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Jack of all Trades: Sophia Schwartz '09

Sophia Schwartz’s ‘09 wide-range of talents is on the big screen at the If3 International Ski Festival starting Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.  The film called Jack of all Trades is about her 2020 winter journey to complete three goals: land a double backflip, ski the Grand Teton, and ski the Jackson Hole Trifecta.
Schwartz is not just a jack-of-all-trades on the snow. She’s also a Dartmouth grad with a degree in neuroscience and biology and is known for her excellence as a skier, jumper, mountaineer, and knowledge of nerdy science facts.

Check out the trailer and this 2016 Holderness School Today interview we unearthed where Schwartz talks about her experience at Holderness.

What snow sports did you do while at Holderness?
At Holderness, I was part of the Eastern Freestyle Program that partnered with Waterville Valley. I was primarily a mogul skier but also competed in halfpipe and slopestyle.    

Where did you practice? What were your workouts like?
I trained at Waterville Valley Ski Resort. We got out of class at 12:20 and hustled up to the mountain, eating lunch on the bus. I would warm up by doing short swing turns on a groomer run, before heading over to our mogul course on True Grit. Our team would lap the mogul course or hike a jump for the afternoon. If we didn’t have evening classes, we would go to the trampoline and practice our tricks in a safe environment.    

What is your most vivid memory of skiing at Holderness?
In my first year, Eastern Championships were held in Waterville Valley. During my first run, I crashed pretty hard doing a backflip on the bottom jump. Luckily, I still had a second run. It was cold and windy. I was nervous and a little beat up. I remember standing in the start gate and looking out over the White Mountains covered in snow. I thought of all the other frozen days I had come out to train, and all the times I had skied the course. I pushed off and skied my best run of the day and earned my first podium of the season. To this day, I still try to take in the view from the top of the course.    

What are your memories of your Holderness coaches?
The Eastern Freestyle team was coached by Waterville coaches Nick Preston and Rob Day. My memories are full of sushi dinners on the road before and after competitions and constant heckling. They pushed me to be the best I could be, but I always felt they cared for me as a person and had my back no matter what.    

Why skiing? What keeps you coming back?    
Mogul skiers have to be able to do it all. We have to be both technical skiers and jumpers.    There is always something to keep working on, and if I am having a bad day, there is always something else to focus on. Freeskiing is play, and our world needs more unregulated play!   

How did Holderness support/encourage/ develop your love of skiing?
Holderness gave me balance and made me tough. I’ve always loved skiing, but having other interests keeps me passionate. At Holderness, I played field hockey and lacrosse. I was a biology nerd and a pro dishwasher. I had friends that celebrated my on-snow accomplishments and friends who couldn’t care less. In addition, coming from the sunny soft Rocky Mountains, I didn’t know how to ski on ice. The tough Eastern conditions demanded that I learn grit and how to fight through mistakes.    

What is your favorite skiing memory— Holderness or otherwise?
It was my first ever World Cup start. The Deer Valley World Cup in 2014 was a night event, and I had always dreamed of skiing under the lights. As I stood in the start gate, I did my typical gaze out over the terrain below. Only lights from houses spotted the hills. There was a huge crowd of over 5000 people. I had stood in that crowd at the bottom of the course before, but in that moment, I had the opportunity to be at the top. I was so happy and appreciative to be exactly where I was standing.

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