Career

What It's Really Like to Be a Professional Freestyle Skier

In our 9–5 series, we ask boss babes what a day on the job entails. This week, pro freestyle skier Maude Raymond gives us a glimpse into her daily grind

maude raymond freestyle skier: Maude Raymond professional freestyle skier

(Photo: Sarah Dagenais)

Age: 29

Education: Marketing certificate from HEC Montréal and currently studying entrepreneurship and business creation at the same school

Length of time as a professional skier? 11 years

How did you get into professional skiing?

I was originally training as a professional diver so I was in the pool all the time, and I felt this intense need to be free. I used to ski race and I decided I needed to go out and go skiing again. When I was 18, I went to visit my brother in Whistler, B.C. and while I was there, all I did was ski. I would wake up early, go skiing, come back home, eat healthy, go to the gym and go to sleep. I started freestyle skiing and right away, I got a contract with Atomic that was paid.

For those who don’t know, what exactly is freestyle skiing?

Freestyle skiing is an extreme sport, really, and we compete in contests like the X Games. In my mind, freestyle skiing is skiing with no coaches and it isn’t by the book. It’s really a sport where you can express yourself. It’s creative and it’s all about style. It’s about the tricks, but also the way you do it. You’ll get points both for what you’re doing, but also what you look like when you’re doing tricks.

How do competitions work?

There are judges and you have points, based on the tricks you do and what line down the hill you take, that you accumulate during the season in order to do the bigger contests.

So it’s almost like comparing figure skating to speed skating, where it’s more about style and performance than a race?

Yes, I never thought about it like that, but it’s similar except that you don’t have any coaches. What I like the best is the lifestyle that comes with it, you’re in the mountains and you’re surrounded by people that are passionate. It’s all about passion because you do it with no coach or person to push you. It’s the sport that makes you wake up in the morning and makes you want to progress.

When was the moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally?

There was a moment after my first week in Whistler where I took a piece of paper and I wrote down my goals. One was to find a way to stay in Whistler, second was to be a professional skier and third was to have my own clothing line one day. The thing that made me want to freestyle ski was the love I had for the sport, I had a talent for it so that opened up a lot of possibilities and the people and the lifestyle are the best. Also, I loved it because I could put some style into it. Compared to diving or other sports, with this sport it was creative and I could be myself.

How do you make money as a professional skier? 

You have sponsors. That’s who will give you a travel budget and a certain amount of money. You become a type of model for them, being featured in videos and on social media for the brand—kind of like in surfing. For next year, my goals is to film some episodes about the lifestyle and where I’m going and what I’m doing. I’m going to seek out new sponsors to get involved because it’s almost like a commercial for them.

maude raymond freestyle skier: Maude Raymond freelance skier wearing her MAAD Maude clothing line

Maude Raymond wearing her MAAD Maude clothing line

Why did you decide to also pursue business classes at the same time as professional freestyle skiing? 

In life you need some sort of balance. For me, I felt like I needed to go to school for myself and also to be grounded in one spot for four months. I needed to sit down for a minute and work on my ideas and my clothing company, MAAD Maude, and the best way to do that is going to school.

So this wasn’t like a back-up plan for if you eventually stop skiing?

No, I did it because I love going to school! It was good too because off-season, I’m working out a lot so I might as well work my mind too. It’s not for a back-up plan, it’s for balance. I needed it.

How do you get in the zone before a big run?

I listen to music. I visualize everything I’m going to do, and I get hyped.

What’s your current go-to pump up song?

I like very smooth hip-hop and R&B, but right now it’s “Dramamine,” by Modest Mouse.

How would you describe your skiing style?

I’ve been noticed because of my style. People say that I have some sort of “man style,” that I ski like a guy. I think I just have a confident style. It’s not something that I think about, but the way I move I guess is very flowy.

Do you ever get nervous before attempting a new trick/stunt?  

For sure. I deal with it by putting on music, mentally preparing and then putting up the beat, checking all of my gear and counting down from three. At three, I don’t let myself think about it. I become someone else and I’m doing it. That’s something I brought from diving to skiing. My diving coach when I was younger would count to three and no matter what was going on, if you didn’t go at three, you got yelled at. It also helps to not stay on top of a ski jump thinking about it. All the bad thoughts come in if you’re sitting there too long. You go there, get in place, count to three and then you go. If you think about it too much, you’ll never do it.

What is your favourite place to ski?

I’ve skied all around the world, from New Zealand to France and Italy. My favourite place is always a three-way tie between Whistler, B.C., Mammoth Mountain in California and anywhere in Colorado.

What is your advice for those who want to try and ski professionally?

Ski as much as possible. Be at the right place. Stay healthy, exercise and eat well, and when people are partying, don’t get influenced and forget what your goal is. Party, but don’t forget what your goal is and think about your next day.

When did you stop competing and why?

I stopped competing three years ago. I wanted to be wherever I wanted to be. With contests you have to follow people and it was all about points and, more recently, about the Olympics. I remember I was on top of a course in Aspen, Colorado and it was a bad day, it was windy and cold. I realized I didn’t want to be skiing in those conditions, and I would much rather be filming in California. I was inspiring people with the videos I was creating, and I still got to be creative and I was good at it, so I decided to pursue that. I quit that morning. I didn’t even do the contest. I jumped in my car and I went filming. Now I can ski when I want and where I want—that’s really what I wanted to do.

What’s up next for you?

I’m in Whistler at the moment, and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival is coming up from April 7 to 16 and it’s going to be awesome. It’s been on for the last few years, and I used to compete in it. This year, I’m collaborating with Fido, the title sponsor, to show everything that’s going on during the festival from concerts to sports. I’ll be sharing it all on @FidoMobile accounts and on @maadmaude on Instagram tagged with #GoGetIt.

After a long day at the festival or on the slopes, how do you unwind? 

I always go for dinner when I’m in Whistler. The restaurants here are unreal—like Sushi Village, it’s number one. Everyone loves it and so do I.  

Related: 

What It’s Really Like to Be a Pro Snowboarder
What It’s Really Like to Be a Ski Patroller
What It’s Really Like to be an Outerwear Designer
What It’s Really Like to be an Olympic Mountain Biker

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