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Athlete Profile

Skier Crystal Wright



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The Wright Stuff

Written by: Rob Cocuzzo

Crystal Wright is a babe. Better yet, she is the captain of the Jackson Hole Babe Force. This might seem like a crass way to kick things off, if not for that fact that it’s true. Hear me out. The darling of Jackson Hole currently ranked #1 on the Freeskiing World Tour recently formed a female ski posse modeled after Benny Wilson’s gun-slinging Jackson Hole Air Force: The Jackson Hole Babe Force, equipped with patches and all. Their motto? Strong. Sexy. Soulful. While some Air Forcers may shrug off this ski sorority, Crystal (who was actually awarded a JHAF patch last year) is making something abundantly clear with her new posse: The women in Jackson Hole can ride, and they are a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, Crystal isn’t touting her new group in such cutthroat terms as we chat over coffee at Elevated Grounds in the Aspens. She just finished a Glory lap and is decked out in fluorescent Arcteryx outerwear and a smile that rarely leaves her face. “Being part of the Babe Force doesn’t necessary mean that you are the most badass on the mountain,” she explains, her hands cupped around a mocha latte. “It’s more about your passion for skiing.” In fact, a few “token males” will be allowed into the JH Babe Force. (One early male applicant pledged to jump nude into S.S. Couloir for admittance. Though flattered, Crystal pleaded, “Please don’t.”) The broader significance of the group is that in a mountain town known for its testosterone as much as for its technical terrain, the ladies here throw down big. Jackson Hole produces some serious female skiers, and now they’re uniting for intermountain domination. And who better to lead them into the Tetons than Crystal Wright?

The daughter of two devout Jackson Hole ski bums, Crystal enjoyed an idyllic Western upbringing: ranching and riding horses in the Wind River Range by summer, skiing and racing in the Tetons by winter. Her resume reads like a page out of a MVP sports almanac with accolades and championships galore. In recent years, Crystal made the transition from ski racing to the big mountain circuit, the Freeskiing World Tour. Last year’s FWT event in Casper Bowl saw her on the podium, and she enters this year’s tour ranked #1. This despite a year of devastating injuries that included broken ribs, a broken leg, and badly bruised face (the effects of which—sitting before her now I can attest—she has most definitely recovered).

“Being part of the Babe Force doesn’t necessary mean that you are the most badass on the mountain. It’s more about your passion for skiing.”

One explanation for Crystal’s miraculous return to health is her day job. When not pushing herself up and down the Tetons, she’s pushing throngs of athletes to their physical limits as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach. Surprisingly, Crystal hesitates to use her growing notoriety as a professional skier to promote her livelihood as a personal trainer. “I like to keep the two separate,” she says. “I don’t want people to be like ‘I’m going to take Crystal’s class because she’s a big mountain skier.’ I want them to take it because I am a good trainer and I am good at my job.” By all indications, she is good at her job, damn good; 120 people passed through her ski fitness program this offseason. She keeps a Spartan schedule, teaching classes and training clients for 13 straight hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, waitressing at the Calico a few nights a week, and skiing and training whenever she can in between.

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Photos: Jake Johnston


Looking towards this year’s FWT, Crystal hopes to cap off her career with another championship. In a sport of bone-breaking consequences, the soon-to-be-30-year-old skier is riding into the sunset of her career (despite a physical prowess that may suggest otherwise). Nonetheless, Crystal seems to wholeheartedly embrace her seniority as a skier, serving as mentor to a handful of younger girls entering the circuit. “I don’t want to leave the sport until I feel like its good for the next generation,” she says. Crystal has also come to appreciate the maturity that her years of tenure provide. “Being older, I feel mentally stronger,” she laughs. “When you’re younger, you just want to prove yourself. There was always a lot of pressure.” Crystal laments that too many youngsters enter the tour looking to make a name for themselves by dropping dangerous cliffs in lieu of sound, technical skiing. In Crystal’s case, tight technical skiing is what won her the #1 ranking entering the 2012 tour.

“Being older, I feel mentally stronger. When you’re younger, you just want to prove yourself. There was always a lot of pressure.”

In a profession that depends on self-promotion and plugging sponsors, Crystal defies the norm. Her answers are unrehearsed and genuine. Despite her astronomic rise to skiing stardom, she is unquestionably down-to-earth—a disposition that she probably developed from growing up on a ranch 50 miles away from the closest town, without electricity.

She ends our interview with an open invitation to one of her fitness classes. “Tuesdays or Thursdays,” she says with a smirk. The smile is enough to make me wonder if attending could better my chances of earning a JH Babe patch somewhere down the line. “Cool, I’ll be there.”


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Photo: Angela Percival


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