Linda Peterson recently opened Hair9 Salon and Lash Studio on North Fir Street. (Courtesy photo)

Former world freestyle ski champion Linda Peterson has always been both artist and athlete. That’s why, even as she toured the world as a professional skier, she always carried a pair of scissors with her wherever she went — just in case someone needed a new ’do.

“It’s always just a functional tool to have,” Peterson said of her penchant for traveling with her scissors.

In December, the longtime hairstylist opened Hair9 Salon and Lash Studio, a new salon just off Main Street on North Fir. The salon offers cuts for men, women and children; color; lash extensions; and wedding styling.

Peterson, who moved to Colorado from her childhood home in Minnesota shortly after completing hair school, has been skiing and cutting hair ever since. Raised in a family of artists and athletes, she grew up painting and doing crafts when she wasn’t out skiing. Peterson has stayed true to her roots, doing what she loves, simply trading her paintbrush for a pair of hair-cutting shears and skiing as much as she can.

When she decided to open her own salon, the ski theme came naturally, along with the name.

“It came to me sometime riding up Chair 9 a million times,” she said. “I was like, ‘Hair9.’ What else would I call my salon?”

A small, eye-catching sign hangs above the studio’s door, painted a jaunty yellow and bearing a chairlift-themed logo designed by Cara Wilder. Peterson’s 84-year-old father, who she described affectionately as “a character,” pulled out his paintbrushes to ply his old trade in service of his daughter’s new salon.

“He was a sign painter when I was growing up, and then he moved to Lake Havasu and changed his name to Luke,” she recalled. “He’s Cowboy Luke. He sings karaoke and cooks for 300 people,” she summarized, adding that he recently lost his wife to COVID-19.

While business has been steady for Peterson since opening, there are challenges to running a hair studio in Telluride. The biggest one so far has been finding housing for would-be employees, she said. While she’d like to hire another stylist and perhaps a nail technician, and has had a few people interested, she’s found that “there’s just no place for them to live.”

For the moment, however, it’s been a pretty smooth ride for the one-woman show, and she expressed her deep gratitude for the ability to perform a service she loves while being able to keep her passion for skiing at the fore. Cutting hair, she said, is a unique way to get to know the entire family, and to get to be there for important life milestones like proms and weddings.

“I love meeting the kids and then getting to watch them grow up throughout their lives,” she said.

She also offers bridal styling, one of her favorite elements of the job.

“You can be very artistic with it,” she said. “The brides are always so happy being here in Telluride.”

Wedding planner and designer J. Meehan Fee, owner of Telluride Unveiled, has been working with Peterson for the past eight years. Crafting the perfect wedding experience includes a relaxing and enjoyable styling experience for the bride and wedding party, something that she says Peterson delivers without fail.

“The services that she has provided to our clients are always beautiful and customized to each of their unique styles and vision,” Fee said. “We’re excited to see a business in Telluride continue to grow and succeed.”

Peterson strives to keep her prices family friendly and welcoming to a town she wants to retain its original ski bum character. The glitz and glamour of Aspen feel far away from her ideals, but that’s how she likes it.

“Telluride’s a funky town, and I want to keep it that way,” she said.

While she’s happy to take new clients, she did note that she’s heading out this week for some fresh turns in her old stomping grounds of Alta, Utah, where she was based as a professional skier. Until Feb. 9, she’s gone skiing.