Where students go for winter sports

Extreme Ballard skiers share their favorite spots and skiing background


Courtesy of Kate Lauderback

Senior Kate Lauderback skiing “upper international” at Alpental, one of four Snoqualmie skiing areas.

James Liska, Sports Editor

When the rainy season comes in Seattle,some students only have one question: Is it cold enough to be snowing in the mountains? Unlike most others, Washington skiers and snowboarders have a positive outlook on the dreary winter days because cold rain in Seattle translates to fresh powder in the Cascades.

Much to the delight of senior skiers Gabe Kenison and Kate Lauderback, this season  started earlier than expected due to unusual November snowfall in the region. Both Kenison and Lauderback consistently spend as much of their winters skiing as possible.

“I usually ski about 30 times a year, and my highest is 52,,” Lauderback said, who has been skiing since she was only 3 years old.

Lauderback’s dad was a member of Snoqualmie’s ski patrol, and she attributes her early start to this connection.

In her 15 years of experience, Lauderback has experimented with many styles of skiing. 

“I was a racer for all of one day. It was a lot of standing around and worrying. Then I was really into freeride for a couple of years,” Lauderback said. 

Freeride skiing is defined by skiing on natural, ungroomed and off-piste terrain.Now, Lauderback spends most of her ski days at Snoqualmie Pass, but her favorite place to ski is the advanced terrain of Southback via Crystal Mountain’s Chair 6. 

“Southback involves a lot of walking and climbing so a lot of people say it’s not worth it, but it is,”Lauderback said. 

Lauderback is not someone who backs down to challenges on the mountain. 

“If someone says ‘do a backflip’ and the powder is right, I will break my neck for it,” Lauderback said.

Kenison, who set his season goal at 50 ski days, favors a different style of skiing. 

“I was starting to get bored of doing the same runs over and over again, so a few years ago I decided to venture into the terrain park, and ever since then that’s just all I wanted to do,” Kenison said. 

Like Lauderback, Kenison has been skiing since a young age. He is now a freestyle skier, and has mastered many tricks including backflips, frontflips, 720s, sliding on rails and spinning off rails.

“I normally go to Snoqualmie because it’s close and decently cheap,” Kenison said. “Since it’s a Wednesday and school gets out early, I’m actually going to go up to Snoqualmie today to get some night skiing in.”

 While he typically goes to Snoqualmie because of its proximity, Kenison’s favorite place to ski is Sun Peaks in British Columbia, Canada. At over 4,200 acres, Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski resort behind Whistler Blackcomb. 

“Sun Peaks has a huge terrain park. It has a bunch of different sized rails and jumps so you can get started out there, but even if you’re really good at park, you’re still going to have a good time,” said Kenison. “Sun Peaks also has a run called ‘5-Mile’. I don’t think it’s actually five miles, but it’s so long. It goes from the very top of the tallest mountain to the base, and you can just rip down the whole thing.”