Nina Silitch is a Paradis Sport ambassador who competes in a sport that may be unfamiliar to many Americans. Her sport is SkiMo (or ski mountaineering) and it involves hiking up a steep alpine course, often several thousand vertical feet (grueling!) on foot and on touring skis with climbing skins. Once they reach the summit, skiers then rip off the skins, lock in their bindings and race downhill (exhilarating!) “At the top there are people with cowbells cheering,” Nina says. “It is essentially the old way of skiing—before chairlifts—when you’d work for your turns.”
Nina grew up on the slopes of New England as an alpine and Nordic racer at Holderness School and as a member of the Dartmouth College Ski Team and Mountaineering Club. In 2001, she moved to Chamonix, the French alpine town at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. During her 12 years there, Nina began entering skimo competitions and discovered she had the endurance, grit, and skiing chops to compete at the highest level. She went on to represent the US in World Cup competitions and is still the first and only North American to win two World Cup gold medals in this sport.
After Chamonix, Nina spent time in Park City, UT, where she continued training, competing and helping grow the sport of skimo in the US. In 2017 she returned to New England where she is now the Chair of the Art Department and the Nordic skiing and mountain biking coach at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. Nina and her husband Michael Silitch have just created a skimo program for adults and kids 12 and older at the Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme, NH. If you live in the Upper Valley and are interested in trying this fun and challenging sport, see the Ford Sayre Memorial Ski Council’s website.
This is an exciting time for Nina and for the sport of skimo. On July 20, 2021 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously approved adding Ski Mountaineering to the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics. To learn more about skimo or to sign up for races in the US, check out the US SkiMo Association.
Paradis Sport is beyond excited to partner with Nina to celebrate skimo, a great way to get outside, stay active, and enjoy winter!