Deep powder, untracked terrain and a rally truck called “The Pussy Wagon”, it’s all good times for Whistler sledder Stephanie Sweezey.
The backcountry is a beautiful place, but it’s not known for a plentiful abundance of women, let alone petrol loving chicks on sleds. Maybe because sledding is not an easy sport to just pick up and get going. It takes serious investment. It’s tough on the body, the wallet and demands determination. But put the hard-yards in and you will reap its many rewards: plentiful terrain, untracked powder and your choice of any line you’ve got the ‘balls’ to access. Snowmobiles open up a new world of possibilities. For some riders they give you opportunity to push your backcountry skiing or snowboarding but for others like Stephanie Sweezey, sledding offers just enough stoke. For her, there is no need to snowboard anymore.
I met Stephanie Sweezey over ten years ago in Whistler, snowboarding. At the end of one season she bought a sled, bought a truck and then asked me to teach her to drive. We stalled that truck all up and down Squaw Valley Crescent! That’s what I love about Steph. Even back then she had her priorities straight: sled first, truck second and then get a driving license. The rest she’d figure out along the way. We spent that late spring running laps in the Whistler backcountry on her Mountain Max, dropping each other at the top so we could snowboard down. Last year I was in Whistler and asked her to come snowboarding with me. She doesn’t do that anymore. She gets all she needs from sledding… and she’s got damn good at it too!
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Steph on her Arctic Cat. Photo by Nadia Samer
Hey Steph, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for fun?
You’re one of the best female sledders around, what got you into it?
You ride in quite a crew – a mix of both girls and guys. Is there a notable difference in how they approach the sport?
Sledding is a tough sport which involves lots of preparation, planning and knowledge as well as serious physical strength. How do you plan for an expedition to the backcountry?
If you’re heading into the mountains you’ll need avalanche gear. A transceiver probe and shovel are the bare minimum but these days there’s all sorts of other fancy live-saving devices such as avalanche air bags and avalanche lungs to help keep you from going under. Along with having all that gear it’s super important to learn how to use it first. A basic two day avalanche awareness course is a great start. After that the mental and physical part is all a matter of how much the sport grabs you. There’s no real preparation for it.
What is it like for a women in the sled world?
Is there a trick that you are focused on learning this winter?
I don’t really do tricks, but I would love to get some whips down this year. I just aim to attack technical lines and drops with finesse.
What is your proudest moment sledding?
Do you have any specific goals in the sport?
What do you wish you knew when you first started out & what advice would you give to another girl wanting to get a sled?
Sledding in one word?
Thanks Steph! Keep pushing it and can’t wait to catch up with you again this winter!
Stephanie Sweezey dropping bombs in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Snowmobiling in Whistler BC”