By Paddy O’Connell
Angel Collinson is having the best season ever. Her segment in TGR’s Paradise Waits was so jaw-dropping it went viral and began a “greatest of all time” conversation. Her skiing prowess, or rather her unreal ability to take a 1,000-foot fall and ski away unscathed, recently landed her on Good Morning America. She’s been scooped up by Marker-Volkl, skied with deer at Sun Valley (check out her Instagram—it’s nuts), and this past weekend won Red Bull’s Cold Rush, her first competition since leaving the Freeride World Tour in 2012.
I caught up with Angel when she was driving back from the backcountry competition at Revelstoke Mountain Resort to her home in Salt Lake City.
PO: First things first. We all want to know…who has better hair, you or your brother, Johnny?
AC: Ha! Probably my mom, really. But of the siblings, John wins for sure. He doesn’t wash it, but I comb and braid it while telling him bedtime stories. That’s why he has the best hair in skiing.
PO: Are you going to remind him that you took the top spot at Cold Rush and he came in second?
AC: No, no. He won the JP Auclair Spirit Award which is voted on by everyone at the event for the person with the best attitude, best spirit, most stoke. That’s awesome. I’m so psyched for him.
PO: This season is going pretty damn well for you, I’d say.
AC: It’s been a crazy winter. Being invited to Cold Rush was awesome. It’s the coolest comp: invite-only, hand-picked, peer-judged. It’s awesome to be considered with all the great skiers that were there. I thought I was peaking when the movie and my segment came out but it’s been this slow crescendo. Cool things keep coming. Good Morning America was weird, really surreal…but cool. I was trying to be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and was on at 5 and all I could think about was “just don’t swear.”
PO: What were your thoughts going into the comp—nervous, excited?
AC: It was the first time I’ve competed since I quit the Freeride World Tour. There’s just something different about comps. I was hoping I didn’t lose my edge. I just went into it telling myself to be happy with whatever happens, stay calm and humble but be confident and ski hard.
I really haven’t been pushing it too hard this season. Filming allows you to ease into the winter. I want to peak in Alaska in April. I hadn’t hit a cliff this entire season until two weeks before the comp. I was like “ah man, Cold Rush is soon.” I got my head into pushing myself and started hitting things back home. Niney-five percent is the mental game, getting into the right mindset. Going in I was nervous. I wasn’t super confident. You know, it’s just visual-inspection skiing (determining your line by observing the venue in the runout). There’s a lot of pressure with that. But you just trust in your abilities and do it.
PO: How’d you feel about the terrain?
AC: I really like Revelstoke. My first-ever comp was at that same venue. Picking venues for organizers is tough. It’s got to be accessible to the staff and the crowd but still be good skiing. A lot of people wanted more options but overall there was a lot of variety and it was pretty awesome.
PO: What was your favorite day of the comp?
AC: Cat skiing was awesome. Comps are stressful and take a lot of energy so cat skiing with no pressure, no real filming was so, so awesome. It was an all-time day with an unbelievable crew, 18 of the best skiers in the world. Pretty rad. You know, we never get to do that—just go cat skiing. When you’re working you’re lucky to get four runs in a day. This was only the second time in my life I was able to cat ski and free shred—so, so, so fun. There was also a big sense of relief because the comp was essentially over. That element adds a lot, when everyone can just relax
PO: Best line of the day?
AC: There was this awesome pillow line that the guys sent. But the last run of the day, at the top of this bowl, everyone party-shredded in a pack of skittles just crushing. It was so fun.
PO: What was it like evaluating your peers’ footage? What was the vibe like?
AC: It was cool that everyone saw it together and the public got to join in. It was the first time we’d all seen the footage. It felt easy and casual but still really professional. It was hard to judge, mainly because there wasn’t a lot of time. But I really liked how this was impression-based rather than criteria-based like on the FWT. We wrote comments and ranked everyone from one to 20, excluding yourself. It was really cool that they showed everyone’s line top to bottom, then a few highlights. And the locals loved it.
PO: Did you think “I got this” at any point of the event or were you surprised to win?
AC: I was surprised to win. I thought the ladies put down some great runs, huge cliff drops, powerful riding, more so than in other comps before. Even the turns, the turns were great.
PO: And the new People’s Choice Award, what are your chances?
AC: I don’t know. Probably not that great. Ha, I’m not great with social media. I’m better than I used to be but I don’t post a lot. I’m glad that it’s not a part of the main contest. It’s a cool component though. Social media versus athletic ability—I’ve always relied on my skiing to speak for itself.