Frame of Mind Series 1: Heather McPhie
A few weeks ago, we launched our Frame of Mind Series where we highlight local ambassadors of different ski resorts. For our first series of interviews, we are focusing on Solitude Mountain Resort, nestled in awe-inspiring Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Get inspired, learn what makes these local pros tick, and introduce yourself when you see them in the lift line. Know someone that you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
For our second interview of the Frame of Mind Series, we spoke with Solitude Ambassador Heather McPhie. As a former gymnast, Heather brought her aerial skills and athletic determination to the U.S. Ski Team where she crushed Freestyle Moguls. In 2012, McPhie became the first moguls skier ever to pick up a Red Bull sponsorship! Heather leveraged those new wings and proceeded to add four more World Cup podiums on her way to finishing fourth in the moguls standings, then at season’s end, took her very first U.S. National title. Not too shabby!
Spread Stoke: Where is your hometown?
Heather: I grew up in Bozeman, Montana. I moved to Park City in 2004 and have been in the area ever since. My husband and I recently purchased a home in Salt Lake City, UT.
SS: Who can you usually find yourself on a chairlift with?
Heather: Graham Watanabe, Annika and Zac Kay, Emily Cook, Rob Lauer, Tim Akers, and many more!
SS: Conditioning off the mountain is an essential element to performance on the mountain. Do you have any training techniques (whether physical or mental) you would like to share?
Heather: Off-hill conditioning is extremely important to being able to continue to play in the mountains. When honing in on the most important aspects, I think it largely depends on your body type. I naturally build muscle pretty quickly, and get tight even quicker, so for me I think maintaining my flexibility is one of the most important things. Ideally I go to yoga 1-2 times per week. Also, as a woman, maintaining hamstring strength is really important as well for injury prevention.
SS: What’s been the most challenging aspect of being an athlete?
Heather: When I was competing on the World Cup and Olympic level, I think one of the most challenging things was living out of a suitcase for approx. 6 months/year and skiing rain or shine. I absolutely loved my sport, but when a course was bulletproof, it became a job. Now, if it’s icy, I go home!
SS: Besides shredding the white wintry wave, what else do you enjoy doing?
Heather: I love to PLAY! Some of my favorite things to do besides resort skiing are: rock climbing, mountain & road biking, yoga, skate skiing, backcountry touring, reading books, and anything with friends.
SS: What is your life motto?
Heather: Happiness is a choice. I’ll always take luck, but hard work is more consistent!
SS: What fuel goes into your body before and after a day on the hill?
Heather: Most mornings I eat organic slow-cook oats with a bit of molasses, cinnamon, chia seeds, and peanut butter. I usually put fresh berries and/or pumpkin seeds on top as well. I find that I stay full longer and have plenty of energy for whatever the day brings. I also make overnight oats quite a bit with greek yogurt and coconut milk.
SS: What does skiing do for your soul?
Heather: It might sound cheesy, but being in the mountains is the closest thing I have to a religion. The beauty of the mountains, and the play time is absolutely key to my wellbeing. I love connecting with nature and disconnecting from my phone (it dies in the cold in about 10 minutes, and I love it!). Beyond that, I’m almost always skiing with some of my favorite people.
SS: Solitude, it’s all in the name. What are some of your favorite attributes of Solitude and how is it unique from other Utah resorts?
Heather: Solitude is unbelievable. It has great terrain for all abilities, and such a mellow vibe. I also love that some of the best terrain is a bit of an effort to get to. A 5-10 minute effort can get you to amazing runs that feel secluded and peaceful.
SS: What goes through your mind before, during and after executing or capturing a technical line or feature?
Heather: My best runs have been when nothing is going through my mind during besides pure joy and focus on exactly what my body is doing in that moment. Before I usually just take a deep breath and remind myself of one or two technical skills that help me ski my best. After, I just enjoy the adrenaline rush!
SS: When you’re not on the the hill, what can we most likely find you doing?
Heather: Working my day job in wealth management, and when I’m not doing that PLAYING outside or in the climbing gym or yoga studio. I’m such a believer in an active lifestyle and I do my best to do something active every day, even if it is just for 20 minutes.
SS: Let’s talk 2017 Goals: What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
Heather: You can expect me to be up at Solitude any chance I get, sharing my love of the resort with others, and smiling underneath my buff with every turn I make.
SS: As athletes, you serve as role models in the outdoor industry. Any advice, reflections or ideas on the types of things you would like see the outdoor industry strive for?
Heather: I think it might be worth considering pushing the competitive season back a bit. It seems like at the beginning of the comp and recreational ski season we are always fighting mother nature (blowing snow, doing everything possible to get open), ideally we could start once we get enough snow, and play in the mountains later into the spring when we often have plenty of snow. I realize this might not be economical though, as everyone seems to be chomping at the bit for the snow to fly in the fall, and ready to move on by April. But me…I’m always ready to ski, and if we had snow in July, I’d still be playing in it!
SS: What’s bumpin’ in your earbuds?
Heather: Absolutely nothing. I used to listen to music all the time when I was on the slopes, but I’ve come to love the peacefulness, and the feeling of life slowing down that I get on the mountain when I relax into the silence or the presence of a good friend with no distractions besides powder!
SS: Spread Stoke’s values are: do what you love, leave this world a better place than you found it, and spread stoke to those around you. How do you demonstrate these values?
Heather: Those are some great values. I do what I love both on and off the slopes. One of my promises to myself when I retired from competitive skiing was that I would take the time to really find my next passion path. I’ve found that in the opportunity to help people with their finances and decreasing their stress around money. By doing something that I love, I’m not living for the weekend, I’m living for every day. I do my best to be a positive in the lives of others, and I spread the stoke through my contagious enthusiasm for life and the activities I choose to participate in.
SS: Do you have any shout-outs to sponsors?
Heather: Although I am no longer a sponsored athlete, I have so many sponsors and friends that helped me throughout my ten years on the U.S. Ski Team and through 2 Olympics. Red Bull: Who took a chance on me and a new sport, and supported me at an unbelievable level with life changing experiences, high performance coaches, and much more. Moment skis: Which I still play on every time I’m on the slopes, and have provided me with countless amazing turns! POC: Over ten years of sponsorship and incredible opportunities. lululemon: For keeping me comfortable, functional, warm, and stylish…still not a day goes but that I’m not wearing lulu and that includes at my job in finance! Solitude: For the opportunity for Graham and I to be ambassadors and spread our love of the mountains and particularly the resort with those around us. Oakley: My longest sponsor, anyone who isn’t seeing through Oakley lenses is at a disadvantage in my opinion. And finally, Full Tilt boots: The most comfortable alpine boot I’ve ever worn.
We hope you enjoyed our Frame of Mind interview with Heather McPhie. Be sure to say “Hey!” to Heather on the hill this season and give her a follow on Instagram @HeatherMcphie!
Stay tuned for our next Frame of Mind interview. If you know someone who should be featured, let us know.