W STUDIO MEMBERS

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25. Dec, 2017 Written by: Elan
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For nearly 15 years, Elan has assembled a team of talented women from around the globe who lend their expertise to create and develop Elan’s Women’s ski models. Called the “W Studio,” this group, lead by Melanja Šober, Head of Product Management, contributes from ski concept to construction. The following W Studio Team members share their stories, insights and passions about skiing and ski design.

 


MELANJA ŠOBER
Melanja grew a stone’s throw from the World Cup slope of Maribor in Slovenia. As avid skiers, her parents introduced her to skiing at age 3. Since her home ski area was Maribor, known for ski racing, she was inspired as a six-year-old girl to race, which she did for many years as an athlete and ambassador for Elan. After racing, Melanja traveled the world working at multiple ski resorts. Seven years ago she switched focus from traveling and skiing towards developing products and building skis. She started working for Elan as a junior product manager for the women’s line, and was then offered a promotion. Today she runs the product management department, with the responsibility for overall strategic and product line management, cooridinating Elan’s product roadmap and product-related initiatives. She is the founding member of the W Studio contributing her ideas from the very beginning a decade and a half ago.

 

JULIETTE WILLMANN
Juliette was born in the south of France in Marseille and grew up south of the Alps in Barcelonnette. Juliette calls Praloup her home ski area and started skiing at 2.5 years old with her parents. Her father is a ski coach, currently coaching the women’s French Alpine Ski team, while her mother is a ski instructor in Barcelonnette. Juliette ski raced for 10 years, spending 2 years racing FIS. Four years ago, at the age of 17, Juliette entered her first freeride contest and in 2015, she took her “first start” on the Freeride World Qualifier. The very next year she finished second on the European Freeride World Qualifier tour. Recovering from a knee injury, she took a break from the Freeride tour, but still promotes her sponsors including Elan, Mammut, Uvex, Praloup and Crosscall. She is currently enrolled in the University of Annecy, finishing her last year of a Marketing and Communication degree.

 

KRISTA CRABTREE
Krista grew up in the White Mountains and Lakes Region of New Hampshire, skiing every winter weekend and waterskiing, playing tennis and hiking all summer. Since her parents raced in the masters ski race circuit, it was natural for her to race as well. At Bates College, she was a member of the Division I ski race team and also coached junior racers. After college, Krista took a coaching job at Ski Club Vail in Colorado and also taught at the Vail ski academy. She later attended graduate school at the University of Colorado and received her MA degree in creative writing. At that time, she coached ski racing and received an internship at SKI Magazine. The internship lead to a full-time job as an editor, where she covered fashion, gear and instruction and also ran the SKI Magazine Women’s Ski Test. In 2006, Krista launched a freelance career, which included creating a women’s ski testing clinic in Vail called She Skis and directing the women’s program at Eldora Mountain Resort. She ran several ski tests and published articles in multiple magazines on several websites. She currently coaches for Vail’s Her Turn women’s ski camps and organizes Skadi Vail, the largest women’s consumer ski demo event in the U.S. (Elan is a participant) as well as directing Eldora’s women’s program.

 

ANA PIŠOT
Ana was born in Koper, on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia. Her father, Rado Pišot, is an examiner for ski instructors, and wrote a book called “Skiing is Game” with Ron Kipp, Alpine Sports Education Manager for the U.S. Ski Team. Ana’s mom was a ski racer, and in fact her parents met during their instructor exam. Ana first skied at age 2 in Forni di Sopra, Italy. At an early age, Ana became a ski instructor at the highest level and has taught in Italy, Austria, Australia and Slovenia. She conducted research with her mother about how different cultures are connected with skiing. Ana joined the W Studio team after meeting Melanja Šober, Head of Elan’s Product Management, at Interski in Serbia, where Ana’s father was one of the organizers.

 

MJ CARROLL
MJ grew up in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, in Durango. She learned how toski on a rope tow two blocks from her house. This local hill called Chapman had night skiing, and MJ skied often with her father and developed a deep passion for freeskiing. MJ attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she studied Journalism. After working for a PR firm in Durango, she moved to Jackson Hole, WY, where she advanced her backcountry skills in the Tetons. She worked with Verde PR and became account manager for some ski companies. Currently, MJ works as a freelance marketing and PR consultant in the outdoor and ski industry. Since December 2016, she has been working with Elan Skis on both the PR side and for the W Studio women’s program.

 

ŽANA VLAISAVLJEVIČ
Žana was born in Maribor, Slovenia. She lived 10 minutes away from a small ski area and started skiing when she was 3 with her dad, who was an avid recreational skier. When Jana was 6, her father, a diplomat, moved the family to London. It was there that Žana developed a passion for tennis. When she moved back to Slovenia, it was still part of Yugoslavia. She competed there and started to play in European tennis tournaments, even traveling to the U.S. to play in the Orange Bowl, an international tournament for juniors where she competed against Anna Kournikova. Žana was recruited to Texas Tech on a full tennis scholarship. Her sophomore year, however, she transferred on a full scholarship to UCLA. She retired after a back injury, but finished UCLA and went on to USC to get her Masters in Strategic PR. Now she owns an advertising agency with her husband. They have two daughters: Ela, who is passionate about volleyball, and Mila, who loves ski racing.

 

 

SONNIA HÖFFKEN
Sonnia was born and raised in Munich, a city where most kids grow up skiing. After attending university, Sonnia started woking in PR and advertising, and spent all her free time in the French Alps - but something was always missing: more skiing! So, she decided to take “just one winter season” in Val d´Isère, to check this box before entering “real life”. The best thing Sonnia ever did and ever since, was spending her winters in the French and Swiss Alps. In 2002, Sonnia began intensive yoga teacher training. In 2003, she founded her yoga company “Call-a-Yogi” in Munich. Then, in 2006, Sonnia combined skiing & yoga and established a program called “SkiYo – feel the flow!”. Sonnia not only combines her two biggest passions, skiing and yoga, but also is constantly studying sports, physiology, psychology, health and recreation. In 2009 Sonnia became a member of the Elan “family” – happily riding and promoting Elan skis to her broad target group of customers in the Alps.

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