Zala Smalls, She Does It All


Photo taken by Rhianna Borderick

Zala Smalls skis down through the powder on Aspen Mountain

Zala Smalls’s alarm blares at 7 am on a bright and snowy Saturday morning. The temperatures are frigid but the snow is soft and powdery. As she hits snooze, Smalls rolls out of bed, picks up her ski clothes, and smiles as she prepares for the full day of skiing ahead.

Skiing is a daily activity for Zala Smalls, an Aspen High School athlete who participates in both big mountain club skiing and competes on the high school alpine team. Smalls has been skiing since the age of 2, starting with AVSC at 7, and big mountain during the 2021/22 season. Smalls got her start early in the sport she loves and has always had a support system within her family and teams.

“I’d say my parents were a big reason for getting me into skiing because they both have very extensive skiing backgrounds, more specifically in ski racing. They were both professional ski racers so that really started it off for me,” Smalls said.

Along with her parents, her influence and support come from the high school’s head coach for the alpine team, Jared Thompson. He has known Smalls for over 12 years and has coached her for the last two.

“Zala is working hard to be committed to both the ski team and the big mountain team. It’s nice to see that she is at a high level of commitment. I’ve seen when others attempt to do both and they’re unable to really commit. She attends practice often and is a good leader. She’s very happy and is really easy to be around,” Thompson said.

Juggling both ski teams, the season has seemed to speed by for Smalls. She has been busy with races and a few big mountain comps all over Colorado. With the end of the racing season coming to a close, Smalls reflected on the highlights of her own season as well as the team’s.

“The high school season has been going really well for me. It’s been super fun to travel to all these races and we have a great team with a ton of athletes, both club and not, that are all performing really well. I’ve also individually been getting fairly decent results. I managed to qualify for state champs, which was February 17th and 18th. For big mountain, I ended up 9th at the Telluride National which was the best of all the AVSC girls and I placed 6th at the Aspen National,” Smalls said.

Smalls overall has had a great ski season and has loved every minute. However, skiing isn’t all she does. Smalls is also an avid mountain biker, loves rock climbing, and is constantly in the company of her friends.

“I think it’s important to not only focus on one thing you love. Yes, skiing is a huge passion of mine and a big part of my life, but I love to do so many other things, especially with my friends and family,” Smalls said.