About

S.A.F.E. A.S. Clinics were started by Elyse Saugstad, Jackie Paaso, Lel Tone, Michelle Parker, Ingrid Backstrom, and Sherry McConkey. With the goals of heightening community snow safety and avalanche awareness we have created a women’s intro to avalanche safety clinic. With the success of last years event, we have expanded to now include two full days at Squaw Valley and two full days in the Pacific Northwest. We hope to foster an open, welcoming environment by which to encourage participation and communication.

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Lel Tone showing us how it’s done during our on hill portion of the clinic.

About Us:

Lead Instructor Lel Tone has been a member of the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol since 1994 and the Assistant Avalanche Forecaster since 2004. Lel has been a helicopter ski guide in Alaska for Chugach Powder Guides and Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for the last 14 years. She is a licensed Avalanche Blaster in the state of California and an Avalanche control route leader at Squaw. She is an AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level 1 and 2 Avalanche Instructor. Lel has been teaching avalanche courses in our local community and around the West for the last 10 plus years.

Ingrid Backstrom is considered to be one of the most influential professional big mountain skiers in the world. She has appeared in 9 Matchstick Productions movies, three Warren Miller Entertainment Films, ‘All.I.Can.’ by the Rocky Mountain Sherpas, the documentary Steep, and has won Powder Magazine’s ‘Best Female Performance’ five times. She considers herself extremely fortunate that skiing has taken her all around the globe, including Pakistan, Antarctica, Greenland, and first descents in Baffin Island and on 20,000ft. Reddomaine Peak in China.  She has completed an AIARE L1 course.

Elyse Saugstad was raised in Girdwood, Alaska and since that time became passionately involved with freeride and backcountry skiing as a professional skier. Between 2007 and 2009 Elyse won many International Freeride Competitions she entered and in 2008 was crowned the Freeride World Tour Champion. For the past few years she has worked with many noteworthy ski film companies  such as Salomon Freeski TV and graced the pages of ski magazines around the globe. Elyse has worked with Chugach Powder Guides as a guest athlete. She has completed an AIARE L1 course.

Jackie Paaso has been a professional skier and a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2009. She spends the majority of her winters competing on the Freeride World Tour and has many notable results like winning the 2010 Squaw Tram Face event and the 2012 Chamonix event. This past spring she filmed with Warren Miller Entertainment for their 2012 movie “Flow State” exploring the Norwegian Arctic. Jackie has been expanding her knowledge of big mountains and avalanche terrain all over the world. She has completed an AIARE L1 course.

Michelle Parker is a 25 year old professional skier who was born and raised in Squaw Valley and has been a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2006. She films with Matchstick Productions and is featured in the latest film ‘Superheroes of Stoke’, whereupon this past fall she was awarded IF3’s ‘Best Female Performance’. Michelle is addicted to chasing winter in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and spends most of her time in the mountains skiing, climbing, hiking, and biking. She has completed an AIARE L1 course.

Sherry McConkey is an outdoor enthusiast who has been teaching yoga for seven years. She is a certified Anusara teacher, a form of yoga that focuses on alignment. Anusara is great for athletes to help with restorative stretching/yoga whereupon your body can heal, gain strength, clear the mind, and ultimately enhance your athletic performance. Sherry is also the founder of the Shane McConkey Foundation, a Tahoe non-profit organization. Sherry is in the process of completing her AIARE L1 course.


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