The Women Who Play Hard: Caroline Gleich

Caroline Gleich is an outdoors wonder-woman. From big mountain skiing to yoga, paddle boarding, snowboarding, ice hockey and adventure modeling, Caroline does it all. From the powdery autumn slopes, Caroline talked with The Women Who about how she became a professional skier and how she balances her action-packed, mulch-faceted life.

You are a professional big mountain and powder skier. For those of us new to winter sports, what does this mean and what’s involved in the sport?

There are many ways to become a professional skier. I didn’t come from a competitive background – I actually played ice hockey growing up in Minnesota – but the rugged alpine terrain of the American West always captured my imagination and I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a professional skier. I moved to Utah when I was 15 and when I graduated from high school, decided to pursue my childhood dream.  I had to work hard to catch up, but I saw a way to make my career doing photos and video shoots, first working with the local resorts and photographers and then working on other projects for ski movies and magazines.

Big mountain skiing is looking at a mountain and figuring out a way to ski it. I’ve become more specialized in the past few years on ski mountaineering, and that means climbing up what I ski. I spend a lot of time training, both honing my technical skills (managing rope work, understanding avalanche risk, for example) and working on my physical stamina. It’s a physical and mental challenge and I love the journey I’ve been on!

 

How did you first become interested in skiing and move into the professional arena?

My mom and dad introduced me to skiing at a very young age, and I loved it. When I was 18, and I decided to pursue my career, I had a great mentor, Kristen Ulmer, who taught me the ins and outs of working as a professional. She taught me how to ski for the camera – how to make dynamic ski turns in all types of snow conditions – and she also taught me how to work with sponsors. This education was invaluable. After a few years of working my way up through the ranks and making a name for myself, I moved into the professional arena. I always had a vision of what I wanted my personal brand to be- and I made sure to align myself with companies, people and projects that reflected my personal values. As an independent contractor or freelance professional skier, there’s not often a guidebook for how to succeed in your career. Many of my decisions came down to trusting my intuition.

What does the training regiment for your skiing look like, and how does it work in and around your other endeavours, like writing modelling and studying?

It’s always tricky to balance a training schedule with travel and work and life in general. Sometimes different things have to take priority, and sometimes your body just needs to rest! Instead of sticking to a training program religiously, I adapt the training loads to the other loads in my life. Sometimes I don’t get to train as much or as hard as I want, but you have to find balance and give yourself a break for rest. Rest is very important to allow muscles to adapt to the training loads.

You recently gained a Bachelor’s of Science in Anthropology (and graduated Magna Cum Laude, congrats!), and have worked as a freelance designer and marketing consultant. Is there a master plan to tie all these together into one role, or like me, do you just enjoy being a Jack/Jill of all trades?

I like that my job is never really the same. It’s fun to work on different projects all the time. Anthropology ties them all together – it’s a great lens to view the world through.

What three words sum up your approach to life?

fun, challenge and love

Caroline Gleich is always on the go, be it training, playing, skiing or studying. The best way to get in touch with her is via her website at carolinegleich.com