Anchorage family remembers 22-year-old who died after ski accident at Alyeska

Milano's, Penelope Foudeas

Flowers and photos of Penelope Foudeas occupy a section of tables at Milano’s Pizzeria in West Anchorage. People have been stopping by and paying respects in recent days at her parents’ restaurant.

Penelope, 22, died from injuries suffered in a fall while skiing at Alyeska Resort on March 21, her family said. She had just returned to Alaska for a visit from Cleveland, where she was in graduate school. She was skiing with family members when she wiped out in a “freak accident,” her brother said. Her funeral was on April 1.

“Whenever I felt down, sad, she would change my mood,” said her brother, Dikeos Foudeas.

Both Dikeos and his younger sister worked at Milano’s, owned by parents Pete and Elvie on West 36th Avenue in Spenard. Penelope would answer phones and take orders during her senior year at Service High School, he said.

Penelope was an avid dancer, who started at just 6 years old. She studied ballet, tap and jazz, and performed with two club teams in college at Ohio State University in Columbus, where she graduated in 2020 with a degree in psychology and a minor in modern Greek. For two summers, she studied in Greece, her father’s homeland. Other summers, she worked at Milano’s.

She moved to Cleveland last year for graduate school studying nutrition at Case Western Reserve University. She was making plans to apply to physician assistant school. She worked as a patient assistant at the Cleveland Clinic.

“She was a really kind, caring human being who made a lot of sacrifices to help others,” Dikeos said. “She was always very super-inclusive, so she never made anyone feel left out.”

Her brother said Penelope flew up from the Lower 48 on March 21 to surprise him for his birthday. The accident happened later that day while skiing with family at Alyeska Resort.

Milano's, Penelope Foudeas

She was on her second or third trip down the mountain when a “freak accident” occurred, her brother said. Penelope was wearing a helmet during the crash and had experience skiing, he said.

“She was doing normal runs, she went down a chute — none of these runs were difficult,” Dikeos said. “She was with my uncle, and I guess they kind of separated. Apparently, she just lost control and wiped out.”

Penelope tore both carotid arteries and her aorta on impact, her brother said. First responders were on the scene about a minute after the accident, her brother said, and she was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. She died at the hospital three days later.

A spokesman with Alyeska Resort said the accident happened on the upper mountain above the tree line.

Penelope’s funeral service was held at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church on April 1.

“Her smile could light up a room and she was known to offer support to whomever needed it,” her family wrote in her obituary. “She had a bubbly and goofy personality and was always the optimist ... Penelope loved food and travel in a way that was inseparable from the rest of her character. She could never pass up a good meal, whether it was her aunties’ Chicken Adobo at Thanksgiving or Moussaka in her father’s hometown of Exohori, Kalamata, Greece.”

Milano's, Penelope Foudeas

Her brother said around 15 of her Ohio friends flew up for the funeral. He heard more stories about his sister: anecdotes about her impact in the local dance community and collegiate Greek organization, Sigma Epsilon Phi.

“She was kind of like — not my pillar of strength, but every time I was ever in a bad mood or needed support, the one person that I would go to who I knew would always have my back and motivate me to do better was my sister,” Dikeos said.

Sigma Epsilon Phi, a Greek-Orthodox cultural organization at Ohio State, started a GoFundMe to endow a scholarship in her name: the Penelope Foudeas Memorial Scholarship. The page was created on Friday and by Saturday had raised nearly $17,000 out of its $25,000 goal, with the goal of allowing other students to study abroad.

Samantha Davenport

Samantha Davenport is a former ADN reporter.