Athlete Spotlight: Callan Chythlook-Sifsof
Raised in Bristol Bay, AK, out in what Alaskans call the ''bush''—some 400 miles from Anchorage and accessible only by air or boat—Callan Chythlook-Sifsof landed on the snowboardcross scene in 2007 by winning the Visa U.S. Snowboardcross Championships and taking third in the first World Cup of her career. After improving year by year, an injury took Chythlook-Sifsof out for the 2009 season, but she was determined to make it to Vancouver. She trained in Park City for months before returning to the World Cup circuit in 2010 and landed a spot on the 2010 Olympic team, becoming the first native Alaskan to do so. To see what makes Callan so unique, read on.
Name: Callan Chythlook-Sifsof
Hometown: Girdwood, Alaska
Current Location: Salt Lake City, UT
School: Westminster College
How/when did you decide you wanted to compete: When I was 13 I had just moved from an indigenous villiage on the west coast of Alaska to a ski resort just outside of Anchorage, it was the first time I was exposed to the outside ski and snowboard world which was very different than my brother and I hiking mountains in our village.
Biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Getting the X Games Silver medal last year felt so incredible.
Goals for next season: I had the best season of my life last year, I can't wait to get back on snow next season and continue where I left off.
Favorite snow destination: Alaska will always be the pinnacle for me. Not only is it where I come from but there's no describing the combo of beauty, mountains and powder.
Favorite non-snow destination: Hawaii has always been a favorite simply because there's always good airline deals from Alaska and it has been my family's get away from the Arctic cold.
If you weren't a professional athlete what would you be: I would have continued commercial fishing with my family in Alaska every summer. But hopefully I would be making use of my love of the outdoors in some way. Journalism and writing have always been interests. Wilderness guide, moose whisperer and astronaut are all professions I've thought about.
Time you've been most scared in your life: In 2007 I overshot a jump by nearly 20 feet straight to my butt, the seconds I had in the air to contemplate the situation were not fun... but in the end I just chipped my tail bone a little and ended up 4th in that World Cup!
What you do you when you are not training or competing: I skateboard a lot and try to be outdoors doing fun things as much as possible.
Biggest vice: Coffee and chocolate milk
Biggest pet peeve: People who have loud phone conversations in a public place.
Advice to others who want to follow in your footsteps: For me, the choice to follow this path of being an Olympic snowboarder was a big risk. There were all kinds of unknowns and it took seizing each and every opportunity that came my way. If I were to look back and give myself advise, it would be to always take a chance at something your passionate about.