At Axis, we believe in supporting our local community, by inspiring a love for sports and the outdoors, and by supporting people of all ability levels to do the things they love to do most.
We are thrilled to announce our new Axis Ambassador program, which among other things, helps provide support to local athletes and keep them healthy during their training.
Being a competitive athlete is challenging in more ways than just being physically able to compete. It requires finding a balance between time for long training sessions and work or school life. It also can mean giving up social activities, favorite foods, or even moving away from home to train or compete.
Our first sponsored athlete is Grace Staberg, a local high school student, ultra-runner, and one of the best young ski mountaineering athletes in the US.
Grace started her athletic career as a cross-country runner and freestyle skier in Denver, who grew up skiing our local mountains. She found that her favorite days at practice on the ski team, were the days when they would hike uphill to access terrain. Grace decided to look into ski mountaineering, or skimo racing. Skimo is an established sport in Europe, but is just gaining traction in the US. She looked into local clubs, and found coaches who were passionate for getting youth involved in the sport at Summit Endurance Academy.
Skimo spoke to Grace, because it combined her favorite sports: endurance running and skiing. She soon found she could tailor her training to give her tons of variety from day-to-day. She could tour in backcountry and ski powder one day, and go ski uphill at the resort the next.
Her first skimo race was at Eldora, just two seasons ago. She felt very unprepared, because she had only been practicing for two short weeks. She didn’t know how to do “kick turns” yet, and actually slipped and tumbled down the bootpack and had to do it again. She even considered quitting at one point.
Despite the challenges of her first race, she didn’t give up, and kept training. Hard work and practice paid off for Grace.
Last winter, she became a two-time National Champion in her division, and went to the World Championships in Villars, Switzerland where she had four Top 10 finishes.
That’s quite the jump and reflects Grace’s dedication and commitment to training. While it was a little intimidating at first, she loved the fierce level of competition at the World Championships, and fact that the ski mountaineering athletes from around the world are such a tightly-knit community.
Ski Mountaineering will have its debut as an Olympic winter sport at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland. Having her sights set on the world stage now, Grace is diligently working to qualify for the Junior Olympic team, as well as gain experience competing on the World Cup circuit in Europe this winter. If Ski Mountaineering gets added to the Winter Olympic schedule in 2022 or 2026, you can expect Grace to be working hard to qualify for the team!
In addition to going to school full-time and applying for colleges, Grace trains 25-30 hours a week in order to compete at an elite level! She credits her years as an athlete to help her find balance and a healthy outlet.
Grace tries to be a positive role model, especially for other young, female athletes, by showing them that it’s ok to go to bed early, eat healthy, and skip parties in the name of bettering your performance.
Reflecting on her first race, Grace says, “It’s good that I had a hard time, because now I can encourage others. If you are thinking of trying skimo, give it a try! There are so many local races that are fun introductions to the sport. You can get a taste of it without jumping into full-on racing. Just trying a backcountry tour or hut trip can be a great segue into ski mountaineering, without all the spandex-suit intimation.”
We are thrilled to welcome Grace as an Axis Ambassador. Grace says, “Axis was a huge part in getting me where I am today in running and skimo, after helping me overcome a knee injury.” We are proud to be a part of Grace’s support team!