NO RE-GRETE: The inside line on Grete Eliassen
Interview by John Stifter
It’s difficult to determine what’s cooler about Grete (pronounced Greta) Eliassen: the fact that she doesn’t train for slopestyle or Superpipe comps until she shows up at the venue a few days before the comp, or that she designed Armada’s women’s ski with a male supermodel for the graphic because she’s tired of seeing girls on skis. The 18 year-old American-born Norwegian’s attitude of “just wanting to have fun,” resonates on and off the hill, whether it’s poking fun at online ski-chat forums, boosting out of the pipe, or rippin’ Norwegian pow. With multiple major contest victories, and sponsors like Oakley, Armada Dakine, Tecnica, Red, and Windell’s Ski Camps, this comic young lady is making quite the impact in the freestyle world. And we hear she throws a kick-ass spread eagle to boot.
Powder: What are you doing these days?
Grete: I’m actually studying for a final for my health class and then I’ll be done with high school! Wanna help?
Powder: Not really, cause I want to ask you a few questions and dispel some rumors. We’ve read a few threads on newschoolers.com saying you just recently got married to an ugly, Asian dude named Freddy. Is there any truth to that story?
Grete: Unfortunately, no. Still single. Actually, tell people that I really did marry an ugly, Asian dude.
Powder: How does that feel now that you’re in the spotlight and people are making up rumors about your personal life? Do you find it to be kinda cool, are you indifferent, or does it piss you off that people are so intrusive?
Grete: I love the gossip, especially on newschoolers. It’s so much fun to go online and check it out cause it’s so funny to see what people are writing. Most of the stuff in the forum section of newschoolers isn’t true, so it’s pretty fun to read all the gossip.
Powder: Tell us about your childhood skiing experience, because you’re not originally from Norway right?
Grete: No, I’m actually from Highland Hills, Minnesota. I lived in Minnesota until I was 13 when my family and I moved to Norway. My dad is Norwegian and he thought it would be a good opportunity for my family to experience a new place and culture if we lived in Norway. So, we ended up moving to Lillehammer, Norway.
Powder: Do you still live in Lillehammer?
Grete: No, I live about three hours away to go to this public school that actually has a ski class, so I can balance my schedule a little better when I’m away.
Powder: You grew up racing in Minnesota. How many years did you continue to race?
Grete: I raced from about 10 to 16 years old. I joined a ski team here in Norway and worked my way up to the F.I.S. level and eventually raced for the Norwegian Europa Cup team. I raced all disciplines, both technical and speed at the F.I.S. level, but slalom was my favorite event.
Powder: How was that experience racing all over Europe?
Grete: It was an awesome experience, but it took too much time. I really just wanted to win and once I won I realized that there are bigger things in life besides just racing. Looking back though, it was the best decision of my life to ski race.
Powder: After an extremely successful career as a gate basher, what motivated you to try out the freestyle scene?
Grete: I actually wasn’t really checking it out at all because I always did it. After training for racing I would just switch skis to twin-tips and go mess around on the jumps and rails. When I used to train at Hood in the summer for racing we would always go and check out the freestyle scene.
Powder: Tell us about skiing in Norway. What is the freestyle scene like?
Grete: The twin-tip scene here is so big. Pretty much every Norwegian skis, so they all know about twin-tips. There are so many good twin-tip skiers here but since no companies or competitions are here they are totally unrecognized. But the interest is huge; twin-tip skiing is more popular than snowboarding.
Powder: Do you think your racing background has helped you technically with skiing slopestyle or edge control in the pipe?
Grete: It has helped me a lot. It’s just so important to know how to carve. You have to know how to ski to be able to really ski.
Powder: Do you ski any backcountry or big mountain, or do you mainly ski park now?
Grete: Yes, I ski all over the mountain. That’s actually why I still go to this school, because of the skiing around here. I have so much fun skiing all over, especially in the powder. And I hardly ski park because there aren’t any parks at the school I go to, just a bunch of rails.
Powder: So where do you train then for Superpipe and slopestyle comps?
Grete: I just show up a few days before the comps and practice new tricks and work on old ones.
Powder: Describe for us your gold medal-winning Superpipe run at Winter X Games IX?
Grete: I was just having so much fun skiing. I thought I skied a good run, but had no idea I won until everybody started hugging me after my name came up first on the scoreboard. I seriously freaked out when I found out I was in first place. I definitely exceeded my expectations.
Powder: What inspired your old-school victory lap down the Superpipe course after wining X Games gold?
Grete: I just wanted to go have fun and do some old tricks. I didn’t really care about doing anything cool; I just wanted to have fun. Plus, I love spread eagles. I really think they are one of the hardest tricks if you do them right. I just wanted to go as high as I could and spread my legs. I’m definitely going to break that out when I get older.
Powder: What other skiers do you find yourself admiring or respecting, both male and female, and who do you like to ski with the most?
Grete: T.J. Schiller because I really like him. Pep Fujas, Jon Olsson—I really like those guys. I also just really like to ski by myself. As far as other girls, Sarah Burke and I have a blast skiing together because we go out and know the tricks and kind of feed off each other. Instead of having to explain the tricks to other skiers, Sarah and I go out and challenge one another.
Powder: Are we going to be seeing you in any new ski movies this year?
Grete: Yeah I filmed with [Eric] Iberg for Poor Boyz this last year and it went really well. I’m hoping to film a lot more next year.
Powder: What are your plans after high school?
Grete: I’m going to the University of Utah in the fall. It should be a great time because I’m living with a friend in Salt Lake and I’ve never been to Utah. I’m going to take the winter quarter off and then go back in the spring, so it will probably take a long time to finish school but I have to have a backup plan or else I’d complain too much. If I just ski I’ll complain and if I just go to school I’ll complain, so hopefully the two will balance it out.
Powder: What are your plans for next season concerning competitions? Are you going to enter more comps or less?
Grete: I’m definitely going to do more comps next season—as much as possible. I’m really excited cause it will be my first year doing everything and having the time to do everything without having to worry about school during the winter.
Powder: What about your immediate skiing plans as far as traveling or training for next season? Any ski camps like Windell’s?
Grete: I’m going to Windell’s and then to New Zealand in August. I’m going to ski at Snow Park, Treble Cone, and Cardrona while in New Zealand, which is such a great place. It has great vibe with few people, and skiing pow in August is so much fun.
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