How to Become a Pro Skier–Tips to Fund Your Dream

There are many ways to become a professional skier, even if you didn’t grow up skiing competitively. Below, I’ve listed some things that I’ve learned in the dozen years I’ve been pursuing this profession. This isn’t the only way to fund your dreams, but I’ve found it’s what’s worked for me.

-Don’t listen to your parents when they tell you to go to graduate school and become a lawyer, doctor or businessperson. Don’t listen to anyone. They don’t understand your dream. Only you know what’s possible for you.

-Live within your means. Move to a place where you can do that and ski regularly. There aren’t too many ski towns like that left, but they are out there. Don’t acquire debt. Then ski a lot. Find other pros or aspiring pros to ski with. Contact local videographers and photographers to shoot.

-Figure out your personal brand and start building it. Keep your social media pages and websites updated with information that shows who you are. Research your ski idols and figure out how they built their careers. Contact potential sponsors that align with the personal brand you’ve developed.

-Plan to spend some time each week on the computer. Being in charge of a ski career is similar to running a small business. Prepare to learn how to do your own accounting, marketing, advertising, sales, negotiations and production.

-Set realistic goals for yourself. Start working on them. Figure out what your sponsors goals are, and figure out how you can contribute to their goals. Being able to throw a double cork or skiing the gnarliest line doesn’t mean you should get sponsored. Figure out the value you can bring to the companies you want to work for.

-Keep a job with a flexible schedule that allows you to ski during the day until you can make enough skiing to quit your job. Live with your parents (even though you disagree about your career choices doesn’t mean you can’t be agreeable to live around) or couch surf with friends. If you travel, keep it cheap. Offer to make dinner for the hosts whose couches you will be crashing on. Do dishes, keep it tidy. Leave any “base camp” you visit cleaner and better than you found it.

-When you’re not skiing, and you’re trying to make ends meet, Hustle. Pick up odd jobs. Organize and run yard sales for your friends and families to make some extra skrilla. You’d be amazed at how much you can make for piles of stuff people want to get rid of. Get a food sponsor. You gotta eat.

-When you do get that call from the photographer, it’s time to get some shots in the bag. Be professional. Show up on time, with your gear organized. Don’t be hungover. Don’t talk too much, listen to the direction from the photographer. Now you are going to realize that being a pro skier isn’t exactly what you think it is. Powder days are spent moving at snail paces with film crews. Shooting is about finding quality snow and terrain, not how many laps you can get in.

-Develop a thick skin for rejection and public criticism. You will hear a lot of nos, from sponsors, from photographers, from other athletes. Keep doing what you love and persisting. Have fun and be safe. Make sure you have health insurance and consider disability insurance.

HEAL Utah Podcast

I recently sat down with Matt Pacenza, executive director of environmental non-profit, HEAL Utah , to catch up about what it’s like being a professional skier, activism in the outdoor industry and what athletes are doing to help clean up the air.
Check it out here and let me know what you think!

CG’s Holiday Gear Guide

In search of the perfect Holiday gift for friends and family? Look no further than Caroline Gleich’s Holiday Gear Guide! All the best gear that I’ve tested and hand-picked.

These are products from the brands that sponsor me. Having tested their products for years and years, I chose to endorse these brands because I feel they are the best in the industry! I am so hard on my gear, so here are items that I recommend that will last.


The Patagonia Arbor Backpack and Duffel are a great set for travel and adventure. Plus, the unique print means they won’t get lost in the mix. I’ve taken mine all over the world. The fabric is durable to protect electronics and other contents, but the pack is still lightweight enough to fold up and store when it’s not in use.

The Black Hole Duffel is my go-to for keeping my gear organized, whether it’s ski boots and backcountry gear in the trunk of the car for a day of skiing or expedition mountaineering luggage for an international trip. These bags are water-resistant, durable and useful in many ways.

The Nano-Air jacket is one of Patagonia’s latest technical innovations. The fabric is so light and supple, it feels like you’re wearing almost nothing. They are warm and wearable, and can go from expedition to downtown without a worry.

Goal Zero The Goal Zero Flip 20 Recharger is a must for any smartphone user. It’s great for travelers, a long day at work, or for active outdoorspeople. I always carry one in my purse or in my ski pack so I can recharge my cell phone when the battery inevitably runs out. The Light-A-Life Mini Lantern is a must for campers, in tents or otherwise. I use one with a Flip Recharger while sleeping in my car, and it bring a delightful glow into any space. It’s a great stocking stuffer.




For protecting your electronics. I keep my phone in my LifeProof case 24/7. It’s helped my phone survive falls into the backtub and off the side of 100 ft cliffs. Whether it’s moisture, dirt, snow or children, a LifeProof case on your smartphone protects your investment.


  Nordica For the ripping lady in your life, I highly recommend the Nordica Nemesis skis. These skis are my one-quiver wonder when I’m traveling and I have to bring the one ski that can do it all. They rip in powder, they handle the steeps, they are manuevable and perform well at all speeds. I can’t tell you how much I love these skis.   Leki For the hiker, backpacker, trail runner or skier or for anyone who ever gets sore knees, I highly recommend Leki’s trekking and ski poles. These poles are incredibly sturdy and they break down to fit into even the smallest trail running pack when you decide not to use them. They make river crossings or steep downhills so much easier! I use them all the time.

Next up…who doesn’t love Clif Bars! They are the perfect gift for your favorite office staff, and a great way to say thank you to teachers, doctors, or other important people in your life. I always have my pantry well stocked with Clif Bars, and they are another item I almost always carry with me when I’m traveling.

Other gift ideas? Why not make a charitable contribution to a non-profit. I recommend:

Protect Our Winters,

the Arbor Day Foundation

or your local Avalanche Center!

Why I Devoted My Life to Opting Outside

<script async src=””></script><a class=”m-story” data-collapsed=”true” href=”″>Why I Devoted My Life to Opting Outside</a>

Why Trails Are Meaningful to Me

As part of REI’s #everytrailconnects campaign, I was asked to answer the question of why are trails meaningful to me. As a professional skier and mountaineer, this question made me dig deep into my background in the outdoors and connect with my roots. Often, I like to venture where there are no trails, but the trailheads are always the start. To me, trails are a source of inspiration. They reignite my childlike curiousity and help me remember my drive to explore, to see what is around the next corner. Trails force me to be intimately connected with my surroundings, to remember each rock and tree and to notice the subtleties of foliage and sun.

To me, trails mean a sense of belonging. It is on the trailhead where I meet up with my tribe, and on that trail where I can be my true, authentic, wild self.

My favorite childhood memories were made on the trail, backpacking through the Wind River Range, the Sawtooths and the San Juans with my dad and my brothers. Growing up in the Midwest and traveling to the Western US, I was awestruck by the rugged beauty and complexity of the mountains, and it was there that I found my sense of place. Those mountains stood in stark contrast to the flatlands of the Midwest, and it gave me a goal to look towards. I always knew I wanted to go back and climb those mountains. I loved the alpine starts, watching sunrise while walking with my family.

In college, I majored in anthropology. I spent a lot of time learning about human evolution. Sometimes I feel more akin to the ancestral homo sapiens, the pre-modern human who roamed around, hunting and gathering and living off the land. The trail connects us to our ancestral self. Whether we are looking to pick the best huckleberries at our favorite stash, searching for that beautiful, high, alpine lake, or hunting down the best powder on skis, going out on a trail is a practice that is innate to us.

In this way, trails connect us with our humanness and our tribe. They also connect us with our environment. On the trail, we remember we are not superior to nature. Every trail connects us to our place in the natural world. Trails help us find our edge and push us to make brave choices. They give us a framework for exploring our wilderness. Trails mean stewardship and a chance to leave no trace. It’s one arena where humans can have little impact.

My very first job in the outdoor industry was working at the Salt Lake City REI, first as a cashier and a greeter, then as an action sports specialist. I loved meeting people who were excited to venture into the outdoors and I’m excited about REI’s ongoing commitment to giving back, to protect and improve the places we love to play. This year, REI will give back $5.9 million dollars to nonprofits who are committed to caring for outdoor places, and this fall, $500,000 will go to trail networks in the places where REI members live and play. Check out to learn more.

And remember, adventure is not a destination, it’s a state of mind. Whether you live in the city, the mountains or the sea, there are always opportunities to have an adventure and interact with the natural world. Be brave, play hard, have fun and be safe.

Blog post created in partnership with REI. Photo Apr 13, 6 26 32 PM Photo Aug 01, 6 42 07 PM Photo Aug 01, 7 24 15 PM Photo Aug 03, 10 09 43 AM Photo Aug 08, 5 10 46 PM Photo Aug 12, 1 33 50 PM  Photo Jan 16, 5 05 28 PM Photo Mar 26, 7 53 06 PM Photo May 08, 11 42 56 AM