meet truck ambassador Nikki Champion

Snap Shot: Engineer, snow scientist, Utah Avalanche Forecaster, alpine guide, lover of tacos -- and, oh yeah, big fan of TRUCK Gloves:)

Tell us a bit about your journey into the field of snow science and forecasting?

My journey into snow science and forecasting was generally driven by a love of skiing. I grew up ski racing, and when the time came, I moved out to Colorado to study engineering. I spent a few years at Colorado School of Mines before ultimately transferring to Montana State University. There, I was connected with a grad student doing research in snow science, where I discovered how closely related snow science was to engineering. I ended up working as a field partner (aka digging a ton of pits...), and then conducting my own research within both the earth science and engineering snow science programs, ultimately landing myself in the subzero science and engineering lab following graduation. During this time, I was also working as a mountain guide during the summers and as an avalanche educator and ski guide during the winters. Basically, I was spending about 11 months a year on snow. Following my time working in the subzero science and engineering lab, I landed an internship up in the Chugach, working with all the phenomenal women at the time, and then finally secured the gig down at the UAC.

Aside from spending time with your hands in the snow, what are a couple other top ambitions and/or life projects of yours?

While not particularly exciting, a few of my top ambitions or life goals are to actually spend a bit more time at home. I've been with the UAC for 5 seasons now. And, during that time, I have fully relocated to Washington to work as a mountain guide in the summers. This upcoming summer, I'll be facilitating a Denali program in May. But after that, I'm hoping to spend more time in Utah withi intetions of planting a garden, riding my mountain bike, and spending a little more time out of my softshell pants;)

Tell us about one of your greatest accomplishments as well as one of your biggest challenges.

This one feels like quite a loaded question. I do feel both honored and accomplished to have landed at the Utah Avalanche Center. When I was hired in 2019, it felt more like achieving an end-goal in avalanche center employment rather than simply a place where I would start my career. Upon being hired, I was initially the youngest forecaster in North America. Additionally, I was a woman, which is somewhat rare in this industry. I consider it a significant accomplishment to have attained this role and position. But, it's also a challenge to overcome being a female and a female mentor in this industry.

I was fortunate to have numerous amazing male mentors during my time in Montana and Washington, but I found that I had to actively seek out female mentorship. Finding a mentor is something challenging and complex, not something that simply falls into your lap as often depicted. It's a give-and-take process. I was aware that the Chugach had an amazing team of women on their forecasting staff, which was a major reason I sought the internship. Since then, I have been able to step into roles as a mentor in both the snow science and guiding worlds, working as a lead guide and supervisor at my guide service.

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