Mountain Born and Bred
Picturing longtime U.S. Ski Team member Resi Stiegler as a joyful 6-year-old bombing down the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is easy when you see her slalom today. Whether raising her poles to celebrate the end of a race or chumming with fans, one thing is obvious: Stiegler is happy to be skiing.
“I think it’s inspiring to watch people enjoy what they do whether they win or not,” says Stiegler. “For me it’s more about bringing that inspiration to people and showing that I love what I do — and I really, really, do.”
After 15 years on the U.S. Ski Team, Stiegler shows no signs of slowing down. She had the comeback of her career in the 2016 season and hopes to build on that base in 2017.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Alpine Ski Team
Stiegler’s love of ski started when she was introduced to the sport at age 2. Her parents worked at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where her dad, Olympic gold medalist Pepi Stiegler, was the ski school director for 36 years. Resi’s mom encouraged her to start racing at age 6, but the 30-year-old says her mom never pressured her to be the best.
“It was kind of like day care going to the mountain every day with my dad,” she says. “I never had a moment of questioning it or wondering if it was what I should be doing. I just loved skiing.”
Stiegler made the U.S. Ski Team at age 16. She has represented the United States at every level of alpine ski racing — Topolino, Whistler Cup, Junior Worlds, World Cup, World Championships and the Olympics.
Stiegler is a serious competitor, but she’s also dedicated to enjoying what she does. Early in her career she raced with tiger ears attached to her helmet. She’s phased out the tiger ears — for now — but still carries them in her travel backpack.
“I’ve been criticized for having too much fun, if you will, but for me I just want to be having the time of my life all the time, and I want to be inspiring people to have a good time. I know there are a lot of hardships in everyone’s life and not everything is going great. I want them to see someone enjoy what they do,” she says.
Despite her optimistic outlook, Stiegler has suffered her share of injuries, surgeries and disappointments. In 2014, Stiegler failed to qualify and was kicked off the U.S. Ski Team. She skied 2015 as an independent and managed to regain a spot on the team the following year. But she blew out her knee and only had seven months to return to snow after the injury.
“I was on a mission to get back to skiing and racing, and I didn’t give myself a break mentally, I wasn’t going to relax until it was over,” Stiegler says. “Every race was really solid, and I got more confidence.”
Coach Bern Brunner and teammates Thomas Biesemeyer, Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Erik Arvidsson worked together on Stiegler’s return-to-snow program, inspiring her in what ended up being the best comeback season of her career. Stiegler garnered seven Top 15 finishes, two Top 10 finishes and was ranked 13th in the world in slalom. Stiegler hopes to build on that solid base this season and add her signature spark of crazy fast skiing.
“I love being challenged and raising the bar and being better, and I think I do a good job of keeping up and showing that hard work really does pay off,” she says.