Few people can claim even one of the following roles—pro freeskier, BASE jumper, Japanese video star—but that's everyday life for Suzanne Graham. The 24-year-old winner of the 2010 Red Bull Cold Rush travels the world BASE-jumping, and is currently the world’s only active female ski BASE jumper. She built her multisport career while completing a college degree at the University of Utah.
While Graham claims to have a kind of 'shy dorky personality,' she is anything but when it comes to talking about skiing, BASE-jumping and combining the two.
How did you end up living the life you have right now?
I grew up going skiing every weekend at Alta. I never got into racing really, I tried it for a couple years but never loved it. I would always just want to go out freeskiing instead of race practice. I idolized Seth Morrison... (didn't everyone?) All I wanted to do was huck huge laid out backflips off cliffs.
What's on your plate for this season?
Last year I won the Red Bull Cold Rush, which was one of my career highlights for sure, Ill be back there again this year [at Silverton Mountain, CO], and I'm hoping to do some personal filming projects this year along with filming with a few production companies.
What’s with the Japanese music video on your website?
Ha! That Japanese music video was filmed all in Alaska, which was amazing. (Graham starred in a video as a stunt double for a Japanese band, as a pure-white clad skier and ski BASE jumper).
Now that you have 360 BASE jumps and 25 ski BASE jumps under your belt, do you still get scared before a jump?
Now it's still a nerve wracking but that's a good thing, because it keeps you on your toes and ensures that I stay totally focused. Complacency is a very real danger in BASE jumping…and Ski BASE can be tricky, because you really have to be extremely comfortable on a pair of skis, jumping, hitting cliffs, doing flips- you need to have excellent air awareness with your skis on, which is a totally different ballgame than just regular base jumping. You also need to be pretty comfortable with all kinds of BASE jumps, like doing aerials. Ski base may seem simple when everything goes perfectly- but it doesn't always... so you need to have the skills to deal when it doesn't.
My biggest hope is to be able to inspire other people, especially other women, not just to do what I do, but to be inspired to live out their dreams, no matter how crazy or off the wall they are.