SCOTT Pro Skier McKenna Peterson on Gear, Guts, and Girls in Skiing 

Robin Azer | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

[sponsored by SCOTT Sports]

SCOTT Pro Skier, McKenna Peterson. Credit: McKenna Peterson Facebook

SCOTT Freeride athlete, McKenna Peterson, has been backcountry skiing since she was 16 years old. She spends her summers as the Captain of her own commercial fishing boat in Alaska so she can shred big mountains all winter. We recently caught up with her to ask about the gear she uses, the terrain she favors, and pushing boundaries. 

“Wintersports is about testing yourself – seeing the possibilities that you are presented and pushing yourself to seize the greatest challenges.”

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#1 How did you get into skiing and what lead to it becoming more than a recreational hobby?

I started skiing before I could walk so it has pretty much been ingrained. Luckily for my ski bum parents, I enjoyed it from the get go. Same with my brother and sister. Skiing is the most important thing for our family— behind family.

I ski raced pretty seriously until I was 19 when I found the Freeride World Tour and made the transition to big mountain skiing. I was having so much fun with the big mountain competitions that I kept doing it and kept progressing over the years. Film and photo opportunities started to come about and that’s where I am now. I never expected to ski professionally; it was never a realistic ’dream’ of mine. I loved to ski and all I wanted to do was ski. This is where it has lead. I guess there is something to be said about following your passions.

“I loved to ski and all I wanted to do was ski. This is where it has lead. I guess there is something to be said about following your passions.”

# 2 When/ where was the first time you skied huge terrain?

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“One hell of an adventure!” McKenna in Alaska Credit: @anikulapu/ElliottBernhagen.com

I remember being at the top of the ‘Forbidden Cirque’ in Kirkwood for their Freeskiing Nationals, I was maybe 20 years old, and realizing that I was in a serious ‘no fall zone’. It was early morning and the venue was rock solid, slide for life conditions. It was the first time I had been in that type of situation. My heart was racing; I started shaking with more than just the usual competition nerves. Then everything slowed down, went into focus and my confidence soared. This was one of my first conscious recognitions of flow state.

“Then everything slowed down, went into focus and my confidence soared. This was one of my first conscious recognitions of flow state.”

That is the coolest face— I would love the opportunity to ski it again.

#3 Current ski gear setup?

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McKenna’s favorite jacket – the SCOTT Vertic GTX Credit: Mike Schirf @Schirfphoto

SCOTT Vertic GTX jacket and pants. This jacket is seriously the best women’s jacket on the market— it’s simple, durable and the longer cut is incredibly flattering. SCOTT compact LCG goggle and Symbol 2 helmet, the smaller frame of the compact LCG keeps me from looking like an alien. BCA 32 L Float Pack. K2 Luv 110 boot and badass new K2 women’s freeride skis that I am currently helping to design… keep an eye out for them in 2020 😉

#4 Gear you can’t live without?

Keefer Lake Lodge Credit: @skicampguy/ Jeff Engerbretson

Voke Tabs; Green tea and guarana berry energy tablets that I bring into the mountains every time I go. They have helped to keep me moving while on a big mission and bounced me back from midday energy lows.

#5 Other gear in the arsenal you like to use?

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Keefer Lake Lodge “… great terrain, soft snow and wild times. Credit: @skicamguy

Puffy stuff! I love micro puff layers, especially the ones that can pack down into almost nothing. My every day mid-winter backcountry kit consists of 3 micro puff layers; SCOTT insuloft light vest, SCOTT insuloft light jacket, and the SCOTT insuloft 3M jacket for the extra warmth.

#6 What’s the ultimate thrill ride for you?

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Captain McKenna runs her own commercial fishing boat, shown here in Stika, AK. Credit: McKenna Peterson Instagram

I have two: 1) climbing and skiing a big line in good style. 2) I captain a commercial salmon fishing seine boat in the summer and rolling a bag of salmon onto the deck is the coolest feeling, an incredible thrill.

#7 What’s the scare factor on this type of terrain and how do you overcome it (or make it work for you)?

“We worked hard for this one and enjoyed every moment.” Haines, AK Credit: @mck_p

I do get scared. I overcome the fear by learning. Accumulating as much knowledge as I can about the mountain, the snow, the line, the terrain features and undulations… all information helps. If I put in the work to climb a big line, rather than being dropped off by a helicopter or snowmobile, I ski the line with much more confidence. Climbing the line, or the mountain, gives me a chance to feel the snow and understand the minute details.

“If I put in the work to climb a big line, rather than being dropped off by a helicopter or snowmobile, I ski the line with much more confidence.”

#8 Boundaries in women’s skiing are continuously expanding. How do you think it will impact the rising generation of female skiers?

McKenna sends it in Alta, Utah. Credit: @Schirfphoto

I’m hoping that opportunity and interest in female big mountain skiing continues to grow. I am already seeing the younger generation come up with big dreams and incredible talent. These ladies will continue to push the sport. I’m excited to watch it all unfold.

#9 What do you see as some of the barriers to more women joining the ranks of big mountain pro skiers?

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Preparing to drop a big line Credit: @zachhalverson

Although more and more brands are recognizing the benefits of supporting female skiers, it feels like there is still limited space (at least in the sponsorship world) for professional female big mountains skiers. Hopefully this space continues to grow and we start seeing ski brands support more than one or two women.

#10 Finally, best skiing on earth?

Sun Valley, Idaho during the spring corn cycle… best skiing in the world, there is nothing like it.

Big thank you to McKenna for sharing her experience and photos with SnowBrains.

To find out more or to follow McKenna on social media: 

Website: mckennapeterson.com

Facebook: McKenna Peterson

Instagram: @mck_p

Salmon fishing in Alaska in the off-season. Credit: @grundens

 


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