We Want You!

Ski & Snow - - Up Close - By Vic­to­ria Beat­tie – Tori skis for Rojo, Ar­mada, POW Gloves, Chop and Snow­Park Pics by: Alice Beat­tie and Dan War­brick

Women’s freeski­ing is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­plo­sive growth. With in­creases in the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants at ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions and re­tail sales of fe­male spe­cific equip­ment, ski com­pa­nies are now tak­ing a more ded­i­cated approach to the fe­male mar­ket. Most ski man­u­fac­tur­ers now have a women’s spe­cific twin-tip ski as part of their line, and a ded­i­ca­tion to de­vel­op­ing their women’s prod­uct. Skis with shorter lengths, lighter weights, and for­giv­ing flex are mak­ing the in­tro­duc­tion to freestyle ski­ing a lot eas­ier for most girls. But sur­round­ing that is an over­whelm­ing growth in freeski­ing in gen­eral. This year, events that pre­vi­ously strug­gled to muster enough com­peti­tors for a fe­male di­vi­sion found them­selves turn­ing away girls. The in­au­gu­ral Queens Cup Open, the first ever girls-only slopestyle event, had to cut off en­try at 80 girls, with de­mand over­whelm­ing event or­gan­iser Anna De Masi, who ad­mit­ted she would have been happy with 20 girls! The US Open in Vail only al­lows en­try to 30 fe­male com­peti­tors, and all spots had been filled within 10 min­utes of on­line reg­is­tra­tion open­ing. But num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is not the only area that is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing mas­sive growth. With the in­crease in the num­ber of girls at a com­pet­i­tive level, the stan­dard of women’s ski­ing has been pushed higher than ever be­fore. This year saw 900’s be­com­ing a min­i­mum re­quire­ment to win a ma­jor comp, with some switch 9’s be­ing landed by Kaya and Sarah at the Or­age Masters in May. With scouts watch­ing to de­ter­mine whether fe­male freeskiers should be al­lowed to com­pete in X Games slopestyle, the fu­ture is look­ing bright for the girls in­dus­try.

For many years the only fe­male park skiers that were in the lime­light were North Amer­i­cans Kristi Le­sk­i­nen and Sarah Burke, and they had to com­pete with the boys in or­der to get recog­ni­tion. Now there is a wave of fe­male tal­ent com­ing through. Un­like men’s com­pe­ti­tion, where any one of 30 equally tal­ented guys could win on the day, there seems to be a lot less pres­sure when the girls com­pete. I found that while the top guys re­main very fo­cused and keep to them­selves on comp days, the girls are help­ing each other pick their runs, train­ing to­gether, and be­ing a lot more vo­cal in their sup­port of each other at the top of the course. There is a col­lec­tive de­sire to see the bar raised at each event, al­most re­gard­less of who emerges the win­ner. This past North­ern sea­son saw lo­cal girls en­joy­ing some well-earned in­ter­na­tional suc­cess. Pip Sim­monds, who has signed to new ski com­pany Lib­erty, posted a 10th place at the US Open Half­pipe. Whistler-based Cat Smi­ley placed 5th at the Apex World Cup Half­pipe and Amy Shee­han spent the sea­son in As­pen, and de­stroyed lo­cal events be­fore an in­jury put her on the side­lines. Across the Tas­man, sis­ters Stephanie and Natalie Sir­ri­ani ruled the comps they made it to, with Natalie plac­ing 5th in Slopestyle at the US Open for the 2nd year run­ning and Stephanie plac­ing 8th in the pipe. Natalie was also a mem­ber of the team that placed 2nd at the Queens Cup Open in Park City. I even man­aged to make it onto a cou­ple of podi­ums with a 2nd at the As­pen Snow­mass Open (held on the X Games slopestyle course) and 3rd at the Euro­pean Freeski­ing Open in Laax, Switzer­land. This sea­son some of the best girls in the world will be com­ing to New Zealand to spend their off­sea­son hon­ing their skills at Snow­Park. X-Games com­peti­tors Michelle Parker, Marie Marti­noldRoutin & Vir­ginie Faivre, as well as new sen­sa­tions Kaya Turski and Kim La­marre will all make an ap­pear­ance in Au­gust.

You don’t need to have been ski­ing all your life to get into the park. Other sports cross over eas­ier than you think. The 2 most suc­cess­ful new­com­ers to the girls cir­cuit this year were an ex diver and an in­line skater. I thought I hated comps, but I ended up hav­ing a lot of fun this year, and com­pet­ing is def­i­nitely the best way to push your­self to im­prove. But there is a dis­tinct lack of young girls in New Zealand that are show­ing an in­ter­est in freeski comps. This year the SnowGirls pro­gram at Snow­Park is ex­pand­ing to in­clude more camps, and more coaches. Snow­Park has also cre­ated the Switch Academy to nur­ture the young lo­cal tal­ent in the Wanaka Queen­stown area, and ed­u­cate them about the re­al­i­ties of be­ing a com­pet­i­tive snows­ports ath­lete. They will train ev­ery week­end of the sea­son in a fun pro­gres­sive en­vi­ron­ment, and hone their big moun­tain & park skills. Sev­eral lo­cal girls have al­ready signed up for the sea­son. Plus check out the GP Wed­nes­days (Girls Pro­gres­sion) at Re­mark­ables/Queen­stown.

But if you want to be a part of it all, the ath­letes are only the tip of the ice­berg, and I will be the first to ad­mit that it is a long, of­ten painful road to suc­ceed­ing as an ath­lete! The ski in­dus­try is com­prised of many jobs be­hind the scenes: Pho­tog­ra­phers, filmers, edi­tors, jour­nal­ists, team man­agers, event or­gan­is­ers, sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives, de­sign­ers – and as the in­dus­try grows, so too does de­mand for th­ese jobs. You don’t re­ally need any on-moun­tain skills to be a valid mem­ber of the ski com­mu­nity! Un­like tra­di­tional ski­ing, which was based on fam­ily hol­i­days, alpine race events, and the soli­tary en­joy­ment of the sport, freeski­ing is fu­eled by im­age, and there­fore is com­pletely de­pen­dent on the me­dia. If we are to look at Snow­board­ing as a more ma­ture ex­am­ple of a me­dia-de­pen­dent sport, the big­gest dif­fer­ences you will see are in the level of cor­po­rate sup­port – at events, which are a lot big­ger and gen­er­ally have larger prize purses, and in ad­ver­tis­ing, re­sult­ing in more films, mag­a­zines, and TV ad­verts. As freeski­ing slowly gains main­stream recog­ni­tion, the de­mand for images and words is go­ing to in­crease. And as womens freeski­ing grows, so to will the op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in all ar­eas of the ski in­dus­try. If you are a mem­ber of the ski club at school or uni, start writ­ing sto­ries about any trips you take or events you have. If you have pho­tog­ra­phy skills, get out there on the hill and start tak­ing pho­tos. New Zealand mag­a­zines love any lo­cal con­tent and are de­mand­ing more. If you are study­ing any type of de­sign or busi­ness course and won­der­ing what on earth you are go­ing to do when you fin­ish, look at the awe­some ways peo­ple are us­ing sim­i­lar skills in the ski in­dus­try.

If there is one piece of ad­vice I can give to some­one on the out­side of the ski in­dus­try look­ing to get in, it is that 99.99% of the avail­able po­si­tions are never ad­ver­tised. No one is go­ing to give you a leg up, you need to ask for it. A lot of the time you just need to cre­ate a po­si­tion for your­self, rather than wait­ing for one to ap­pear. Con­tact com­pa­nies that you might be in­ter­ested in work­ing for, ask your lo­cal ski area if they need pro­mo­tional images taken, of­fer to sub­mit reg­u­lar ar­ti­cles to your lo­cal mag­a­zine or pa­per.

So if you’ve ever dreamt of turn­ing your lifestyle into a ca­reer, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, you just have to seek them out. If you do, how­ever, want to give freeski­ing a shot, with SnowGirls Tues­days ev­ery week of the sea­son, and a camp al­ways run­ning dur­ing the school hol­i­days there is no ex­cuse not to get down here and at least give it a go! If you can stand on one foot for more than 10 sec­onds, you prob­a­bly have the bal­ance re­quired, and if you make it up the road to the ski hill with­out hav­ing a ner­vous break­down, you have more than con­quered any fear you might en­counter – so what’s hold­ing you back? Pip and I will be coach­ing again, and there are al­ways guest pros hang­ing around that are more than will­ing to de­vote some time to get more girls stoked on ski­ing!

Don­ner Pass in Ta­hoe. "As womens freeski­ing grows, so to will the op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in all ar­eas of the ski in­dus­try."

Name: Vic­to­ria Jane Beat­tie Height: 164cm Weight: 66kg Years of Ex­pe­ri­ence: 22 Lives in: Wanaka from May to De­cem­ber Favourite Hill: Snow­Park Has skied in: A Dress. Ski’s be­cause: It’s the ul­ti­mate free­dom. Boyfriends: Cur­rently ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions!...

Tori at Snow­Patch

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