Local Freeskier Michelle Parker Kicks Series Off on November 30th.
Humility and Impact
Chances are, if you have been around Tahoe for any length of time over the past 18 years, you have at least heard of the Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker series in North Lake Tahoe. In this, its 18th year of outdoor sports story and community building, the Alpenglow Winter Speaker series has become a beacon of mountain community life and all the ideas and passions that are right about building a life in the mountains.
Yet, as a person who enjoys travel and the outdoors as much as the next person, I have only connected with this event this year. This year, I was allowed to meet with Brendan Madigan and Michelle Parker (Guest speaker at this year’s event) for a quick interview regarding the 18th year of the Winter speaker series and discuss the growth plans and vision behind this successful event. I walked away with an appreciation for Brendan’s authentic passion and humbleness toward the event’s success. The Winter Speaker series’s impact on local non-profits in the region is second only to the event’s impact on the people involved and the community enriched by the continual success of this North Tahoe event.
The Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series is an eagerly anticipated winter tradition for North Tahoe’s adventure community. With over 5,000 attendees annually, the 18-year-old Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series (WSS) has become one of the premier North American forums for adventure storytelling and community fundraising.
The Origins and the Cause
The Winter Speaker series was born from an organic passion for the local outdoors, and Brendan and his outdoor community would regularly meet up for dinner and share stories of their adventures in the Sierra Nevada and around the world as they chased what was real, thrilling and beautiful in the mountain life they had chosen to live.
“The entire concept of the Winter Speaker series started as a diner and a movie idea with friends at a local establishment,” says Brendan “We probably kept that format for the first ten years, and as guests continued to show up and pack out venues it became obvious that there was an opportunity for an organic model of growth and a potential way to make a local impact through donations.”
A self-proclaimed Ski bum turned businessman, Brendan seems to be the type of business person who has been able to keep the one thing the main thing. “The community of passionate mountain enthusiasts coming together and inspiring each other to enjoy their mountain lifestyle to the fullest. When he met Dave Nettle for the first time, Dave had already been giving PowerPoint slide show events at local hotspots in Tahoe. Dave, still his partner today, was well known as a storyteller and shared a world that included many different storytelling, passionate outdoor people, just looking for ways to connect with the community.
Brendan’s approach to Life might be best set up In an article published in September 2023 by Darn Tough “He worked to ski, and learned from his co-workers to ski before work. What sets Brendan apart is a combination of thoughtful, compassionate focus on the greater good with the sort of drive it takes to skin thousands of feet up a mountain before clocking in to work the floor all day.”
Alpenglow Sports Announces the 18th Annual Winter Speaker Series Lineup.
Local Freeskier Michelle Parker Kicks Series Off on November 30th.
Alpenglow Sports is excited to announce the lineup of the 2023-24 Winter Speaker Series, presented by Tahoe Mountain Realty. From November 30th through March 7th, the Tahoe City retailer and community event provider will welcome five world-famous athletes to Palisades Tahoe’s Olympic Village Events Center for an intimate evening of inspirational tales of mountain adventure. Since 2005, the event has grown into one of the premier North American forums for adventure storytelling, mountain culture, and holistic community fundraising. Each year, the Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series welcomes over 3,000 in-person and 50,000 online attendees. This year, the series will partner with Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes Recreation to live-stream the November and January shows at The Village Lodge Mammoth to bring together mountain communities, kick off the winter season, celebrate inspiring athletes, and support important causes.
Past speakers of the Winter Speaker Series include Lynn Hill, Hillaree Nelson, Tommy Caldwell, Emily Harrington, Cody Townsend, Alex Honnold, Adrian Ballinger, and Glen Plake. Every show is free to the public, and all ages are encouraged to attend. No registration is required; doors open at 6pm, and each show begins shortly after 7pm.
Attendees can join in person or stream online using Alpenglow’s YouTube channel. Each speaker is paired with a local non-profit organization and through two separate giveaways (one in person, one online), bar sales, and the anonymous Donor Party, each show is responsible for raising nearly $75,000. To date, the 18-year-old Winter Speaker Series has raised over $1.35 million dollars for local Tahoe area non-profits organizations. The non-profit beneficiaries of the 2023-24 season are (in order): the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association (TAMBA), The Send It Foundation, The Courage Project, The Scotty Lapp Foundation, and Slow Food Tahoe.
Local freeskiing legend Michelle Parker will kick off the 18th annual Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series on Thursday, November 30th with her show A Change in Perspective. The show, which documents her father’s battle with dementia and Parkinson’s, chronicles Parker’s effort to balance a life of caregiving and professional skiing. Parker, one of the ski industry’s most versatile female skiers, has appeared in over a dozen ski films and in 2013, won Best Female Performance at the Powder Video Awards and at the International Freeski Film Festival for her segment in Matchstick Productions’ Superheroes of Stoke.
This new experience gifted one of the darlings of the ski industry a new perspective on the fragility of Life. In her show, Parker will take us on an emotional journey that illustrates how time spent with her father was Life’s biggest gift yet, and how this new perspective helped her succeed on a recent big mountain, Alaskan ski expedition from the spring of 2023.
To celebrate the 2023-24 season, MOGROG Rotisserie will serve free food during the kick-off show with Michelle Parker on November 30th. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Alex Tolger’s delicious culinary perfection.
Following Parker, the 2023-24 season is stacked with a lineup of awe-inspiring athletes, including: a tandem show from local Tahoe brothers Jim and John Morrison (1/4/24), Elyse Saugstad (1/17/24), Jess Kimura (2/15/24), and Dave Nettle (3/7/24).
On Thursday, January 4th, local brothers Jim and John Morrison will tandem present Skiing the High Sierra and Beyond, a walk & ski through iconic peaks and destinations, including Lake Tahoe, the High Sierra, and other remote mountain regions of the world. From the old-growth trees of Rubicon Peak to the steep terrain of Red Slate couloir, from the ruggedness of the Matterhorn to the intensity of the Messner, from sunrises in Emerald Bay to sunsets over Mt. Everest, the Morrison brothers will illustrate how the ski dream is meant to be chased.
On Wednesday, January 17th, another local freeskiing pioneer takes the stage. For freeskier Elyse Saugstad, if there’s a will there’s a way. In her years as an outdoorswoman, Elyse has brushed against death, faced mind-numbing fear, and won the respect of her peers in a male-dominated field. Despite winning the Freeride World Tour in 2008, being named Freeskiing Magazine’s Skier of the Year in 2018, and winning the Powder Video Awards Best Female Performance (twice), Saugstad has found herself on the outside of the ski industry, looking in. While hurdles throughout her ski life have been omnipresent, Saugstad has chiseled out a highly successful career through determination and grit. Join Saugstad for a funny, honest, and down-to-earth presentation about what it means to be a successful woman and mother in the ski industry.
Jess Kimura, one of the most influential snowboarders of the last decade, continues the series on Thursday, February 15th. Known for pushing herself to the limit mentally and physically, Kimura has redefined the perceptions of what women are capable of. She holds more awards and accolades than anyone else in her category, yet her true impact reaches far beyond the sport. Her extraordinary dedication to progressing women’s snowboarding led her to create a better space for those following in her footsteps. Kimura’s latest passion project, The Uninvited Invitational, brought a historical prize purse and international media attention to a deserving group of up-and-coming female snowboarders. Follow her unique journey as she unapologetically shatters stereotypes with her unwavering determination and ‘go-for-broke’ mentality, discovering what it truly means to take others along for the ride.
The series will wrap on March 7th with renowned local guide and series co-founder Dave Nettle. Nettle’s Ski Touring the Tyrol: Blending the Magic of Austria and Italy will document a lively and humorous tour through the Tyrol in images and stories of some of Nettle’s favorite adventures during his 25-year love affair with this magical region famous for climbing, skiing, via ferrata, friendly locals and outstanding food and wine.
The 2023-24 Winter Speaker Series is dedicated to local hero, freeskiing icon and community leader Robb Gaffney, who sadly lost his four-year battle with leukemia in September. Gaffney implores us that “Life’s most
important aspect is our connection with each other and with the natural world around us. Only with the openness and the ability to see the value of the experience of the other can we open channels that enable us to
feel the warmth of the universe around us”.
More information can be found online at www.alpenglowsports.com.
About Tahoe Mountain Realty:
Tahoe Mountain Realty’s mission is to provide local expertise, exclusive access, and industry-leading resources
in order to help you reach your goals. Connecting what they know of the industry, the marketplace, and each of the top-tier communities in the Tahoe-Truckee region allows them to find the perfect buyer for every dream home. No detail is too small as they survey potential properties, developers, and clients alike. Working with them means receiving the highest level of service.
Tahoe Mountain Realty has a long history of making mountain dreams come true. They are passionate about the Tahoe-Truckee region and the people who live here because this is their home, and the people who live
here are their friends, family, and neighbors. They consider it a privilege to help you reach your goals and to help shape the community.
About Alpenglow Sports:
Alpenglow Sports is an original California Mountain Shop that has been providing locals and visitors with inspiration, local knowledge, and the best equipment to enjoy the outdoors for over forty years. Based in Tahoe
City, Alpenglow Sports takes pride in being community-minded and socially and environmentally responsible to ensure Lake Tahoe stays one of the best places to play, live, and visit in California.
About the Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series:
Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series is an eagerly anticipated winter tradition for North Tahoe’s adventure community. With over 5,000 attendees annually, the 18-year-old Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series (WSS) has become one of the premier North American forums for adventure storytelling and community fundraising.
Five times per winter, a premier outdoor athlete presents an inspirational tale of adventure, creating a forum for motivation and inspiration. Every show is free. This season, we will be executing a hybrid, in-person, or
virtual event to reach both our local and new global audiences.
Giveaway and bar proceeds, in conjunction with anonymous donations, raise more than $75,000 per show for local non-profit organizations. To date, WSS has raised $1,350,000, making a tangible difference in North Lake Tahoe and beyond.
About the Donor Party:
Established in 2017, the Donor Party is the philanthropic arm of the Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series. Over 50 community-minded individuals make anonymous pledges between $500 and $50,000 each season. For the 2022-23 season, the Donor Party raised nearly $305,000 for local non-profits in need. This is truly an incredible, tax-deductible way to support non-profit organizations in the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee community. If you and/or your company are interested in participating in the Donor Party, please email