Katrina DeVore has spent almost all of her 25 years living in Aspen, and much of that time has been on skis.
Born at Aspen Valley Hospital, DeVore’s parents had her on sticks before she was 2 years old, guiding her down the mountain between their legs. She was enrolled in the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club as soon as she was old enough.
Other than heading off to college in the East, DeVore has never really ventured out of her mountain hamlet other than for freestyle competitions and two stints living abroad when she was little. Ironically, both of those were in Aspen’s sisters cities: Shimukappu, Japan when she was in pre-school and sixth grade in Chamonix, France. As a child, she also managed to make an appearance in the local cult classic ski film, “Aspen Extreme.”
Sporting bright colored Strafe Outerwear ski gear, one of her sponsors, DeVore can usually be found on either Ajax or Aspen Highlands tearing down the hill. Easy to smile with a big dimple on her left cheek, she is well known both on and off the mountain.
As with most ski bums trying to scrape by, DeVore holds down three different jobs — working as a ski instructor at Buttermilk during peak season, checking coats at Belly Up and working as a window washer. She credits her rock climbing skills to the latter job, saying she never truly understood the phrase “getting gripped” until working high above the ground while cleaning glass.
However, unlike outsiders, DeVore has the luxury of living at home with her mom and older brother near Gondola Plaza. She moved out for a short while and got her own place, and then realized there was no reason considering she had an empty bedroom nearby.
“I grew up here, but I can’t really afford to live here,” she lamented.
DeVore spent her high school and college years playing ice hockey, although she always managed to find time to ski. She returned to Aspen after college, and has thrown herself full bore into skiing, competing in big-mountain freeskiing competitions.
“I’m making up for lost time,” she said.
This season she plans to compete in four competitions, striving to earn points to ultimately take part in the Freeride World Tour, where currently there are only 12 women competing. DeVore has several sponsors, including local businesses, such as Strafe and the Aspen Club and Spa, that help with gear and defraying the costs associated with competing.
Although podium finishers can potentially take home a big paycheck, DeVore mostly enjoys the travel and the interesting people she meets while on the road.
“Our parents did it to us,” DeVore said when speaking of herself and her older brother, Nick, and how they’ve dedicated their lives to skiing. She explained that her father was a National Geographic photographer who drove a hearse as his primary vehicle and wore purple cowboy boots, while her mother has always been involved in the local nonprofit community.
DeVore credits Nick, a famed telemark skier, as her biggest role model and said that he is her favorite person in the world. This is despite the fact that “he kinda beat me up and was kinda mean when we were little,” she said.
Even at her young age, DeVore already has had eight major surgeries, and her right leg is almost an inch longer than her left due to a growth plate injury. Her family has developed such a reputation that Aspen Orthopaedic Associates asked them to do a radio commercial for KSPN extolling the virtues of their rehab services.
In addition to her own physical injuries, DeVore also has been witness to avalanche tragedies in recent years. She was skiing with local resident Adam Dennis when he was killed in an avalanche in Maroon Bowl in the spring of 2011. A few weeks later, her brother was caught up in a slide that broke his femur. And in February of this year, her friend Jim Jack, former president of the International Freeskiers Association, died in the avalanche at Stevens Pass, Wash. DeVore acknowledged the dangers that are inherent in the sport.
“You really assess the risks and be as humble as you can when doing it,” she said, adding in the same breath, “you keep skiing because you love it.”
One day soon, perhaps as early as the end of this season, DeVore plans to spend time away from Aspen and explore the rest of the world. Wherever she lands, she said she knows it will be another mountain town with the same vibe, maybe a place like Whistler, British Columbia. However, she ultimately hopes to return to Aspen and raise a family here, with the goal of starting an herbal products business.
“It’s so wonderful, everyone knows who you are, and they care about you, and it’s such a strong community,” she said.