An Ode to Angel – FREESKIER

Featured image: Jeff Cricco

There are those who are shaped by the sport of skiing and then there are those who completely change the industry just by being a part of it. Angel Collinson is, without a doubt, one of those special few. An undefeatable force on skis, Angel will go down in ski history not only for the many accolades and accomplishments she has gathered throughout her professional freeskiing career—two-time Freeskiing World Tour champion in 2010 and 2011, ESPN Top 50 Females in Action Sports in 2014 and the first woman to ever win Best Line at the Powder Video Awards in 2016, just to name a few—but also for her genuinely positive and kind nature. 

PHOTO: Jeff Cricco

To meet Angel is to know her. An open book overflowing with love, acceptance and wisdom, Angel will be revered more for her dedication to creating meaningful connections with every person she meets than any big Alaskan line she’s conquered with poise and grace. In the wake of announcing her retirement from professional skiing on her personal Instagram page, we at FREESKIER would like to pay an ode to one of skiing’s greatest. Below are a collection of thoughts from industry professionals and fellow athletes who have had the fortuitous opportunity to work with Angel throughout the years, and have felt the lasting impact of what it’s like to be in her presence. 

From everyone in the industry, thank you, Angel. Skiing truly would not be the same without you.

“I only worked with Angel one season for ALL IN, but did I ever learn quickly how amazing of a human she is. Kind, courteous, creative, adventurous, hilarious, ambitious, talented… the superlatives could keep flowing. As a skier, she is remarkably graceful yet powerful—the show that Angel, Elyse and Michelle put on in Alaska that year was some of the best power skiing I’ve ever seen, women or men. Her confidence and comfort was incredibly impressive, even in tricky conditions. She railed everything, from techy steeps, to spines, to lines with blind, mandatory exits. Earlier in the year, while shooting in Revelstoke, I tweaked a knee freeskiing. Carrying a camera pack around was going to be a struggle. But Angel would be at my side after a shot before I’d even had the chance to pack up, ready to swipe it away from me to haul it to the next spot. That’s just the kind of person she is: selfless, always looking to make everyone else’s life easier…and better. Our Snowbird segment that year rose out of reading her posts; she has a real way with words, and I felt her poetic perspective of the simple act of skiing at home could really resonate with a lot of people. She nailed it, and it turns out it did.“ — Scott Gaffney, MSP Films

PHOTO: Scott Gaffney

“Angel has had a long and esteemed skiing career and has been a valued part of the Smartwool brand for much of it. Smartwool is excited to continue working with Angel and support this new chapter in her life as she focuses on other important work, including mental health.” — Alex Pashley, Manager, Sports Marketing for Smartwool

PHOTO: Jeff Cricco

“Growing up with Angel was probably the best “brother” experience one could have. She led the way in many walks of life, from teaching me to climb out of my crib, to guiding me around Snowbird when she was six and I was five. She was always a few steps ahead of me with her perfectionist mindset, and technical ability to hone her craft, whatever it might have been. Ski racing took her around the world, and it looked like when she left that sport, she was going to go to college full time. One of my proudest moments may be when I was able to convince her to at least try the Freeskiing World Tour, just once, to experience the world of free skiing, with no gates, freedom to explore the mountains, and a supportive community. Fast forward ten years and she has won every accolade a professional skier could wish to garner. Magazine covers, world tour champion titles, multiple female performer of the year awards—the list goes on. What stands out even more than any of the hardware, is the style and grace she shows not only with her turns and awe inspiring line choices, but with her dedication to caring for people and the planet. She could probably care less about any award, but rather she cherishes the moments spent connecting with our friends in the mountains. Her legacy will live beyond the big screen (her skiing speaks for itself) but that you can charge the biggest lines, and do it with an open heart and gracious attitude. Thank you Angel for being my sister, mentor, friend, coach, support—thank you for showing the ski world a new page, and now creating an entryway for more young skiers to do the same.” —John Collinson, brother and professional skier

PHOTO: Jeff Cricco

“Skiing with Angel always caught me by surprise because although she’s small in stature she’s an incredibly powerful skier. The first time I saw her ski was in Chile around 2010 and I was blown away with how dynamic and impactful her skiing is. I skied with her in Revelstoke a few years ago and looked over my shoulder to see where she was, only to realize she was right on my heels. I believe that Angel’s legacy is to be transparent and open with personal growth and pushing herself through those challenging stages of life that ultimately leads to discovering her higher purpose. — Mark Abma, professional skier

PHOTO: Jeff Cricco

“Angel Collinson is a rockstar. Not only is she one of the most talented skiers in history, she is also kind, funny, and modest. She has always brought a mixture of professionalism and sense of fun to the skiing community. We are extremely sad to see her leave but applaud her decision, and we look forward to seeing the same stoke she has brought to skiing in her future adventures. The MDV family will miss her dearly!” Sarah Lauridsen, Director of Promotions at Marker Völkl Dalbello

PHOTO: Scott Gaffney

“Angel will be remembered and celebrated as one of the best big mountain skiers to ever click into a pair of skis. Beyond that she should be remembered as a shining light, a woman that truly lives up to her name. She always brightens up a room with her infectious smile and attitude. She is wise beyond her years, she showed us that through her skiing and she shows us that through her ability to walk away from skiing when her heart was no longer in it. She is one of the most humble, real and talented people you will ever meet. I’m honored to call her a dear friend and I’m so excited for her new adventures as she sails the world.” Ian McIntosh, professional skier 

PHOTO: Scott Gaffney

“I was very disappointed to hear Angel is retiring. She’s hands down one of my favorite athletes to shoot with. She’s extremely talented on the planks but she’s also such a sweetheart. When you go on a film trip there’s a good amount of stress—weather, heli budgets that are scary to begin with, down days that seem to last the whole trip… But it’s always a pleasure with athletes that keep their cool and make it fun along the way, and that’s Angel. One of my favorite memories was on a trip to Girdwood for the MSP movie ALL IN. After a pretty stressful trip with challenging weather, she forced the film crew to put the cameras down and take a free run and wouldn’t take no for an answer. We will all miss you Angel, but stoked for the new chapter in your life!” — Jeff Cricco, photographer

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