Girls ski too, you know. But when it comes to action sports movies, that fact isn’t always made clear. Big-mountain pro skier Lynsey Dyer aims to change that by making a film of her own. With the ambitious goal of inspiring more women to take on steep alpine terrain, she’s putting together an all-star team of female athletes for the creation of a high-impact feature called Pretty Faces. Dyer wants audiences to realize that women skiers have much more to offer and experience than meets the eye.
After a lifetime of skiing both as a competitor and in big budget films, Dyer has come to realize that women are seldom portrayed as skilled and talented athletes. Despite composing more than 40 percent of the skiing public and 30 percent of adventure film viewers, she estimates that women represent less than 14 percent of riders in action movies that help to drive a multi-billion dollar skiing industry. With few visible role models on the big screen to fuel their interest in the sport, Dyer is concerned that girls will miss out on the rewards of backcountry skiing. She hopes to present an image of strong and powerful women who ski with same passion as men—and perhaps redefine the beauty of high-speed downhill descents and acrobatic ariel stunts.
Backed by supporters through the crowd-funding web site Kickstarter Dyer aims to raise $60,000 to make her dream film project a reality. With athletes advisers that include 2013 Powder Magazine female skier of the year Elyse Saugstad, ski mountaineer Ingrid Backstrom, and pro skier and founder of the online community FemaleWolfPack.com Rachel Burks, the crew of Pretty Faces features some of the best women in the sport and promises to showcase their talent in a style scarcely seen in movies today.
NGA: You’ve enjoyed a long career as a professional skier. Why is this film necessary?
Lynsey Dyer: I ski with girls. Every year they come home from college idolizing some new pop star. The message I see them getting is: You’re only as good as you look or how sexualized you can be. Skiing has done so much for me, and it’s given me so many opportunities to see from a whole different perspective and experience powder snow, to value myself for more than the outside world has told me I am as far as boys’ attention or any of that popularity stuff. Consider that one out of three girls has an eating disorder. Skiing gave me an outlet to get away from all that. I want to be able to give that back so that we can empower the next generation to fulfill their ultimate potential.
NGA: What are some of the obstacles getting in the way of more women appearing in big-mountain ski movies?
Dyer: The biggest obstacle is that no one has ever targeted women and girls for films. Everyone knows that women manage all the household money right now. They’re making all the household decisions, but yet the action sports world is still only targeting 26-year-old boys. We just feel that there’s this huge opportunity to take a different point of view and invite more women into the mountains. Essentially the only opportunity or exposure that girls have had in action sports films is how they might relate to or be marketed toward young dudes. Therefore you have to show up either as a dude in one of these films or you have to take your clothes off. The message is once again you’re only as valuable as you look regardless of your talent. So we want to create an alternative, where your talent and the connection you have to outdoors are what really matter.
NGA: How does media exposure influence the choices young girls and women make when it comes to deciding whether or not to take up skiing?
Dyer: Personally I think that the media has left them out. The media doesn’t necessarily speak to girls and women from a perspective they can relate to. First we need to let them know that it’s out there. I had a really good dad. and I had good parents who allowed me that experience. But that could be the job of media, to showcase what skiing can be. It’s doing a great job of that right now for men because that’s where most of the audience is. But a big part of this film is to create an educational tool to be able to take into schools to be used as inspiration and to show girls “look there’s more out there for you to know about.” Education is how we can make it happen.
NGA: What made you decide to take up big-mountain skiing?
Dyer: I have enjoyed the freedom of powder skiing since I was little. Throughout my life there’s been nothing that has ever come close to that experience. I’ve obviously built my whole life around it, just like the boys do. That’s special, and it’s magical, and nothing has ever touched it. It’s that connection with community. Free-falling down a powder field with all your close friends right next to you, right on the edge of control, there’s nothing better than that. I got that experience at a young age, and I want nothing more than to create that experience for others.
NGA: You are inviting women skiers out there to share they’re videos online through your website to create a montage of their experiences. How is that going so far?
Dyer: Absolutely! We’re getting great Go Pro footage in. Dad’s are sending us these high quality iPhone clips that perfectly capture moments that we can all related to and love. Anything that gets us together, outside, raises heart rates—I’m all for it. Keep them coming!
NGA: When this film comes out, what’s the plan? How will you use it to further the conversation about women in skiing?
Dyer: Of course we’ll be doing the regular ski film tour, but it’s a money thing. We’re hoping to excite more big sponsors to take this to a broader audience. Right now we’re focused on three big premieres in Salt Lake, in Seattle, and in the Boulder/Denver area. It’ll be an interactive tour that will have either a panel discussion or a workshop where we’re genuinely giving our audience an experience and getting them engaged. We want them to participate and we’re really excited about that.
You can help support Pretty Faces on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/188962949/pretty-faces-all-female-ski-and-adventure-sports-f
This story originally appeared in the National Geographic Adventure blog Beyond the Edge on January 3, 2014