A day with Alison Gannett

December 12th, 2005

I had the chance to sit down with Alison during her time in Austria to get to know this amazing person better. Alison has achieved so much and continues do to so as we speak. Her career path is nothing short of ordinary and her participation to the women’s team has been tremendous.

What does a day of training entail for you?

This depends on the season. I will train 6 days a week but I will vary my training depending on what my goal is – bike racing the Trans-Alp, ski mountaineering expeditions, randonee racing, surfing, etc. I like to vary so everyday is a different day and focus on having fun and being outside. In the summer, I will mountain bike anywhere between 3 to 10 hours, do sprints, or do lyengar Yoga (focused on alignment, stretching, and holding a pose for 20 minutes!). I used to ski in the summer, but have found that eight months of winter is plenty, and that I need to recharge between seasons. I try to do a surf trip each off season – surfing a short board 2-3 times a day gets my body really fit. . In the winter, since I am also very often in hotels, I try to hit the hotel gym or go running outside. But most importantly, I do a lot of backcountry skiing which leads me to 5 hour up-hill hikes and a full day of skiing. I continue my yoga throughout every season which keeps my body in balance from all those cliff jumps, and in the fall; I focus on power straining with sport cords and box jumps to focus on ski-specific muscles.

Do you have a strict diet on and off season? What does a meal consist for you?

I wouldn’t say I have a strict diet, but I do eat healthy and try to eat wholesome foods that are not processed, European style! I try to focus on “good fats” compared to “no fats”, like avocados, olives, and olive oil for example. I also try to eat organic and bio products as much as possible, but I must admit that I have a weakness for sugar! I try to avoid alcohol as well, and drink lots of water and tea.

What would you say is your favourite meal?

I think it would be safe to say that my favourite meal is a home cooked thanksgiving turkey diner. Very traditional in the United States. I also love northern Italian and Indian food, which I eat all the time,

Does your lifestyle change a lot from on to off season?

No not really. I am always strict with myself, except trade shows, when I have no choice but to go with the flow and party down. -The fall is hard, because it’s the season when I travel the most. I try to maintain a balanced lifestyle and having my priorities straight is very important. I also recognize when my body needs rest and that I need a lot of sleep, daily.

What would you say is the best thing about being a professional skier?

There are many great aspects about being a professional skier, but I would say the main ones are travelling, getting to know people from various countries better, and the HEAD women’s team. When I travel, I usually take as much time as possible to visit the town and get to know the local culture. I take my time to film in these locations, do interviews, and take pictures.

Where is the best place you have travelled to? You may of course have more than one!

I have been to so many beautiful places, on all continents except Antarctica, so it is really hard to pin point particular places, but I would have to say that my top two places are Bhutan in the Himalayas and northern Brazil. I went to Bhutan two years ago for a 3 week skiing expedition. Although this is not the best skiing I have ever had, the country was simply beautiful and the people the nicest and happiest people I have ever met. They even say themselves that the country has a higher GHP (gross happiness product) than the traditional GNP. As for northern Brazil, I had just won the South American free skiing championships in Argentina and took 5 weeks to learn to surf in Brazil. The foods, the people, the culture, the music, the dancing, the black magic, everything was wonderful.

Since you are in the public eye and you have the ability to influence people, what would you like to project as a skier?

I want to inspire people to follow their passions, their dreams. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to be more than a skier. It really touches me when people come up to me and tell me I have inspired them.

If you were not a skier, what would you do? What would be another dream “job” for you?

I have many dream jobs- I have always been interested in hand-writing analysis, as my aunt is an expert and makes six figures with this job!. It fascinates me how you can know someone’s personality traits and characteristics by analysing the way they write. It is most often very accurate. I have founded and am president of a non-profit organization for alternative energy, alternative building and energy efficiency and volunteer frequently for affordable housing and sustainable development in my town and ski area. I am also training to be a certified Mountain Guide, in particular, ski mountaineering.

Besides being a sponsored skier, I am the lead ski pack designer at Osprey and also design socks for Fox River. I’m an athlete ambassador for Patagonia – responsible for product design, testing, working with dealers and reps, working at the Patagonia Land Trust in Argentina and Chile, and speaking at their stores around the world. I’ve been traveling with my “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History” multi media show that includes my photography and clips of the movies I have created, I travel not only to Patagonia Stores, but also big film festivals, trade shows, and corporate sales meetings. Each of the shows also benefits a non-profit that I work with, such as the Maya Nut Project in Central America, that works with women’s cooperatives to promote sustainable agriculture or 1% for the Planet.

One of my dream jobs was to develop authentic women’s products for Head, and that is now coming true! With representatives from countries all over the globe, the women’s team is truly a work of art - there is no other team like it in the world. I really believe what we are doing will change women’s product design forever.

What is the most touching moment that has happened to you, so far in your life?

A woman, after participating in one of my women ski camps, told me that I had inspired her to follow her passions and become a stronger person which led her to leave her abusive husband. That story still touches me every time I talk about it. It is really amazing to think that I could inspire someone into making such a life changing decision.

Tell me a funny story that has happened to you while travelling or at home for example?

Anyone ever read the book the “Red Tent”? If you have, then you know that women in the middle Ages were all sent to a tent to menstruate together. When women travel together, our cycles sync together, like the old days. On our expedition to India for the first ascent and descent of Hanuman Tibba, this exact thing happened, to a very extreme extent – very amusing, but also a drag when you are stuck in a tent in a blizzard at 6,000 meters. We didn’t want to carry all those tampons with us, so we staged a ceremonial burning on an avalanche shovel with some cooking fuel.

Finally, but none the less, tell me a joke that you would tell your friends?

Well I know several jokes, but they should not be published. But here is a “politically correct” one:
Q: Why are men and pantyhose alike?
A: They either run, cling or don’t fit right in the crotch.

Thanks Alison!