Five Questions with Colin Boyd and Jackie Paaso

You might think that something with “free” in the name seems out of place in our Competition Issue, but in the case of the Freeride World Tour, you’d be sorely mistaken. The FWT is one of the most intense competition circuits—and competitors ride some of the most extreme faces—on the planet: Chamonix, Revelstoke, Verbier… the list goes on.

Jackie Paaso, 31, who finished third overall last year and just won her favorite event at Chamonix, started skiing at age 4. At Sunday River. Colin Boyd, 27, managed to qualify for the FWT this year with no sponsors to speak of and banked a solid eighth-place finish at his first event. Both are graduates of Gould Academy and the Sunday River School of Awesome, which totally exists, so we asked them to tell us a bit about life on Tour and, well, life in general. They happily obliged (as Sunday River folk tend to do):

Colin Boyd.
Colin Boyd.

Colin, where’s your hometown and where do you currently live?

I am from Eliot, Maine, but I’ve spent most of my summers in Bryant Pond, just around the corner from Bethel. Currently, I am living out of my suitcase in Europe, but I have been based in Wanaka, New Zealand for most of the past five years.

Which three words would your best friend would use to describe you?

It depends which friend you talk to, but I guess we’ll try motivated, independent, and adventurous.

Tell us how you got from Gould to the Freeride World Tour.

Gould was a huge stepping stone in a number of different ways, but having the opportunity to ride nearly every day and learn about competition, training, and seasonal endurance was pivotal. After Gould, I attended St. Michael’s College in Vermont, where I ended up working with Burton Snowboards for three years, in their marketing department. Many trips west and a year in New Zealand opened my eyes to new places and bigger mountains. In 2009, I moved to New Zealand semi-permanently and also took my first of three trips to Japan, where I ended up guiding clients to the deepest pow stashes in Hokkaido. In New Zealand, I met some friends who were competing on the Freeride World Qualifying Tour and I decided to try out some contests. They went pretty well, locking in second at my first 2-star event and winning my first 4-star event in 2011. I had knee surgery that year, so I came back focused, achieved the same results in NZ, and flew to the States to complete the qualification. Last year in California, I took sixth at the North Face Masters and fourth at the Taos Extreme, which put me in the top of three spots for North American riders going onto the tour.

What would you consider the biggest obstacle that you’ve overcome, either personally or professionally?

That’s a challenging question, but I guess the most honest answer is myself. Negativity, fear, doubt, selfishness, and all sorts of demons float in and out of my mind on a regular basis. However, finding the strength to overcome these feelings, especially during the lows, requires a lot of determination, belief, and positive energy. I have found that when I am able to overcome this negativity, I am more capable myself, and I have a much stronger impact on those around me.

What are your most pressing goals right now?

Well, my strategy to take out the podium on my first three events didn’t end as I envisioned, so now, I have a lot of ground to make up in the next two contests in order to stay in the top eight [and re-qualify automatically]. My girlfriend and I have also decided to leave New Zealand, so finding a new home base and everything that goes with it is also high on the priority list.

Jackie Paaso Podium Chamonix
Jackie Paaso. Photo: Freeride World Tour

Jackie, where’s your hometown and where do you currently live?

My hometown is Bethel, Maine and I currently split time between Lake Tahoe, California and Are, Sweden. Or my suitcase, the rest of the time.

Which three words would your best friend use to describe you?

Restless, caring, and shy.

Jackie Paaso. Photo: Freeride World Tour
Jackie Paaso. Photo: Freeride World Tour

Tell us how you got from Gould to the Freeride World Tour.

When I graduated from Gould, I continued to train and ski moguls at Sunday River for a few seasons after graduation. Eventually, I retired from mogul skiing and did some park skiing for a few years. I never really got that interested in skiing park, and decided I wanted to get out into the mountains more. In 2008, I was living in Lake Tahoe when a few friends suggested that I enter some big mountain competitions. One thing led to another and two years later, I had received a wildcard for the Freeride World Tour. It’s now my fifth season competing on the FWT!

What would you consider the biggest obstacle that you’ve overcome, either personally or professionally?

The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome would have to be when I decided to quit mogul skiing. I started when I was 9 and I dreamed of going to the Olympics from the very start. I had a lot of success skiing moguls, but after taking a season off due to injury, I found it hard to come back with the same motivation I needed to be successful. I knew I loved skiing, but for a few years, I felt [as if] I had no direction and was missing something. I hadn’t [reached] a point in my skiing that I was satisfied with. When I started big mountain skiing, I found a new passion and the motivation I needed to succeed again.

What are your most pressing goals right now?

Right now, I’m still working on getting my skiing to a level that I’m satisfied with. Although the more I ski [and] the more I progress, the more I realize that this may be a constant goal of mine. I think I’ll continue to find more ways to progress in the sport and the mountains, even when I’m older. There is still so much that I can learn and I hope to continue to take it all in over the years to come. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind winning the overall title in the Freeride World Tour.

*This story appeared in Sunday River This Winter. For more stories, pick up a free copy on stands now.

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