Skratchlete Spotlight: Vasu Sojitra
Photo: Sofia Jaramillo
My name’s Vasu Sojitra. My pronouns are he/him/his. I’m a visitor on the land of Apsáalooke Nation, Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes, Northern Cheyenne Nation, Blackfoot Confederacy, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and many other Tribes, Nations, Bands, and Confederacies commonly known as Bozeman, MT. I self-identify as a Disabled person of color with a right leg amputation and Indian-American. My motto is “#ninjasticking through the wood to bring intersectionality to the outdoors”. I've also been referred to as “your friendly neighborhood disrupter” mostly because I tend to stir the pot of complacency when it comes to social change specifically within the outdoor space. I’m also a brother to Amir, a son to Rama Sojitra, a partner to Kyla Maher, and continually work to be a good ancestor to those that come after my time both humans and out other than humans. On top of all that I am a professional mountain athlete, an adaptive athlete, and a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant.
From everything from skating to mountaineering -- how do you cross train?
That’s true! I love being outside and that’s primarily how I train: spending time outside either ski touring, running, or hanging. As of the last couple years, I’ve been really focusing on injury prevention and the way I’ve been working on that is by going to the gym and doing circuit workouts 4 days a week. That’s been a great supplement to my traditional outdoor activities. As of very recent I got connected with Zahan Billimoria who is the founder of Samsara Experience. I’m working with him and his team to develop injury prevention and strength based workouts. I’m really looking forward to working with them on this!
What are some of your favorite accomplishments and adventures from the last few years?
I have to say, Mt Moran was wild! Skiing the Skillet was so amazing especially with other folks of color. On top of that skiing the Fuhrer Finger was mind blowing! That I got to ski with another adaptive backcountry skier Pete McAfee. So cool to be out there with folks we might not traditionally see in the winter sports world!
What’s coming up that you are stoked for?
I’m really excited to attempt Denali with Pete and a crew of misfits! Besides that, I’m really enjoying skiing the 50 classic ski descents. I can see why these have made the list. Offdah!
Photo: Seth Langbauer
What motivates you?
What motivated me is suffering both in the personal sense during these outings and the sense that we need to end pointless suffering in our world. Revolutionaries like Yuri Kochiyama, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, the folks behind the BLM movement, Mariame Kaba, Mia Mingus, and so so so many others that put themselves out there for the greater good of humanity.
Do you have a favorite saying/words of motivation?
As of currently it is a saying by Mariame Kaba, a modern abolitionist: “Everything worthwhile is done with others.” I can’t get that out of my mind whenever I do my work both as an athlete and as a strategist; knowing that this is bigger than myself and I need to continue to fight for what is just with those by my side.
Photo: Seth Langbauer
Favorite ways to fuel?
I LOVE all international foods. Literally! I can eat from the local taco buses everyday, go to the ramen shop for lunch, hit up the Ethiopia place on my way to the PNW, and demolish a plate of my mom’s home made pani puris. You name it, I’m game to try and I’ll most likely find it delicious!
Favorite ways to recover after a hard effort?
I can’t get away from chocolate milk!! The Skratch Chocolate recovery mix is perfect for that craving. And with Horchata in the mix, woowee!! LFG!
What does a day-off look like for you?
I tell most people that 90% of the time I’m sitting on my a** and 10% I’m actually active. My recovery days entail sleeping in until 9 or 10 am, making a pot of delicious green tea w/ grated ginger and a splash of honey, a PHAT stack of french toast with REAL maple syrup (preferably from Vermont), then binge watching anime on my couch. For lunch I usually swing by the taco bus to get some enchiladas, read a bit on transformative justice or other revolutionary ideas, and take the rest of the day with ease and very little care. Love a good lazy dazzeee.
Favorite pieces of gear?
Without a doubt and hesitation my ninjasticks aka my custom Ti forearm crutches. I call them ninjastick to reframe and breakdown the stigmas around medical equipment and disability.
What is the biggest challenge you face in sport or the outdoors?
Top 5 things to do or to read for people to start educating themselves on ableism in the outdoors:
Disability Sensitivity Training Video
I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much - Stella Young
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice
Ableism and Language
And so so so much more!
What would you want people to know about you, your athletic endeavors, diversifying outdoors, etc?
This image… We all need to do some interpersonal work to reconcile so much harm and trauma we have taken part in through power and privilege.