In the Shadows -- Shannan Yates, Jackie Paaso
Women of the FWT
The Freeride World Tour is a six-stop, big-mountain competition circuit for some of the world's best skiers and snowboarders. Snowboarder Shannan Yates, seen here, and skier Jackie Paaso are among some of the most successful women on the tour, with multiple victories on the tour over the past few years.
Yates has won various stops on the Freeride World Tour, including the Verbier finale in 2010, and the past two years she has placed third overall in the season standings.
Paaso, seen here, won her first Freeride World Tour contest in 2010 at her home mountain of Squaw Valley, Calif. Last year, she ended up third overall on the tour and won the Kirkwood, Calif., stop.
Missing the Limelight
Despite all of their success on the tour and many years spent competing, both Yates and Paaso (seen here) have yet to really have a major breakthrough in their careers. Both maintain other jobs on the side and sponsorship and prize money barely cover the cost of their travel.
Compared to park and pipe athletes, who get television coverage, mainstream sponsorship deals and more prize money, the big-mountain skiers and snowboarders seem to live more in the shadows of obscurity, especially in the U.S.
"The media attention comes and goes," Paaso said. "I don't have that many friends who are pipe and park skiers but it does seem like they get more support and exposure."
"I've traveled the world and I've won events and I come home and nobody knows about it," Yates said. "It's just not getting the attention I feel it deserves for the work and effort I've put into it."
For the Love Of It
Despite the lack of attention, Paaso and Yates say they aren't in it for the money or fame. "This is a way for me to keep doing what I love," Paaso said.
Why She Competes
"I love competing at a high level and the tour has given me so many amazing experiences," Yates said. "I continue with the tour because I enjoy it and I do well."
Paaso in the starting gate at a FWT contest this season. "During your run, your brain is so focused, you kind of shut everything else down," she said.
Her Other Life
When she's not winning big-mountain contests in Austria or France, Yates lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and works as an emergency veterinary technician and a nursing school student.
Paaso Goes Big
Paaso is known for her "go big or go home" style, either dramatically crashing or winning. "For me, I'm more disappointed if I ski a boring line than if I crash trying a line I'm proud of," Paaso said.
Paaso, who grew up mogul skiing in Maine and now lives near Lake Tahoe, Calif., says she competes for the challenge of it. "One of the things that keeps me motivated is the fact that it makes my skiing better," she said. "I've learned how to interpret snow conditions and do physical inspecting."