SNOW // 01 SEP 2022
SHE'S PROOF IT CAN BE DONE
It’s funny how two seemingly very similar sports can be so wildly different. Growing up in Minnesota as an alpine ski racer, it was very much a dog-eat-dog kind of world. I vividly remember girls dumping water in each other’s boots so their feet would freeze the next day and secretly turning each other’s DINs down so they’d walk out of their bindings when pushing out of the start gate. Hell, even the parents got involved. There was always a particular mom who was nowhere to be seen if I beat her daughter in a race but if her time was faster than mine, that mom was the first to greet me in the finish corral. Every. Single. Time. It’s true that people won’t remember the specific things you said to them, but they’ll absolutely remember how you made them feel.
In the freeride scene, that type of attitude will leave you riding the chair alone. Sure, there’s the individual competitiveness between skiers but there isn’t nearly as much of the, “I’m going to eat you alive,” mentality. It’s much more collaborative and supportive across the board and that was a bit of a culture shock for me. My partner still has to remind me from time to time that I’m not in ski racing anymore, there isn’t a single winner of this crazy game we all like to play. That’s actually what led me to writing this story. Because I think, even though the industry has come a long way, there’s still much to improve in skiing and in the sports world as a whole when it comes to representation of women. What we see is what we believe.
There’s a quote swirling on the internet I’ve come across without any clear attribution, but it has stayed with me since the first time I read it. “She’s not your competition, she’s proof it can be done.” I’m not sure if it speaks to me because I’m so inherently competitive in everything I do or if it’s because there is so much depth to that single phrase.
It’s easy to get caught up in what every other professional female skier is doing and compare it to your own skiing but if you take a step back, you can actually see that an accomplishment of one woman does not diminish your own. It raises us all up to another level. When the bar gets reset, it’s not a personal loss because you weren’t the one to raise it. It’s a group gain because we all have a higher ceiling to reach for now. I’m not sure when, where or how the ski industry shifted the “we” mentality to “me,” but I’d like to think we’re headed back in the right direction. More brands are bringing on more girls, more ski films are featuring more women, and ladies are teaming up to create their own content—including myself and my project partner, Ana Eyssimont. We instantly gravitated toward each other the first day we met on a ski assignment at Snowbird and the lack of competitiveness between ourselves was something neither of us have experienced much with other girls. So we made a ski movie.
Coming out this fall, Quiantrelle is an ode to all female skiers and a visual representation of mine and Ana’s relationship. We both love to rip but with complimentary styles, there’s a lot we can learn from each other. Now in the editing process of the film, I have had multiple moments of feeling inept compared to Ana’s grace in the air. Then I have to remind myself that there are things I can do on skis because of my racing background that Ana never learned how to do. It doesn’t make one of us any better than the other, it just makes us different. And who ever wants to be a copycat anyways? That is, unless you’re trying to be like Rachael Burks.
A stoke cauldron overflowing with love and enthusiasm, Burks is the living example I hope to be for other girls. Genuinely eager to get more women in the spotlight, Burks will be the first person to gush over your turning technique or let out a giant howl when you decide to hit something big—no matter if you land it or not. There’s not an ounce of competitiveness in any interaction with Burks, she just loves to love and to spread that love to as many people who are willing to accept it. When I say that I hope to one day be like Burks, I truly mean it. Because like I stated earlier, I won’t remember what Burks specifically said to me, but I will always remember how she makes me feel when I ski with her. Confident, capable and absolutely badass.
Just because I’m the one writing this doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I still battle with my insecurities on a daily basis but now I choose to challenge my own perspective when I see other women killing it in their respective realms; athletically, academically, personally or professionally. Let the accomplishments of other women feed your fire, not stifle it. Because at the end of day, we’re all in this space and time together working toward the same goal. And that’s pretty damn special.