Professional freeskier Lynsey Dyer of Jackson is working to create an all-female ski film. (Photo courtesy Unicorn Picnic Productions – click to enlarge).
Professional freeskier Lynsey Dyer of Jackson is working to create an all-female ski film. (Photo courtesy Unicorn Picnic Productions – click to enlarge).

More than just pretty faces: Ski movie to showcase women who shred

— January 14, 2014

Kelsey Dayton
Kelsey Dayton

There are a few things Lynsey Dyer remembers from seeing a Warren Miller ski film when she was 8 years old. The films attracted an especially rowdy audience back then, and Dyer recalls the sense that despite attending with her family she had snuck into a concert.

The strangers in the audience connected with one another over one thing: Skiing powder. The next thing Dyer remembers is noticing there were no girls in the film. That realization was followed by another.

“I can do that,” Dyer thought. “I know how to do that skiing powder stuff.”

Years later Dyer worried that other young girls attending ski movies might be impressed with the big lines and sick tricks, but notice a lack of “girls,” thinking big mountain skiing is for boys only.

Dyer hopes to change that with a new film, “Pretty Faces,” which will feature only female skiers, including Dyer and pro skiers Rachael Burks, Elyse Saugstad and Ingrid Backstrom. The film is the first crowd-funded all-female ski movie. A Kickstarter campaign, continuing until Wednesday, helped raised more than $100,000.

“I think a lot of people can’t believe it’s just happening now,” said Allie Rood, contribution coordinator with the project. Rood, a freeskier herself, had a moment like Dyer’s when watching a ski movie; she realized there were no females featured. Her interest in promoting women in skiing lead her to Dyer’s organization, which Dyer created to get females more involved in outdoor sports.

“Pretty Faces” will feature all women skiers, and the crew also will likely be mostly female, Rood said. The movie will feature classic “ski porn” elements, but will also use submitted footage of females of all ages and abilities, and will examine how women today are pursuing their ski dreams, as well as the challenges they face, Rood said.

But make no mistake. There will be no shortage of awe-inspiring skiing. In February, Dyer will head to a remote area of Alaska accessible only by helicopter and skied only a few times by some of the best men freeskiers in the world. It hasn’t yet been skied by women. The aesthetics of the terrain are beautiful, but also challenging and requiring perfect conditions, Dyer said.

“It’s like waiting for the biggest wave in the world,” Dyer said. “It is truly like a magical wave you dream about and it doesn’t exist all the time.”

In some ways it’s been Dyer’s dream long before she even knew freeskiing existed.

Lynsey Dyer, a professional freeskier who lives in Jackson, skis in Retallack, Canada. (Photo courtesy Unicornpicnic Productions – click to enlarge).
Lynsey Dyer, a professional freeskier who lives in Jackson, skis in Retallack, Canada. (Photo courtesy Unicornpicnic Productions – click to enlarge).

Dyer started skiing professionally about 10 years ago. She grew up ski racing in Sun Valley, Idaho, won a junior Olympics, and when she was 16 years old was ranked No. 2 in the nation for the Super-G (giant slalom). Yet the competition was cutthroat and Dyer was more interested in skiing powder than racing. Dyer said she was a pleaser and did what she thought she was supposed to do; she went to school, got good grades, raced hard, then went to college on a ski scholarship, earned a prestigious internship in graphic design, and ultimately found herself unhappy.

She remembered what it was like attending those Warren Miller films. The audience was enthralled and inspired, and the people on screen picked their own lines down the mountain. They connected with friends and nature through skiing.

She started training again. Within two years she was in a Warren Miller movie, which lead to more films. Each day she’s filming she’s out doing what she loves best, but also pushing herself and taking risks to impress the audience.

“We know if we are not scared out there, it’s probably not going to look good on film,” she said.

Yet some of those lines and the risks Dyer took to execute them weren’t making films. She knew if it was happening to her it was happening to other women. Women compete for screen time with the men and the ski movie market is male-dominated, she said. Females don’t typically relate to ski movies.

Dyer wanted, and felt an obligation, to change that.

“If we put 10 percent of the energy that we put into worrying about how we look, or about the size of our thighs, and we put it toward the places and things that help us feel our best and come alive and remind us about what are here do – that could be a pivotal change for girls in general,” Dyer said. “That’s what skiing gave me when I was young – an opportunity to get away from that, worrying about how I looked and the social pressures and just worry for a little while about the mountain. (Skiing) is an incredible avenue to learn more about yourself and push yourself and find the greatest joy that I certainly have ever felt.”

The goal is to premier a 30-minute film in 2014 with screenings featuring panel discussions about women in skiing, Rood said. Extra footage will be used for web episodes, and Rood hopes the movie is the first of many to come.

“It’s not over once the film is made,” Rood said. “In fact, that’s where it begins.”

— “Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at Follow her on twitter: @Kelsey_Dayton

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Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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