“Do or do not, there is no try.”
This is just one of the Star Wars quotes that circulate around competition venues at Freeride World Qualifier events of late. This is most likely as a result of the lovely Evelina Nilsson a Star Wars obsessed, ripping female skier who I have had the pleasure of competing with a lot this season.
I actually asked Evelina to remind me of the this quote while we were standing on top of Mt Gond last weekend, before dropping into our finals run for Nendaz Freeride FWQ 4*. In some ways it’s a strange thing to ask, usually at this time one should be focusing on their drop in zone and the run ahead. But for me these little snippets of advice and support have helped me to get out of a competition funk this winter.
It’s hard to make a generalised statement about camaraderie in women’s action sports, as I have only had a limited experience with big mountain skiing, and even then I have experienced a whole range of personalities and attitudes. There is one thing that I can say for sure is that over the past few years of competing, it is the other female competitors who have supported me, inspired me and at times greatly challenged me to progress and push myself further.
I used to think a lot differently about this and would have readily gone to a guy for advice over another female competitor. Nowadays, if I am worried about the take-off or landing of a cliff, the snow conditions in an area- I go and ask the girls. For sure, not everyone wants to discuss where they are going to ski in a competition at great length, for some it’s part of their strategy at certain events but over this year I have found that for most it can be reassuring and informative to discuss the competition venue with your fellow rivals.
I think my desire to gain advice from my male counterparts in the past was because I wanted to ski harder and better, which at the time for me meant ‘skiing like a boy’. Over the last few years the level of women’s freeride skiing in general, as well as in competition has flourished. In my personal opinion I believe that a lot of this has to do with a paradigm shift , female riders in our sport are choosing not to be compared to male skiers but rather recognising themselves as strong female athletes in their own right.
Girls ski differently to boys, we are built differently and the exciting part about that is that our progression is going to take a different path and will uncover different styles and ways of skiing down the mountain. I mean, freeride skiing would be pretty boring if the aim was just to jump of the biggest cliff on the venue.
So I’ll leave it there, I am sure there is a lot more to be said on this topic but for me- I am just stoked on competing with such as interesting, diverse and ripping group of women who are challenging each other and I can’t wait to see where our sport is going to head next.
I guess there is just one more thing, a big thanks to all the organisations, events, brands and individuals at our events (including the judges and event organisers), who give us the opportunity and support to be the best riders we can.