(Photo: Warren Miller)

Warren Miller’s Newest Star Thinks You’re Taking Yourself Too Seriously

As a professional leisure athlete, Katie Burrell has a lot of advice—listen up

Warren Miller

from Ski

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No one makes me sweat like Katie Burrell. When given the nod to interview her, I was shaking like a sweater-less chihuahua with separation anxiety. Now, I’ve been lucky enough to interview members of skiing royalty before, but how do you prepare for the Queen? Not only is Ms. Burrell a professional leisure athlete-comedian-mogul-icon-Internet sensation, but she is also the undeniable meteoric star of the newest Warren Miller film, “Daymaker.” Even longtime ski film narrator Jonny Moseley said her segment was the greatest thing his mouth has ever encountered. Why? Because no one compares with the incomparable Katie Burrell. She’s the leader skiing needs right now. Don’t miss her segment in the new Warren Miller film, Daymaker, and get your tickets now. 

O’CONNELL: What’s your first skiing memory?
BURRELL: My dad took me to the bunny hill at Mount Washington Alpine Resort on Vancouver Island. After a few laps, he decided that I could handle the green chair, and I was very keen. But I didn’t realize that you had to actually get on the chair. And once I saw the chair, I was immediately terrified and told my dad I was not getting on it. He said, “Well, you have two options: You can either ride the green chair to the top and we can ski to the chalet or we can walk to the chalet.” So, of course, I chose to walk. I always choose safety and comfort over anything else.

But he made me carry my skis and poles, and I’m like 3 or 4 years old at the time. I am trudging behind my father, like 50 feet behind him, just struggling. Well, he turned to look at me and I glared at him, and said, “God will never forgive you for this.”

Oh, oh, dear. Has God ever forgiven your father?
I think he has.

Have you?
That’s a great question. Maybe less so.

When you hear the phrase “ski season,” what are the first three things you think of?
Cute outfit, cozy sweater, champagne.

What’s more important: edge control or a goggle tan?
Goggle tans are really passe. They are very 2006 for me at this point. It’s like, where’s your SPF? Like, you’re just being irresponsible.

What does it mean to be a professional leisure athlete?
It means you’ve somehow tricked the entire ski industry into supporting you skiing two runs and getting drinks at the base. Basically, being a professional leisure athlete is retiring while you’re still working. And having a strong après habit.

So for those two runs… describe your ski style.
Non-committal, like very not committed. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. And it’s very much at my own pace. Everyone else can just wait. I think somewhere along the lines, everyone forgot that skiing was supposed to be fun and good for you, and not hard on your self-esteem. I’m just trying to really come back to that. And skiing should be good for your relationship, not hard on it.

How can the rest of us achieve your skiing style and your leisure athletics?
Stop trying to be really sick at skiing, just start enjoying it. Wear fur collars, wear tight pants, and wear whatever you like. And if your legs are tired, go to après. And ski with people who don’t secretly wish they were pro skiers. Also, get back in bounds, and use the chairlift more. It’s all about the chairlift.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a leader in the ski community?
I was at the back of a pack for so long that I realized I needed to find a different pack. Honestly, I was trying to keep up with the wrong pack, so I decided to create my own pack. And originally, it was just a one-person pack and it has grown sort of accidentally since then. I guess I’m realizing I was born to lead. It just turns out it was from behind. 

What are the chief characteristics of a leader in the ski community?
Being true to yourself, making other skiers feel like there is room for them in the community, and knowing how to properly layer.

Tell me about your experience filming with Warren Miller. What were the highlights? Were there any letdowns?
The highlights were the amazing camera crew and amazing creative producers, finally showcasing my talent at the Freeride World Tour, and getting to ski with the best skiers in the world on these blower days. But when I think Warren Miller I envision 5-star slope-side accommodations, but we road-tripped and slept in this trailer in parking lots. Honestly, I’ve never been much of a camper. Ew. And I slipped on a rail in the park and got an ass injury which I feel held me back from showing the ski community just how strong of an athlete I truly am.

Is your segment in the film aspirational, inspirational, or motivational?
Not to toot my own horn, but it’s all three.

What advice do you have for skiers today?
Don’t earn your turns, deserve your turns. 

What advice do you have for me?
Your wife’s the boss and once you understand that your life will get a lot easier.

If a young skier came up to you and said, “Katie, you’re an icon. I want to be just like you.” What would you tell them?
Stop trying to be iconic. That’s not iconic.

As a professional leisure athlete and Warren Miller’s newest ski film megastar, what is the one thing you want to tell the skiing world?
Stop trying so hard. Like, it’s easier than you think. I mean, I am 34. And I am just warming up.

Tickets are available now for a showing of the new Warren Miller film, Daymaker at a theatre near you. 

Lead Photo: Warren Miller