Christianson born to live in fast lane [Skiing]

October 26, 2013

Whether or not he was on the U.S. Ski Team, Kieffer Christianson of Anchorage would be a ski bum.

Normally he would be in Girdwood this time of year, but now that he got promoted on the national team the 21-year-old alpine racer will travel the globe and compete against the best skiers in the world.

“I love racing in the spotlight,” he told me. “I’m a pretty extroverted person most of the time so I thrive on the energy from the environment around me and it always a lot fun to race in big time races. I am excited to race in the World Cup because it will be the biggest stage I have raced in yet.”

Christianson, of Alyeska Ski Club fame, was bumped up to the U.S. Ski Team’s C squad after spending the last three years on the D team and representing the country at the World Junior Championships [his best finish was ninth in the GS in Italy in 2012].

He has trained with the U.S. Ski Team’s World Cup Tech Team, comprised mostly of A and B teamers, in preparation for the World Cup opener this weekend in Austria.

“I’ve been able to train with the best skiers in the country, specifically Ted Ligety, who is the undisputed world No. 1 in the GS,” Christianson said.

He’s living the life as a professional skier, however, it’s not like he’s living the high life. The U.S. Ski Team picks up most of the tab, but Christianson still has to raise $25,000 to help offset costs.

He created a website for fundraising.

Christianson didn’t always want to be a ski racer. He used to have his sights set on being a bone doctor.

“I was obsessive about it, and would spend hours most nights tracing different bones and I could rattle off the name in the body,” he said. “Once I discovered ski racing my obsession gradually become more pointed towards ski racing and I haven’t really looked back.

“My parents probably wish I was still an aspiring bone doctor, but being a ski racer is what I have wanted to do since I started. It was never really something I would sit around and dream about, it just has always been my top priority, and the thing that has kept me most motivated.”

When he was 14, he captured his first world championship. It’s been downhill ever since.

Christianson is the first Alaskan to join the U.S. Ski Team since Andre Horton in 2000-01 and the first Alaskan to race in a World Cup race since his brother Charles during the 2011-12 season, but Alaska has a rich history in alpine skiing.

Two names – Tommy and Hilary – dominate that history. Hilary Lindh of Juneau was the Olympic silver medalist in the downhill the year Christianson was born, 1992. Tommy Moe of Palmer captured gold and silver at the next Winter Games in 1994.

“The Tommy Moe Invitational was always one of the most exciting races at Alyeska growing up and I thought it was so cool that an Olympic gold medalist who grew up training at the same mountain I did signed an autograph on my helmet,” Christianson said. “I don’t know him personally but he was definitely an encouraging presence growing up in Alaska.”

One thing is for certain, Christianson believes he wouldn’t be where he is today if hadn’t been raised in the 907.

“I can’t imagine getting to the level I am today without growing up in Alaska,” he said. “The ever-changing weather, gnarly terrain and big features that AK has to offer are second to none and great place for a ski racer to grow up.”