Freeskier Grete Eliassen tells us about rituals, Bambi, relaxation, haunted houses and her soft spot for quiet intellectual types.
Do you have a weakness for nerds?
[Laughs] How do you know me so well and this is just the first question? I am a closet nerd, but not too many people see that side of me unless they're in a class with me at the university. I love guys who can keep up and hold an intellectual conversation. I wake up watching CNN or another news station, and go to bed watching it. So, yes, I have that weakness. They also help me with my studying.
Which is your favorite Harry Potter book, and why?
I would say the seventh one [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] was my favorite, just because finishing that series was such an accomplishment for me and it really clears everything up. Reading the Harry Potter series is an emotional experience. Once you reach Deathly Hallows, you become filled with joy and sadness because you finally finish it, but then when it's done, Harry is not a part of your life anymore – you really get connected to the guy.
Is there a color you couldn’t handle wearing?
I would say orange. In the summertime, when I'm tanned, I can pull it off, but in winter when I'm paler than snow, it just makes me miss the sun and my summer tan.
Would you ski naked for charity?
If the price were right, I would ski down a mountain naked, but only my backside could be documented!
What’s your favorite Norwegian cooking recipe?
Vaffler! I love Norwegian waffles. There is nothing better.
'Haunted houses are my favourite pastime. I can’t think of anything that is more fun than scaring the crap out of yourself over and over again.'
You’ve been pictured with drummer ?uestlove of the Roots – how did that come about?
I attended this event in Washington DC with the Women's Sports Foundation called the Tween Summit. Then we took the train up to New York City the next day, and while I was waiting to get on the train I saw ?uestlove walk by – and he had a comb in his afro – and I was like, "Oh my god, the Roots are here!" So, I asked to take a photo with him and that was that.
Which of their songs can you recommend?
The first song I ever heard from the Roots is also my favorite: The Seed 2.0 featuring Cody Chesnutt.
What’s your favorite rock ’n’ roll band?
As of right now, I have no rock ’n’ roll in my iTunes, actually, but I went to a Skid Row and Quiet Riot concert once where I was at the front and in the center. It made me listen to rock for a solid week. It was so great! I like ’80s rock the most.
So, what track in your music collection has the most counts at the moment?
Okay, I am going to look and be honest. [Pause, while Grete consults her iPod.] Number one is Night and Day by Lloyd – 154 counts! What can I say? I am an R&B softie. My computer deleted all my music the other day, so it's kind of messed up, but kind of correct!
Was Fire And Ice [the 1980s cult German skiing film with Suzy Chaffee] a big influence on you as a freeskier?
I’ve actually never seen it before… [Grete breaks off to watch a clip on YouTube.] Wow! Now, I understand where I'm coming from. Huuuuuge influence! But I didn't even realise it. Suzy Chaffee is my hero, though, for sure!
Have you heard of the film Mount St Elias? It’s about the longest-ever ski descent and it sounds a bit like your name!
What? There is a mountain named Elias, and a saint named Elias, and a film named Elias? Wow, this the best interview I have ever had. I think this means I am related to a mountain and a saint. I need to learn more about this mountain!
You like ghost-hunting, don’t you? Ever found yourself in a real haunted house?
Yes – well, at least, I think so. Haunted houses are my favorite pastime. I can’t think of anything that is more fun than scaring the crap out of yourself over and over again and not having to worry about getting hurt.
What are your three tips for absolute relaxation?
One: take a bath – baths are my favorite. Two: stay home and do nothing all day. Three: lay on the dock at your favorite lake and just tan!
What’s the most danger you’ve ever been in?
Back when I was 17, I did my first road gap. We had a snowmobile towed in and I ended up jumping over a moving double-decker semi truck and a guard rail. It was one of the craziest and stupidest moments of my life, but I did it because I am Grete and that's what I do!
Ever wish you had raven-black hair?
I have actually never even dyed my hair black before. I don't think it would work with my skin. It would be cool to have hair like Kelis or Rihanna, just for one day.
'My mom and dad are the best skiing parents - drove me to every race and contest without one complaint. They just love to ski too.'
Are your parents great skiers themselves?
Yes, they are. My mom taught me the spread-eagle which I am so well known for. My dad taught me how to hike mountains and ski down them. He actually cut down a bunch of trees this summer on his favorite mountain to make himself a tree run for this winter in Norway. They are the best skiing parents - drove me to every race and contest without one complaint. They just love to ski too.
Do you have a ritual before hitting the slope at a contest or a video shoot?
I always like to listen to my music. I like to be in a happy mood because then I have a lot of fun skiing and I always ski better as well. So, don't touch my radio!
Which photographer would you like to be portrayed by one day?
Lauren and Abby Ross, those sisters are amazing! Their perspectives are unreal, and it’s so refreshing.
Who could you watch 24/7 because they are just mesmerizing?
Great question! I was a sucker for Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian Take Miami [reality show on entertainment channel E!].
Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
Ariel, the Little Mermaid and Bambi! [Laughs]
Keep up with Grete’s latest plans and activities at greteeliassen.com