Professional Snowboarder 3-Time X-Games Gold Medalist & TTR World Champion
Professional Snowboarder Four-time X Games Gold Medalist & Olympic Silver Medalist
Professional Freeskier, Role Model & Inspiration
Champion Freeskier & Action Sports Pioneer
Teen Snowboarding Phenom
Triple Threat: Surf, Snow & Skate Competitor
CHAMPION FREESKIER &
ACTION SPORTS PIONEER
Hometown Hopwood, PA
Resides Mammoth Lakes, CA
• 2009, Aspen Open, 2nd Place, Slopestyle
• 2009, ABC’s “The Superstars”, Champion
• 2009, Homecoming, 3rd Place, Slopestyle
• 2009, Hosted first ever all-female ski and snowboard Slopestyle contest, “Homecoming”
• 2008, North American Open, 2nd Place, Slopestyle
• 2008, European Open, 3rd Place, Slopestyle
• 2008, First Skier to be featured on Fuel’s Firsthand
• 2007, US Open, 3rd Place, Slopestyle
• 2007, Japan Open, 2nd Place, Slopestyle
• 2006, Action Sports Awards “Female skier of the Year”
• 2006, 4th Place X Games Halfpipe
• 2006, 3rd Place World Ski Invitational
• 2005, Gravity Games, 1st Place, Halfpipe
• 2005, World Championships, 2nd Place, Halfpipe
• 2005, X Games, 3rd Place, Halfpipe
• 2005, US Open, 2nd Place, Halfpipe
• 2003, US Open 2nd Place, Halfpipe
• 2002-2004, 1 of 2 Female Forerunners X Games, Women’s Slopestyle and Halfpipe
• 1999, 1st female to compete in the US Open
Kristi Leskinen is one of the world’s top freeskiers, constantly pushing the limits of the sport.
There was a lot of history made at the 2005 X Games. Some athletes were decorated, and others walked away bitterly sore. But in one event, Women’s Skiing Superpipe, the entire field was triumphant. It was the first year the event made its way into this marquee festival and Kristi Leskinen was at the forefront.
As a headliner, Leskinen shoulders the responsibility of bringing freeskiing – women’s freeskiing, in particular – out from under the shadow of more established action sports to receive the respect and exposure it so deserves.
It’s working. Not only is the Women’s Pipe event a staple at the X Games, but a special Fall 2005 edition of Faces magazine named her as one of the Twenty Greatest Adventure Sport Athletes of today.
Born in 1981, Leskinen grew up in Pennsylvania and seemed to master every sport she came in contact with. A typical example was the pole vault. “I learned to pole vault two weeks before Regional’s in my senior year of high school,” she grins incredulously. “But I went all the way to the State Championships and I still hold my school record. I was Western Pennsylvania breaststroke champion and played basketball. I could tell you a lot of stories like that!”
Among all the sports that would have loved to claim her, Leskinen was truly conflicted about only two: skiing and wakeboarding. Leskinen won the first mogul contest she entered and as a teen she was being groomed for the Olympics. But moguls didn’t offer the freedom she craved, so she switched allegiances and engaged in a serious flirtation with the wakeboard. The 5’8” phenom took second at the US Wakeboard Nationals and fourth at Worlds. “To tell the truth, I love both skiing and wakeboarding, but I knew I had to make a choice,” she says.
One fateful day in 2000 helped her reach a decision. While attending the US Open, Leskinen spotted some pro’s sessioning on a rail with the kind of freedom she’d always looked for. She joined in the likes of J. F. Cusson and Jonny Moseley. The latter was so impressed that he gave the 19-year-old her first pair of twin tips. That kind of encouragement and the realization that she found freeskiing ultimately to be more challenging than wakeboarding, led Leskinen to choose a career on the snow.
At her first US Open, Leskinen was the only woman doing the Big Air event and one of only a handful of participants in the women’s run on the pipe. In 2004, little more than five years later, the US Open hosted the largest women’s Superpipe contest in the world, with forty athletes vying for the championship. The exposure Leskinen lends the sport in top-selling ski videos and as a product spokesperson has played a big role in creating that excitement.
“Initially, there weren’t that many competitions for women,” she notes. “It was a catch-22: A big fan base and awesome competitors are what make an event worthwhile for organizers, but it’s hard to build a big fan base and nurture top-level competitors without the publicity of competitions.” Savvy enough to realize that videos reach a larger audience than any single contest, Leskinen films all over the world. Each year she challenges her skills and her creativity further, with the goal of laying down her best footage yet.
With her classic cheekbones and blonde tresses, Leskinen has also become something of a pin-up girl in sponsor posters and she was even named to FHM’s “100 Hottest Women of 2005” list. “I can’t knock it,” she says philosophically. “If modeling gets me noticed, that helps me promote the causes I care about. But I’m a skier first.”
Leskinen stood on the podium at both events – taking bronze at the X Games and silver at Worlds, as well as gold at the Gravity Games and silver at the US Open.
Today, she lives at Mammoth Lakes, CA. She continues to wakeboard, dedicated a few weeks of the year to riding in Orlando, Florida. “Skiing,” she says simply, “is what I really take seriously.” She explains that she wants to bring freeskiing to a whole new audience.
In early 2009, ABC brought back its hit show, “The Superstars.” Kristi, along with her partner Maksim Chmerkovisky, from Dancing with the Stars, were among the roster of athletes and celebrities competing for the title win. After 6 weeks of heart-wrenching and extreme physical competition, Kristi and Maksim went on to win the show and walked away with the trophy in-hand.
In March of this year, Kristi debuted the Kristi Leskinen Homecoming Invitational, an all-girls ski and snowboard event at Seven Springs Mountain Resort near her home in Pennsylvania. She is currently planning next year’s event.
This summer, Kristi was the on-camera talent for ASA at the S3 SuperGirl event airing on CBS, Versus and Fuel.
Photos by Kristi:
Kristi Leskinen took these pictures with her Holga camera on a recent trip to Mammoth, CA and Arizona.
“This was my first double exposure, it took me a while to get the hang of the medium format. Do you wind in right after you take each photo? Or just before? I’ll figure it out eventually. It was a photo of me going for a bike ride in AZ, coupled with my departure from PHX.”