Sage’s Story: From Dishwasher To Skiing IconOctober 11, 2016
Originally published on Tetongravity.com on September, 29 2016. See it here.
I knew a thing or two about Sage Cattabriga-Alosa before I interviewed him for this story. He’s 36 years old and ski obsessed. He’s been in 18 TGR films over the last 15 years. he has crazy hair. He has this revered, smooth, and thought-out style that’s won him Powder’s “Line of the Year” once and “Skier of the Year” three times. Based on his light design segment in Almost Ablaze, I knew that he’s driven by creativity. He’s a big mountain skiing icon and veteran AK ripper. He sees lines that nobody else can see, and watching him ski them at the TGR premieres is enough to make you jump out of your seat and cheer (loudly) for the love of skiing.
But here’s the rest of the story.
Sage’s parents split when he was young and he spent winters with his mom in Alta, Wyoming. Just about anyone will tell you the best thing about Alta is Grand Targhee, a little ski resort just a few miles away, known for measuring its new snow in feet, not inches. But growing up, Sage wanted to be a ski racer and powder wasn’t a part of his program. “Grand Targhee is a powder mountain that was horrible for ski racing and my dreams of becoming a world cup ski racer were pretty far off,” he said. “But that’s ok because I started skiing powder and realized it was way more fun.”
Sage moved to Oregon after high school and hit it off with pro skier Chris Collins. Collins suggested that Utah would be a great place for Sage to cut his teeth in the skiing game, so he quit college, moved to the Wasatch, and started washing dishes at The Peruvian—skiing with the pros pretty much daily.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Sage said. We all know it took more than that but Sage isn’t the type of guy to be claiming things.
“I wasn’t a pro, I was basically just a grom that loved to ski. The deal with those guys was that if you helped build the jump you could hit it so I just spent a lot of time building jumps. That’s how I caught the eye of the TGR crew.”
TGR was filming with Chris Collins and the rest of the Wasatch-based pros at Pyramid Gap one day and Sage showed up to help build the jump. When he got his chance to hit it, he threw this massive double front flip and TGR’s founders, Todd and Steve Jones, realized just how bad ass he was. The trick landed him his first part in a TGR movie, Mind the Addiction.
“It still took two more movies for me to really feel like I was part of the crew,” Sage said,“ and a good five years before I was comfortable saying I was a pro skier.”
Now Sage is not only a pro, but he’s become a leader and core member on the TGR roster. He’s not your traditional type of leader who’s going to get out a map and tell the team where and what to ski that day (although he could do that if he had to).
He’s the kind of leader that will be there for you when you aren’t feeling confident or is there to just insert a little nugget of wisdom when you’re feeling lost. He’s also really good at predicting and preventing boondoggles.
“We call him the wizard, the master of slough management,” fellow pro skier Angel Collinson said. “He is so good at seeing how everything is going to play out up there.”
When I asked him if he was Angel Collinson’s mentor, he said no. He told me everyone helps each other out up there, it’s a team effort.
“What? He said that?” Angel asked when I got her on the line. “No. He is very much my mentor. That’s so Sage to have that type of humility.” Not only is he her mentor, but he’s the person that made her want to be a big mountain skier in the first place.
“He was my idol and my favorite athlete to watch growing up,” Angel said. “It’s been crazy maturing into a being a big mountain skier myself and having him go from my idol to my mentor and friend. I’ve never met anyone that has such grace both in the way he skis and they way he conducts himself. And the more I get to know him the more I’m inspired by him, and that’s the coolest thing ever. ”
But there is way more to Sage than Fantasy Camp.
Sage met Annie at his eighth year at Burning Man. She was camping in his camp, wearing a loincloth, and really knew her way around a hoola hoop. “There was just this electricity between us that I’ve never felt before,” he told me. “I’d never had anyone look at me the way she looked at me.”
The two eventually got together and were married in 2014. According to Sage, “she’s amazing.”
They will occasionally bike and ski together, but mostly it’s creativity that brings them together. “We complement each other really well when we work together on creative projects,” Sage said. Whether that’s gardening, collaborating on visual art projects, or music mixes, their artistic nature connects them. (Once, they started a business making miniature hats.) Annie designs clothes—women’s knitwear made for movement but eventually they want to turn their three acres of land in Bend, Oregon, into a flower farm.
In April, Annie gave birth to twins.
Sage, Annie, Loey, and Zara. Photo courtesy of Sage and Annie.
Earlier this spring, Sage became a dad while he was at TGR’s Fantasy Camp in Alaska. Well, he almost did anyway. He got the call from Annie and packed his things. Her water broke and it was time to catch the next plane and get out of AK. Sage made it home in time to witness the birth of his daughters, Loey and Zara.
Now he’s adjusting to life with two five-month-old baby girls. “It’s full on with twins,” he told me. “But it’s really rad to see these adorable smiling faces looking up at me, and it’s so far made all the challenging times worth it.”
The girls already look a lot like their dad. Photo courtesy of Sage, Annie, and TGR’s Photoshop wizard Ryan Dee.
He goes on to tell me that they are starting to develop their own little personalities. Zara has this sly little smirk and Loey is constantly looking at the world with these curious wide eyes. “I’ve had to put my personal stuff on the backburner but that’s fine, soon it will be so rewarding because I’ll get to take these girls on adventures.” I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s excited for Sage and his girls to be shredding at Mt. Bachelor.
It’s a common perception that once a pro athlete has a family, they’re going to change their game, but falling off the wagon is not part of Sage’s plan.
“Being a pro skier is my livelihood, and I’m going to continue to tell the story of what I’m doing, and maybe even help other people tell their stories. I want to continue this mentorship role, and there are still endless goals and opportunities for me out there.”
“Sage is a legacy,” Angel told me. “He’s a creative and a skier through and through and will always be that. We have all these projections of how people’s paths are supposed to go, and that once they have kids they won’t be able to ski anymore. But for Sage anything could happen and he is capable of doing anything he wants to do.”
When I asked Sage what he still wants to do that he hasn’t done yet, his answer was everything.
“I have endless mountain goals, there is always some new piece of terrain that’s like, ‘whoa look at that, that looks like a cool experience.’” He’s also been working with TGR on his own film idea. “I’ve been working on creating a film piece that would showcase and tell a story about skiing and the connection of humans and our cycle.” He told me. “One really great thing about TGR is they allow us to bring ideas to the table, and then they help us figure out how to make them happen.”
And just like that, I heard the baby monitor in the background and he had to bounce. I was left with a smile on my face and a whole new perception of what it’s like to manifest your dreams.