division Head Coach at Georgian Peaks Ski Club—Alpine Canada’s 2020 “Club of the Year.”
Juliette is a 23-year-old French freeskier based in Chamonix. She has spent the past two seasons on the Freeride World Tour and have worked closely with the development team at Rossignol on the new Blackops range.
Zach Yates is co-owner of Footloose Sports in Mammoth Lakes, California. He did not grow up in a ski family and spent lots of time skateboarding and snowboarding. Eventually he started skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows when his mother got a job there. He became one of the youngest certified instructors at 15, teaching skiing throughout his high school years. He moved to Kirkwood where he met Silver Chesak. There he got his first chance to ski more technical terrain and with heroes of the time like Glen Plake and Darren Johnson. He’s known as the tall quiet source of sophisticated race tunes in his local Mammoth area.