Resi Stiegler is a World Cup veteran, having raced on the circuit for more than a decade. The slalom specialist has fought back from numerous injuries in her career, and for the first time in recent memory, Stiegler is starting the season after a full summer of getting strong without also rehabilitating from injury. This is a big deal because she has endured 11 surgeries over the course of her career.
“Obviously, it’s a season without injury, so it’s very different for me,” explains the American. “I was able to build. I did get to go to New Zealand, which I haven’t been able to ski in August in quite a few years.”
Stiegler admits that she wasn’t feeling her best during training south of the equator, but the ups and downs are part of her personal style.
“New Zealand went well. I had some really bad skiing and some OK skiing, so I look forward to improving,” she shares. “I feel like that’s kind of how my style is, so like really up and down. But I feel like I’m the strongest I’ve been in a while and hopefully that’ll just help me long term.”
With the start of the World Cup season a week away, Stiegler has put her strength to use in Saas Fee, Switzerland, with her teammate Lila Lapanja and coaches Magnus Andersson and Karin Harjo. She will spend two weeks training in the Swiss Alps before figuring out if she will travel to Soelden. Stiegler will wait to see how her giant slalom skiing is before making a decision.
“If not Soelden, we’ll break and then start training for Levi,” she continues.
To get her skiing fine-tuned, she’s embracing the vibe of her team.
“You know, our team’s awesome right now and we just added an extra coach to our team with Lila and Karin and [me], and I feel like it’s just going to be this super cool vibe and really positive and energetic,” Stiegler says.
The slalom specialist is hoping that the positive energy will help her take her skiing to the next level this season after more solid results last winter.
“I’m not trying to get top 15 here. I’m trying to get top five, and I’d like to get another podium and be in there,” she explains. “I feel like last year I had really solid results in skiing, but I never actually had my real burst of fiery speed. So I think that’s just what I’m really searching for and working on.”
As if hunting for World Cup podiums doesn’t keep her busy enough, Stiegler also aims to help aspiring ski racers stay in the sport of ski racing. From personal experience she understands that the expenses of the sport can prevent athletes from pursuing their dreams. She has noticed how financial challenges are effecting youth participation in the sport more frequently these days.
“A friend of mine called me and said, ‘Can you just write this girl an email? Her family couldn’t get her through the whole season,’” Stiegler recalls. “I think she was like 15 and she had worked all summer to save money for her racing. And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s just tough.’”
The athlete, according to Stiegler, had qualified for regional championships but was financially unable to afford the trip to the event. Stories like this prompted the World Cup skier to create a scholarship fund from the profits of her latest project – a line of jerseys designed in collaboration with Olympia Activewear.
Olympia Activewear was founded by Stiegler’s friend, Kaili Lickle, a Maui native with a passion for designing functional activewear for women.
“We are a small company and this is just our third year,” Lickle explains. “The hope is to build this spirit of giving back into our model. As the brand grows, so will our ability to give back.”
The scholarship fund is unique because Stiegler does not want the support to focus on national team-bound athletes alone. She hopes to identify athletes with the passion and attitude that demonstrates they will put in the work to compete in a sport they love – even if they never compete at an international level.
Thanks to their friendship, Lickle’s goals for the company and Stiegler’s passion for giving back made the fashion collaboration a natural fit. The Team Resi line, which launched earlier this week, features three jerseys with the number 17 on the front and “Team Resi” displayed on the back. Why the number 17? Well, it has something to do with her boyfriend, Kevin Pritchard, who helped fuel her excitement for the sport of motocross.
“My favorite rider is Eli Tomac, and he started with the number 17, and most of the guys … in the 250s class that run 17 were always really good,” Stiegler explains. “I use 17 as my number when I train on the Brower [timing system]. In skiing, it is a lot about numbers, so for me, 17 was always been my number.”
While the collaboration has started on a relatively small scale, both Olympia Activewear and Team Resi hope to continue working together and growing the collection in the future.
“If anyone has ever met Resi, they know that she is a ball of light,” the founder shares. “She has so much energy and enthusiasm for life. I loved working on the Team Resi photoshoot with her and seeing the product really take on meaning.”
Details of the scholarship fund and application process are still being ironed out by Stiegler and the company, but one thing is certain; this is a long-term goal for the American slalom star just like winning World Cup races. If her persistence through past injuries is any indication, she won’t stop trying to inspire and assist young athletes who want to make their dreams come true any time soon.
Cover image courtesy of Olympia Activewear