Ikon Pass holder and professional freeskier Amie Engerbretson grew up carving out lifelines across her home mountain of Palisades Tahoe formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. From early turns as a 10-month-old on the rope tow to today’s big mountain adventures that dot Ikon Pass destinations around the globe, Amie has embraced a long line of stoke – one action-packed season at a time.
The Ikon Pass crew sat down with Amie to discuss her journey from lil ripper to professional athlete. Get locked-in as we discuss gratitude, community, and what keeps her moving in the mountains.
So, give us the quick hits. Who is Amie Engerbretson?
I’m a freeskier or big mountain skier – however you want to call it – and I’ve been skiing professionally for going on 10 years now.
Born and raised in Northern California, I’ve lived in Truckee since I was about 5 years old. Luckily, that means that the landscape of Olympic Valley has always been my home mountain.
To date, I’ve filmed for five Warren Miller movies, as well as been on a number of magazine covers, and have been published a bunch as well. I’ve also been producing some of my own personal projects. For example, last season I released my first film, Snow Pony, which is about learning how to snowmobile as a way to access skiing.
I’m actually in Alaska while we talk, filming another personal project with Sweetgrass Productions. So that’s super cool.
And you’re an Ikon Pass holder, right? Being a big mountain pro, fill us in on what the Ikon Pass unlocks for you?
Well, personally, I really enjoy having an Ikon Pass because it lets me get out and visit all the other mountains and communities I love so much. Yes, Olympic Valley is my home, but I love traveling, chasing snow and linking up with friends.
My mountain community extends far and wide, and we all have the singular love of skiing and chasing good snow in common. Then, when I’m done traveling and skiing, it makes it all that much sweeter to come back right back home to Olympic Valley.
This last year has been, well, a little bit different. What did the 20/21 season mean to you?
Well, in terms of this current season (20/21), I’ve still been traveling by car to places in the west. But realistically, it’s been a lot less travel than normal. I mean, I’m not going to Japan, I’m not going to be BC, I’m not going to Europe, I’m not going to Iceland… I’m not doing all these crazy adventures.
Because of this, it’s been the days spent at my home resort that have carried so much more weight this year, and I’m just more grateful to have those and embrace the fact that I live at one of the best resorts in the world [Palisades Tahoe]. I think it’s this simpler side of skiing where I’ve been holding my excitement and joy this last season.
Yeah, I think a lot of people can definitely identify with that. What about next season? What are you looking forward to?
Sure. Well, of course, the elaborate adventures are great, but I think what I’ve missed the most lately is just skiing with people and being with people. I’m really looking forward to getting our events back and be able to go see live music with friends, or have a true après or have a big dinner party. That’s the thing that I’m most excited about, being able to gather with my community again.
When I think about Olympic Valley, there are two sides to it. The mountain itself is out of this world – in my opinion, it’s the best mountain setup for skiing on the planet. But our community is what gives Olympic Valley so much meaning. And to be able to get our community back together, like physically, I think that’s what I look forward to the most.
Oh man, to be riding and hanging in the mountains with the whole crew again, that will feel amazing. I can’t wait. You grew up riding high on that Olympic Valley Stoke, right?
Yeah, the thing to know there is, when I was born, my dad was pursuing a life as a professional skier. He had moved from Northern Idaho to Olympic Valley in order to chase his dream of competing in the moguls circuit and trying to film. So, I came into a world where my dad’s passion, love, and excitement was in the mountains, and therefore mine was.
That’s the life I was born into. Our life revolved around skiing and around Olympic Valley. So, when I was a little kid, it was a lot about just trying to hang out with my dad, and just be like him.
It sounds like the stoke runs deep at Olympic Valley. I imagine that many stories parallel this parent-to-snow-to-child relationship, across Ikon Pass destinations coast-to-coast. But, talk to us a little bit more about Palisades Tahoe. If you’re packing your bag to go shred for the day, what are you taking?
Haha, well, all the latest equipment du jour, because that’s how I roll. I’m always wearing next year’s everything.
But then, for a Olympic Valley day, 100% I have to have my cookie pass for Wildflower Bakery. I think I check for that before I check and make sure I have my actual ski pass. And then, I don’t know… I feel like I don’t need anything else, because everything else just happens out there.
Honestly, that’s what I love about skiing Olympic Valley; you don’t need anything. It’s not about the things I have with me. Like I have all the coolest gear – whatever, that’s great. But, I get out there, and I usually don’t even make plans to ski with people. I just see who’s skiing and end up riding the lifts with friends or meeting up with people for a run. And you just don’t need anything but your body, basically… and I think that’s coolest part.
I love that, the idea of just getting out there and welcoming the moments as they come. That’s a super soulful approach. Leaning into that come-as-it-may philosophy, where do you think the ski industry is headed.
Well, skiing has changed in a lot in some ways – like obviously what people wear and all the superficial stuff – but I like to think that, basically, skiing hasn’t changed at all. People like to ski because of freedom, because they’re outside, and they feel the magic of the mountains… like, that’s not different at all.
Yeah, does the base of Olympic Valley look different? Totally. But the terrain of KT doesn’t look any different, you know?
Yes, the world is always about progression and so all these things are going to change and be different. And sure, there’s a bunch of good things about having better amenities at the resorts. But, like, the skiing’s not going anywhere, the skiing doesn’t change.