“I DEFINITELY SPEND more of my time awake at Snow King than anywhere else,” says seventeen-year-old Sophia Tozzi. “I couldn’t even guess how much time I’ve spent there over the years. So much though.” Tozzi, with the rest of the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club (JHSSC), spends several hours five days a week between November and April training on Snow King. This year she is a high school senior and one of the top junior ski racers in the Mountain West. Last season was a breakthrough one for her, even though races in late March and April were cancelled due to Covid-19. In January she made her first career International Ski Federation (FIS) podium, finishing third at Schweitzer Mountain. (FIS racing is the highest level of ski racing, and skiers are ranked internationally by a point system; the lower your point total, the better ski racer you are. “Once you get into the ten-point range, you are most likely on the World Cup,” Tozzi says.) At the end of the shortened season, Tozzi was fifth in the women’s FIS regional standings and the winner of the Western Region Kyle Warren Memorial Award, given to the region’s top junior. “I was super happy with how last season went, and I wasn’t expecting it at all,” says Tozzi, who attends the Community School. “It was my first season of FIS skiing. From now on, it’s all FIS though. Races will be bigger and more difficult, and the competition at a higher level.”
Q: How did last year’s shortened season affect you coming into this one?
ST: At the time it was a huge bummer, but it helped that everywhere was cancelled. If it was just the U.S. races, that would have been hard. But it was everywhere. Now I’m over the disappointment and just have extra motivation for this season.
Q: Do you have specific goals for this season?
ST: I haven’t thought about points or podiums, but I know what I want to work on to improve my technique.
Q: Ski racing has four different events: slalom, giant slalom (GS), super-G, and downhill. Do you do them all?
ST: I’ve always done all the events I could. Last year was the first I was allowed to race downhill.
Q: What was different about last year that you could do downhill?
ST: The rules are that you have to be sixteen to do it. It’s the one in which you go the fastest.
Q: Besides speed, how are the four events different?
ST: The biggest difference is the radius of the turns. Slalom is the smallest and quickest turns. And GS is after that. A lot of people consider that medium turns—not super fast like slalom, but not as long as super-G. By the time you get to downhill, you’re pretty much going straight.
Q: Are you equally good at the different races?
ST: Super-G and downhill are not as great for me as the tech events [slalom and GS].
Q: What do you do when you’re not skiing?
ST: I’m usually really tired so I’ll rest and hang out with my family.
Q: Have you ever thought about quitting racing?
ST:I really like to ski and all of the people involved. The group of girls I race with now, we all moved up together. Racing is “normal life” for me.
Q: Are you as determined and focused in other areas of your life as you are with skiing?
ST:I work hard and get things done in whatever I’m doing. I don’t procrastinate. You’d expect this means I do well in school, but I am definitely not the greatest student.
Q: Do you know what you’re going to do after graduation?
ST: I haven’t really started to think about that.
Q: Some people might say that’s procrastination.
ST: Except not much in the world seems to be following people’s plans right now. JH
—Interview by Maggie Theodora