Going the distance

Steph Jagger and Greg Hill met while skiing in Argentina last summer. Courtesy photo

[Editor's Note: When we heard about Stephanie Jagger's attempt to break the current Guinness World Record for most vertical feet skied (using chairlifts) in a year we thought there was no better person to interview Jagger than Greg Hill, who climbed and skied two million vertical feet (not using chairlifts) in 2010. Here is Hill's interview with Jagger, who finished her mission a few weeks ago.]

Whistler-based skier Stephanie Jagger didn't exactly set out to break a Guinness World Record for most vertical feet descended on skis in a calendar year, but when she realized the goal was within reach, she decided to go for it. She started her mission on July 18, 2010 in Portillo, Chile. Since then, she's skied in nine countries at 45 different ski resorts, slept on 65 couches, beds or floors and skied over 161 days. On May 6, she broke the current Guinness record by logging 4,161,823 feet downhill.

ESPN.com: How did you document your vertical and how will Guinness verify your claim?
Stephanie Jagger: I logged every day on a spreadsheet with lift tickets to match, with people's references to back up my claim. I didn't realize I was going to go for the record, and then I looked it up and started to go for it. Ultimately, I know what I have done and I feel good about it. The title is not the important thing -- it's the journey and the process that is more important to me.

What was your biggest day?
I skied 63,923 feet at Jackson Hole. I was not intending to set a personal record or have the biggest day but you are just skiing and partway through the day I looked at my watch and if I kept going hard, I knew I could have a pretty big day. It was really good skiing.

You skied in Canada, the U.S., Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Japan, France, Italy and Switzerland. Where was the best spot?
The Matterhorn [in Switzerland] was one of the most striking features to be skiing beside. It's a tie between that and Ushuaia, [Argentina] just because of the pure location, it being the southernmost city in the world.

You rode a lot of chairlifts. What was the sketchiest, craziest lift?
The nutcrackers in New Zealand are very bizarre. You wonder, 'Is my thumb going to get caught and am I going to lose it in that contraption?' Apparently one person got scalped by this. It's a pretty rugged piece of equipment.

What was the worst moment during your travels?
My worst could also be combined with my funniest. In Japan, we skied in the backcountry and I fell and lost one of my skis, which meant I had to ski out on one ski. You have to laugh at yourself, skiing down on one ski. Your friends are laughing at you, but you're relieved because everything is okay. There was a ton of ridiculous stuff in Japan: the weird translations, the things you end up eating. The remaining ski was turned into a sake shot-ski.

What was it like when you finally finished?
On April 30, I hit 4 million feet, and that for me was a bigger and more special day than the Guinness day. My family was there and they had cowbells for me when I crossed the fake "line." The day I officially set the record, May 6, was totally foggy. I couldn't see in front of me. It was a small day and I blindly skied through it alone.