By Courtney Vermaas
For 21-year-old Brita Sigourney, the podium has become a familiar place in her
rookie year on the major comp tour. After winning the Superpipe event at the FIS Junior
World Champs in Wanaka, New Zealand last August, she returned to the states full of
momentum for a successful season. She took her first Winter X Games by storm, earning
second place only behind the illustrious Sarah Burke. Next up, a gold in women's pipe
at the Toyota Championships Dew Tour in Snowbasin, UT. Her rapid rise to the top has
everyone keeping a watchful eye on this young Californian.
After a childhood spent on the Alpine Meadows freestyle team and a coach
with a strict program focused on goal setting and competitions, Brita's life almost took
another route when she was recruited to UC Davis for water polo. A year spent balancing
school, polo and skiing was enough for Brita to realize she needed to sacrifice one of her
Brita quit water polo because the season overlaps with skiing, allowing her to
put priority on a passion that appealed to her for the thrills and the career opportunities.
She's had to adjust her school schedule to accommodate the winter comp season, but
she'll resume classes this spring determined to graduate with a degree in graphic design
so she can focus fully on skiing. With that recognizable motivation, Brita says "I wanted
to pursue something I could carry into the ski industry. Design is a big part of skiing and
one day I hope to have a job designing product for skiers like me."
Brita's dedication to skiing seems to have paid off this season with her success
peaking at the Snowbasin Dew Tour. She credits a lot of this to her new coach Ben Verge
out of Sun Valley, saying, "It's with him that I've really started seeing the results. He
really helps me with my mental game and it's important for me to have him at the top of
the pipe. He reminds me that I'm here to do my best and that's all I can do. I try not to
put any pressure on myself because that's when I get in a nervous funk."
It's a good thing Brita had Ben with her at the top of the Dew Tour pipe to help
keep her mind in check. Not only did four girls get taken down in sleds by medical staff
between pipe and slope (Brita ended up being one of them), but two of those girls went
down immediately in front of Brita; one before her qualifying run and one before finals.
It's during those long pauses waiting to drop in when the mind games come into play.
"It's times like that when Ben will take me out of my skis and walk around for a
bit. We focus on my game and nobody else's."
Brita was sitting in gold medal contention after her first Dew Tour run, but
decided to take it up a notch on her second and final run because of the heavy-hitters
still to follow. She went for the 1080 on her last hit, but lacking the speed needed to
make it around she landed a little off. What was initially assumed to be a tweaked groin
turned out to be a fractured pelvis. Although 6-8 weeks is longer than Brita would prefer
to spend recovering on her couch, she's already looking ahead, focusing on the World
Skiing Invitational this spring.
"I'm skiing the best I ever have so I can only improve from here. I definitely
want to learn more technical tricks and work those into my run. I'm really excited for the
future to see where everything takes me."
Looking forward, Brita is excited about being on the main stage of freeskiing next
to women like Sarah Burke. "I've dedicated all my time to skiing and Sarah's at the top
so she's someone I look up to. Getting to experience the same things these older girls are
doing and competing with them is really fun."
In addition to the women she competes with, Brita's friends from Tahoe
combined with a bit of powder are the recipe for her favorite day of skiing. "My friends
in Tahoe help coach me and it's nice having their support and knowing everyone's
looking out for each other."
Not only is Brita improving her own skiing, she's also giving back by coaching at
Squaw. "I really like coaching little kids because you can see their progress and they look
up to you." The advice she gives the groms? "You can't be afraid of something until you
try it. I've always had the problem where I don't want to learn a new trick because I'm
scared of falling. But honestly, falling isn't that bad. I try to tell them to be as aggressive
as possible and charge it."
This grounded, motivated skier is determined to return to the podium after this
injury and pick up where she left off. "I'm really happy to be here and lucky to be in
this position. I'm going to roll with that momentum." Whether it's bringing her artistic
or athletic talents into the ski world, keep your eyes open for big things from Brita