Faces + Places: Lyndsay Strange
Lyndsay Strange always seemed destined for a career in ski coaching. Raised on the slopes of West Mountain in upstate New York where her mother worked as a ski instructor, she started racing at a young age and was coaching her peers even before finishing high school.
Moving west brought bigger mountains and bigger accomplishments, as she plied her trade in Colorado and then Utah. She carried on the momentum by coaching former US Ski Team athlete turned Team Mexico athlete, Sarah Schleper, at back-to-back Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022.
Lyndsay’s deep experience, ability to connect with young racers and advocacy for fun above all else led her to co-found Party Beach Ski Camps, where she continues to coach, freeride and share the joy of skiing with the next generation.
What’s been the highlight of your winter so far?
The highlight of my winter has been executing the first international camp offering by Party Beach Ski Camps. We travelled to Murren, Switzerland with 11 adults (“big kids”) and three coaches to ski for a week, eat cheese and enjoy the sights. It was truly magical. We nailed the weather, getting one of the only storms Europe experienced all winter at the end of January, and skied through the insane wide-open groomed runs, off-piste through cow pastures and old barns, and into the car-less town back to our hotel.
Where’s your home base?
I’ve called Salt Lake City home for the past 10 years and I have loved feeling like I could “have it all”, meaning, I could go up to the mountains, choose any number of ski areas or backcountry access points, and then go back down into the city and run to Sephora or Trader Joes on a whim. The convenience and mountain access are unmatched. I just recently made the move to the Columbia River Gorge area on the Washington side, now calling Mt. Hood my home. I have travelled to Mt. Hood every summer for over a decade to ski and run my summer freeride ski camp, Party Beach, and now I’m here year-round…. the things you do for love.
Tell us more about Party Beach. How’s that going?
Party Beach Ski Camps has been such a joy to start and grow over the years. The camp really came out of a place of wanting to create a camp that we wanted to go to. “We” being myself and my business partner, Marcus Caston, and the other inspirational ski consultants that we bring in. It came from a place of creativity and freedom, two concepts that don’t always come to mind when referring to alpine ski racing. Ski racing is pretty cut and dry, and this camp came from a sort of counter-culture rebellion against it, yet utilizing the ski racing fundamentals to go far beyond the red and blue gates. It started kind of slow, with our ski racing community not really getting it, but it has grown rapidly in the last few years as we tapped into the freeride realm and junior IFSA athletes. We enjoy imparting our ski racing backgrounds on the fat ski freeriders and giving freedom of expression to the conventional ski racers to create something incredibly special that our campers take with them for the rest of their lives.
Your Instagram bio has a quote that reads “CEO of the best skiing experience ever.” What’s up with that?
This is a quote from one of my most dedicated Party Beach campers who came to us at the age of about 45 and subsequently has brought both kids and himself to our camps ever since. He has skied in groups for years with friends, for work conferences and different destination trips, and this was his feedback to me. I was honoured. It’s kind of a joke, but I also kind of believe it. It's what I take pride in. I recently wrote in another bio saying my personality is a combination of humility and confidence that allows me to relate to and disarm people while pushing them to improve their skiing ability. This applies to my interpersonal relationships as well. I'm loveable but strong-willed and this generally affects people in a positive way. I think that explains how I am the “CEO of the best skiing experience ever.”
Tell us about your earliest memories of skiing on the east coast.
Both my mom and my brother were my coaches as I grew through the ranks of ski racing at my home mountain, West Mountain, in Queensbury, New York, not far from the Canadian border. My mom was a ski instructor so she would go to work and put me in daycare at the mountain. It was easy to ski when the mountain was a seven-minute drive from my house and it was open until 10 p.m. every night. I never missed school to ski and I probably skied more at night than during the day throughout high school.
You had an injury early in the season — tell us about the healing process. How’s it going?
I tore my ACL in July 2022 during my Party Beach camp, in front of the kids. I sailed off our proprietary “cliff drop” road gap feature off-balance in the air, coming down on my left leg first and boom … there goes my life, it seemed.
I have never been injured like this before and I did not know what was in store for me or how endlessly long the healing time really was. I had surgery in September so I always had in my head that come February I’d be back on snow. However, I didn’t realize that just because you might be able to get back on snow means nothing about what you would feel like or how weak the left leg would continue to be. I have been skiing, but of course it's not the same. I’m working really hard in physical therapy as well as at the gym with a strength trainer to come back strong and heal properly. It’s been really hard to be injured and even harder to be injured in a new town, all new surroundings, which changed my whole life and turned it upside down. I had a much different image of what things would be like as I left Salt Lake, but I am just trying to take each day at a time and roll with it, adapting to change like a duck to water as the sport of ski racing has imparted on me.
Speaking of racing, describe what it was like to coach at the Olympics.
Stepping foot into the Olympic Village and the Olympic venues was definitely a pinch-me moment. I have so much gratitude. It's not something I always dreamed of or ever thought would be a reality for me as an athlete, but it’s truly amazing where coaching has brought me. I believe my work ethic, my coaching style, my personality and the connections I have made all brought me to where I am today. Those experiences deeply affected me. Witnessing the professionalism at the highest level is something I’ll never forget and I will continue to impart to the skiers I coach.
Do you continue to coach Sarah Schleper?
I hope to continue working with Sarah and Team Mexico moving forward. I, unfortunately, missed the 2023 Alpine World Championships this year as there was a last-minute mix-up with Sarah not qualifying for the Super G. We are always talking and dreaming up plans, so our connection will not change, but one thing I have learned over the years and more recently is the old saying, “make a plan, God laughs.” As I moved away from Salt Lake I also left my job at Rowmark Ski Academy, where I had coached for 7 years. That was a big move, but I made the conscious choice to leave. I wanted to change things up and open myself up to more opportunities to ski for me and represent the brands that have supported me like Orage.
How do you juggle coaching with freeriding for yourself?
That has been a constant push and pull. I have always gravitated toward giving back and coaching. I think coaching gives me purpose and I truly want to see my athletes or pupils get better. Seeing them have their “aha moment” is so gratifying to me. Yet I do love the camera and I love skiing for me, of course. I get up early on my days off to go up to the mountain and get my turns in. It was easy to do in Utah. Now that I am in the Gorge we shall see. I hope to travel to ski for myself and for projects a lot more.
What was your best day on snow this season?
The best day on snow this season was my first time back on snow. It was in Switzerland a few days before the camp started. I decided to do a little rehab walk up through the farms along the sledding trail to a mid-mountain lodge that served hot chocolate mit rhum as my motivation. Clicking into my binding was really scary for me as I have the visual and the nauseating feeling ingrained in my soul from the day I got injured and how gross and excruciating it was to try to click back in after my fall. So, this was big. I ripped skins, flipped my bindings around and clicked in. As I slid down the fairly flat cat track I was elated. I was truly happy. A feeling I hadn’t really felt in a while. I had to pinch myself as my first sliding turns were made beneath the Eiger with a picture book town awaiting my return. That trip was magical.
What does skiing mean to you?
Skiing has always meant freedom to me. I think this is why me and Marcus came together to start Party Beach. Even in the rigid world of ski racing I always just had fun with it. The joy I feel from sliding on snow on a beautiful mountain is the best feeling in the world. I will always come back to it. I feel so grateful to even be able to feel that. And it all comes back to my mom for giving that to me when I was just a toddler.
What’s in the future for Lyndsay Strange?
The future is definitely more skiing in amazing places and imparting joy on those around me. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.
What are your go-to pieces from Orage?
I am absolutely loving the colourways this season. The caramel brown with the lavender is just (kissing sound) bellissima, or should I say, tres belle. The MTN-X Cliff Bib is a go-to, no question. They just fit right, and hit at the perfect place with the stretch material and bib pocket. I am also happy to have a thinner shell to take into the backcountry or layer on a resort day with the Alpina light jacket, and the White Cap down parka is so cozy, it got me through the cold days in Switzerland this year.
What most do you like about the Orage outerwear and layers collections this season?
I love the colors and my ability to mix and match them. I have always loved the design style of Orage and that is why I gravitated toward Orage years ago. I remember putting on one of the jackets and feeling like it was tailored for me with the perfect fit around my shoulders and arms in particular. I really appreciate the style and function of my Orage pieces. Looking cute is pretty important to me while also staying warm and dry. I’ve found that balance with Orage.