Local skier qualifies for next year’s FWT

By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

SNOWBIRD, Utah – Sasha Dingle had her doubts early in this ski season, having spent the previous year in Vietnam, off the snow, and suffering from a pinched nerve in her back this January.

“I wondered if I might have set my expectations for this year too high,” she recalls.

But the Bozeman-based skier has blown those all out of the water, qualifying for next year’s Freeride World Tour through podium finishes at the Moonlight Basin, Taos, N.M. and Crested Butte, Colo. Subaru Freeride Series events, and a first place finish at the Snowbird event, April 13-14.

On the first day of the Snowbird competition, held at Silver Fox, new snow made conditions at the venue soft, and Dingle earned a score of 91.00 that day by becoming the second woman in Snowbird competition history to hit the large “smoke stack double,” landing in powder.

“It was kind of a free game,” she said, explaining that while she’d been “playing it safe to be more strategic and finish” in the previous competitions, she skied a line in Silver Fox “that I was excited and a little bit nervous about.”

On day two, a hard freeze left a crust layer over the North Baldy venue, and Dingle chose a line on the north-facing, skiers’ left side, which had better conditions. She started the run through a section of the mountain called Fields of Glory, then continued through the Blonde Rocks with a creative line, setting herself up for the Flying Squirrel, where she threw a 15-foot exit air.

Dingle’s skiing – which the judges described as confident and smooth – earned her a score of 84.33 on finals day. Her total score came in at 175.33, placing her atop the podium – her first time winning one of these comps.

This was Dingle’s third year competing on the qualifying tour, and the first time she ranked high enough to join the FWT.

“I am stunned,” said the Vermont native and former ski racer. “It’s been a crazy progression.”

Dingle graduated in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in psychology from Montana State University, and spent last winter teaching business communication at Vinh University in Vietnam, on a Fulbright Fellowship.

“A lot of this year was for me,” she said. “That mentally made me stronger in competition. When I was scared of the line in Snowbird, I was looking at the mountain range at the top and thinking, ‘This is exactly where I want to be right now.’” Competing on the Freeride World Tour next year is “going to be a huge learning curve,” she added.

Dingle’s sponsors are White Gold Design, VOKE Tab, and Skier Shop.