Ski like a girl

Ski Like A Girl

They were blue and white, and I plastered them on everything. Ski Like a Girl stickers were on my car, my skis, helmets, street signs…any flat surface I could find. I was 15..and the “skiing” part was actually nordic skiing (but don’t let that judgement stop you from reading further). I was proud to be an active girl, and I would say that I still very much am.
But, being the classic over thinker that I am, there is something that bothers me about the focus put on gender in the ski industry (and every other industry for that matter). Aren’t we all just, “skiers”? And when we separate ourselves from the guys, aren’t we adding to the original problem?
Even during my nordic nerd days, I still watched every ski movie that came out. And while I loved watching Seth huck, Sage float, and Candide spin, I would spend the most time rewinding any segment with Ingrid, Kristi, or Sarah in it. I can’t help but think when watching a girl ski, that “I can do that too” and I think that feeling becomes a valuable source of inspiration.  Whether it’s seeing Kaya Turski, Anna Segal, Keri Herman, and Maude Raymond oozing style in the park, or Angel Collinson, Lexi Dupont, and Michelle Parker breaking into the big mountain films, or Leah Evans, Rachael Burkes, and Lynsey Dyer helping unsponsored women explore their own boundaries through skiing…the list of females killing it is growing exponentially-both in size and talent. (and even picking just 10 girls to highlight was difficult and leaves out every single female whom has ever put themselves out there and registered for a Freeride World Tour event,)
But why is it, that I let myself become frustrated with the women who are showcasing their looks before their skiing; especially since when you look at the numbers, there are at least 30 girls ripping for every one modeling. And while those ratios aren’t necessarily translated into equal sponsorship deals, film budgets, and publicity, one would hope that at some point the industry would come around.

Furthermore, I don’t want to be out there “hating” on anyone. We certainly all have different preferences and life goals and as long as we are all being honest in our efforts, I think there should be some flexibility in letting people, well, do what they want. We all find inspiration from different sources, and that’s okay.
So I guess the question is, what do we do from here. Freeskiing certainly is not the first platform in which gender issues have come up, but I think it’s a sport so new in it’s origins and so open in its concept, that it could provide a stage for an equaling out of genders. I think, every time a girl clicks into a pair of bindings and puts their all into their skiing, we become one step closer to not having to put the focus on whether someone is a good female skier, but rather just a good skier. And at the end of the day, while I believe that working your hardest at everything you do is important, we are all just sliding down frozen water on pieces of wood and metal.

SickBird

photo(1)
Photo Credit: Brenton Reagan

The competition season has finally started. While many have started to plan out their spring break plans, gaper day costumes, and honed in on their pond skimming skills, I’ve tried my best to keep my focus strong for the upcoming four star circuit of the Freeride World Tour.

The first competition of the year began in Taos. I wasn’t feeling particularly drawn to any lines during the first day and decided to just ski fast and fluid and hope that my skiing alone would be enough. After day one I was in fifth place, for me an ideal “pouncing” spot. After my run, I parked it at the bottom of the venue in search for my second day line. While watching the men run, my eyes kept returning to a narrow chute in the “heavy timbers” area. After watching some guys send it perfectly, and not so perfectly, I was determined to at least scout it.

The next morning I rode up with Jack Weise, a Crested Butte skier, who was looking at the same line. At first glance it looked heinous. The middle cut in would be on sugary snow and pure rock. I took one last look and then booked it around to try to inspect an alternate line before the start.

As I watched the snowboard women run, I kept debating with Jack and another Crested Butte local, Tom Runcie, about the line. The debate continued in my head as I hiked the short walk to the start and watched the girls start to ski.

For me (a classic over thinker), it was a big picture, little picture debate. Do I ski a safe line, that would most likely guarantee me a final day run, points on the tour, and eventually a spot on the 5 star tour? Or do I ski a technical line, pushing my own skiing, women’s skiing, and my own confidence….but run the risk of crashing?

When I was on deck, the decision came easily. Go harder. Yes I may crash, yes it may jeopardize my points for the year, but for me, I left my hospitality career and started skiing to challenge myself and grow as a person. What I like about skiing is it makes me face myself.  From the scary moments, I am able to really learn about my limits.

It’s important to remember that your limits are not fixed. To play in that space is a gift. Melissa Arnot

With the smile and words of confidence of my teammate Tess Wood in my head, I started skiing the ridge towards my line. I gave myself a serious pep talk  through the woods, reminding myself of all my days training in the gym and on snow. Getting into my line, there were moments where I thought my bowels would fail me, but once I got an eye on the chute, I knew I could do it. A quick hop turn, rock absorption, and landing and I was out. On my second turn through the bumps, I kicked my ski.

Coming through the finish line, I was elated. Slightly disappointed, of course…but to feel the excitement of the fellow competitors was amazing. The excitement continued when I heard I won the Sickbird award. To scroll through the list of past winners, I could not be happier to be in the company of so many of my ski heroes. (http://subarufreerideseries.com/sickbirds/)

A huge thanks to Jack, Tom, and Jesse Bryan for helping me inspect, Tess for the motivation, Sanjay Poovardan for the lovely home, and all the girls who came out and shredded! And of course, Marmot, Line Skis, Smith Optics, GU Energy, and Mountain Athlete

Next up…Moonlight Basin!

The highly coveted Sickbird award was originally created by freeskiing’s venerable master of ceremonies, John “Dak” Williams. The award honors the skier who not only skies with the most aggression and style, but also represents the sport’s heart, soul and passion.

A Year in Review

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt

 

Grand Traverse Attempt

It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just come down from my favorite hike in the Jackson Hole Valley-Avalanche Canyon to Lake Taminah, when I checked my voicemail. “Hey Hadley, it’s Brenton, do you think you could do the Grand Traverse Tuesday and Wednesday, call me back”

My mind started racing. I had been working 6 days a week all summer, training at Mountain Athlete at night and Core Pilates in the morning and frankly I was exhausted. Furthermore, my schedule did not allow for too many days hiking in the Tetons-Avalanche Canyon was my third trip into the Tetons all summer. Would I be able to summit 10 peaks, nine over 12,000 feet, with 20,000 vertical feet up peaks and valleys- in just two days?

Resi and I in Avalanche Canyon

After a tossing and turning all night I called Brenton (fellow Marmot Athlete and Exum Mountain Guide) in the morning and agreed. I kept telling myself that Brenton wouldn’t have asked me if he didn’t believe I could do it. I begged my very forgiving bosses for the days off (I can’t thank them enough for allowing me such flexibility), scurried around town for the right gear, and tried to get one last night of sleep.

At the ripe hour of midnight I met Brenton, fellow Marmot Athlete and Exum Co-Owner Mike Poborsky, and local photographer David Stubbs. We shuffled gear around and were hiking away from the Lupine Meadows parking lot around 1:00am. This is a glimpse at the next 20ish hours (not 100% accurate time wise, as most of it was a blur)

2am-Spotted a friendly fox who would follow us for the next few hours

3am-Becoming increasingly jealous of the fox’s endless energy up what seems like the steepest trail in Jackson

4am-The trail turns from dirt to rock as our amazing guides lead us through the darkness

5am-5,500 feet later, the summit of Teewinot, blanketed in wind and darkness

6am-The most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I am still not sure how to translate the beauty of it all without being incredibly cheesy, but I have never felt more inspired or more at peace.

7am-Repelling down towards the base of Mt. Owen

Can’t wait to ski the route to my left Photo David Stubbs

8am-Utterly amazed by Mike and Brenton’s comfortableness in the mountains.

9am-Remember that feeling of peace…it turned into exhaustion

10am-Questioning if my feet will move forward

Mt. Owen and Teewinot photo Hadley Hammer

11am-Pondering how we keep walking yet Mt. Owen seems to always stay the same distance away

12pm-Rejoicing in being able to drop our backs as we went for the summit of Mt. Owen

Mike, the ultimate guide, and I traverse the base of Mt. Owen, photo David Stubbs

1pm-Yes I would love to rewalk this knife edge again to take more videos

2pm-Summit of Mt. Owen

Brenton and Mike, Mt Owen Summit Photo David Stubbs

3pm-Fried Chicken

4pm-Climbing! Feeling rejuvenated and ready to use my arms to get my body up the mountain

5pm-Base of the Italian Cracks, 6 pitches to go

Italian Cracks Photo Hadley Hammer

6pm-Unreal exposure on the North side of the Grand’s belay ledges

7pm-Standing at 13,770ft, the highest point I had been in my life

8pm-The group and the sun descending down to the lower saddle, once again blanketed in a golden glow

Golden Glow Photo Hadley Hammer

9pm-The perks of an Exum guided trip is after all your walking, your next camp is stocked with water, food, and three sleeping bags

10am-Deep Sleep

Unfortunately, our next days plans changed a bit when we woke up. David had done a good amount of damage to his knee, and the second part of the trip postponed. However, instead of heading straight back into civilization, we stopped on our way down to climb the Corkscrew route. Although it would be a bit of a trek for a day climb, I highly recommend the route. During one of the pitches, I even caught myself giggling in delight.

We finished the route, cruised to the parking lot, scarfed hamburgers and all parted ways. I cannot wait to get back next summer for the complete route, hopefully not off the couch again.

I can’t thank Brenton enough for the invite, Mike for the inspiration on how to move so gracefully in the mountains, and David for the evidence of our hard work. Furthermore GU for the energy, Marmot for the clothes, and Smith Optics for protecting my eyes.

GEAR USED:

Marmot Zelus 25

Zelus 25 Women’s Backpacks Equipment

Marmot Minimalist Jacket

Wm's Minimalist Jacket Women’s Outerwear Waterproof Jackets GORE-TEX®

Marmot Rockstar Pants

Marmot Ama Dablam Jacket

Wm's Ama Dablam Jacket Women’s Outerwear Down Insulated Jackets Down

Marmot Variant Hoody

Wm's Variant Hoody Women’s Outerwear Synthetic Insulated Jackets Thermal R

Smith Optics Aura

Marmot Winter Gear

With snow reported in the high elevations of the Tetons and temperatures dropping around the Jackson valley, I’m starting to get the early winter jitters. Although it may be a few months off, I’m starting to prepare for winter! Marmot (insert shameless product promotion here) has some amazing new products for winter that I can’t wait to sport all season long.

Dawn Patrol Jacket

Wm's Dawn Patrol Jacket Cherry Tomato Women’s Outerwear Waterproof Jackets Thermal R

Those early morning tram lines (which sadly will be without my willing roommate who will be in Paris at pastry school…I guess I will need to find someone else who likes to wake up at 5am to stand in line for four plus hours) will be no problem wrapped up in the Dawn Patrol Jacket. GORE-TEX outside and Thermal R insulation will surely keep me skiing bell to bell.

Spire Pants

Wm's Spire Pant Bright Grass Women’s Outerwear Waterproof Pants GORE-TEX®

Jackson’s side-country is unmatched anywhere in the United States.  That being said ski days are filled with both lift rides and quick 45 min to two hour hikes. The spire pants are perfect for keeping you warm on those windy Sublette days and cool enough during sprints up the ridge-line of Cody bowl.

Quasar Jacket

Wm's Quasar Jacket Cobalt Blue Women’s Outerwear Down Insulated Jackets Down

The Quasar jacket is perfect for those two weeks in Jackson where the temperatures never seem to get above zero degrees. I’m a big fan of down upon down upon down, but the Quasar alleviates the need to wear a micro down under a bigger puffy with it’s 900-fill goose down. You’ll find me in this jacket on the ski hill, at the apres bar, and on the couch.

Armageddon Undercuff Glove

Wm's Armageddon Undercuff Seaside/White Women’s Gloves Accessories MemBrain®

I have never been one for wearing gloves…but at last year’s Marmot commercial shoot (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEXu7dafNrA) I changed my mind. The Armageddon glove keeps your hands down right balmy. Even when the sun was setting during the last hours of the shoot, my hands were still warm. As well, they are perfectly cuffed to slide right under the sleeve of your jacket, keeping powder away from your wrists.

Sylvie Hoody

Wm's Sylvie Hoody Deep Purple Women’s Sportswear Pullover Quick Drying

I just received this hoody a few days ago and haven’t taken it off since. It’s the perfect length, incredibly soft, and the ideal post-skiing layer.

Now all I need is a little bit of snow!

Suffer Fest

For the first time ever, my body went into complete failure last week. I was past the Michael Jackson shakes you get climbing, past the I’m so sore I can’t stand up without assistance…I literally couldn’t move. As I write this my roommate and I are giggling over mental images of me hurling in the bathroom of Mountain Athlete. Turns out surviving all day on coffee and 1/2 a cup of water and then doing sled pushes (one of the cruelest forms of punishment we go through at the gym) is a recipe for complete muscle and other bodily function failure. One of the small ironies was that just before the work out I listened to Floyd Mayweather’s Success. How Bad Do You Want It?. Feel free to make fun of me, but after working all day I usually need some form of motivator to get me excited about the gym. After the 8th round  of sled pushes when I could feel my quads seizing and my head spinning all I could think about was one particular line from his speech-“I got a question for you.” He told the guy, he said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe than you will be successful.”. And there lied the irony…I couldn’t breathe, but I wanted to finish the work out. The pain eventually subsided and within the hour I was back home laughing with my roommates, the episode quickly became an entertaining memory. Three days I later I completed the same work out with [relative] ease.

Strength training has had an incredible and very much measurable impact on my life. Upon deciding that I would like to give competitive skiing a serious shot, I wanted to do everything possible to well, succeed. So four to five times a week I joined an incredible group of elite athletes (including Jess McMillan, Matt Annetts, Griffin Post, Crystal Wright, Brenton Reagan, Rob Hess, Mattie Sheafor, Eric Seymour, etc) at a gym created by Rob Shaul based in Jackson, Wyoming. The workouts are tough, but there is something almost addicting about the training. More than anything it has given me a great amount of confidence in my skiing. Those moments where my leg is somehow above my head, I am now able to pull it back in and continue skiing. Standing at the start gate of competition I know I’ve done everything I can to be prepared.  I was even able to recover from a broken back quickly and with more appreciation for simple body movements.

The effects of Mountain Athlete have been endless.

 

The amazing Karissa Tuthill and Monica Purington crushing it at Mtn Athlete. Photo “borrowed” from Monica Purington

For more information: mtnathlete.com

Spring time in the hole

Atop Glory Bowl

Spring in Jackson is not necessarily my favorite time of year. In attempt to avoid the spring-blues, I’ve been trying to keep my days full of activity. I’ve been finding the last of the snow to ski, keeping my belly full with home-made chicken pot pie, and wandering around the valley with my roommates. Although it’s not the tropical vacation that I hoped for, it’s one of the more entertaining springs I’ve had in Jackson.

Walking along the Snake River