Last August, Chile's 25-year-old Sole Diaz slayed the women's field to win the second stop of the 2011-12 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour at Ski Arpa in the Chilean Andes. Diaz is currently ranked sixth overall on this year's World Tour, which ends this weekend in the final stop at Kirkwood, Calif., where the season's overall winners will be announced. We talked to Diaz, sister of big-mountain skier Chopo Diaz, about the Chilean freeskiing scene.
You and your brother Chopo have helped raise the profile of freeskiing in Chile. What kind of recognition have you received at home?
The ski industry here in Chile is very small and lacking financially. I hope with these achievements we can get more support, above all from bigger companies. There hasn't been much change yet -- no new recognition or offers. The athletes representing Chile are few, talented and don't ask much.
Do you think your example will help encourage more Chileans to get into freeskiing?
This is my hope. I know lots of Chilean men and women who are talented enough to compete on the FWT and have the desire to do so but they get stuck in the middle of the road because of how expensive the sport is. But they should take the chance anyway. I always try to motivate the Chilean girls to take that first step, showing them how successful they have the chance to be. I believe that very soon we'll be seeing more Chileans on the FWT start list.
You won the Chilean FWT stop, beating a stacked field of athletes by a few points -- a pretty decent margin. What inspired you to turn it on at that competition?
My greatest inspiration at Ski Arpa was competing in Chile and being the only Chilean woman. I felt the pressure to represent my country, and it energized to me to make a strong run.
And when you found out that you actually won?
Pride, happiness, excitement -- I had never been to Arpa before and after my run I felt so good I shouted with joy. It was one of the best runs I've ever had in competition. [Winning the competition] is definitely positive for all of Chile. Skiing here isn't very well known, but the FWT event was covered in lots of mainstream media outlets, and this made the sport better known. We've always had moral support from the people around us, and now from more.
That was one of your best finishes yes, right?
I have spent three years competing in international competitions, and the best finishes were third in Las Leñas, Argentina, in 2010 and third in La Parva, Chile, in 2009. Winning the overall title is one of my main goals.