How To Be A Ski Model
I have a secret. It’s more like a confession. I always wanted to be a ski model. I began taking ski lessons when I was 6 and because my family had a condo in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., we skied at least 20 days a season. I grew up idolizing those iconic skiers of the 90s and wishing I too had a cover shot in Powder or Skiing.
One day, while living and working in Aspen, Colo., I spied a group of one-piece clad chicks waiting on top of a mound of snow for a photographer below to signal to them. I watched them turn. They all sucked. So I skied up to the shooter and introduced myself. Soon I was hiking in a one-piece at 7 a.m. to get that perfect shot.
And I actually did it; convinced professional photographers to take my picture skiing; for a little bit. I did everything I could to meet the top sports action photographers in Utah and convince them to shoot me. After all, they didn’t have to pay me (it’s rare that a photographer pays their ski models) and I was willing to show up at first light and hike my butt off for that one turn wonder. I had a fun attitude, a decent sense of humor and a flexible schedule. Plus I was reliable. All I asked for were copies of the shoot (which most of the time I didn’t get). Some refused to even return my calls but a handful were terrific humans.
I was able to work with some amazing brands like Head and Obermeyer. But there was a little voice that made me feel like I was chasing a cab that didn’t notice my wave. Who was I kidding? I am a “pretty skier” but every time I had to step up for a blind launch off a cornice or wiggle through tight, steep trees, my stomach turned over. I feared that those around me would notice and that those not-so pretty skiers next to me took better pictures than I because they had bigger ugly balls. Still, I kept at it. I even wound up on a cover on #SnowcountryMagazine that my mom had permaplaqued. I got free gear, made great friends (Rich Cheski, Sherri Harkin, Rachael Hodson) but after 10 years, it was still me hustling and hucking for no pay and no workers comp.
I would wake up at 6 in the morning, check to see if the skies were blue and call down my list of photographers to see if they were going out to shoot. I would head out before the lifts opened, suit up in the clothes and gear that were given to me, hike (a lot), make a turn or two for the camera, then hike back to the spot and do it again. Be done by lunch. I had routinely given up epic powder days for this.
Then one day a light bulb went on. How could I be depressed about skiing every sunny day? I had begun to doubt my talent. I needed a photog to want to shoot me to prove to myself that I was a good skier! If I heard that other people were shooting but no one called me, it hurt my feelings. Fomo would set in.
And just like that I stopped making those phone calls, hunting for outside validation, and trying to stroke my ego. Instead, I focused on sharing my passion with others through writing and teaching; I nailed my PSIA level 3 cert. Bluebird days were for skiing not shooting. I didn’t go home deflated or sore. I went home knowing that I had a little money in the bank and had turned more people into skiers. I loved skiing again.
Ski Model FOMO Still Exists
I wish I could say that I don’t care if I ever shoot. But the truth is, I enjoy being in front of the camera whether it’s on the hill or on set. I’m sure I’ll throw a mini pity party for myself if I miss out. Operative word being ‘mini’. I don’t have to have it all. Or at least I remind myself of that. LOL.
When something you love starts twisting you up inside and the long game doesn’t exist, you evolve. You aren’t quitting on a dream, you’re just realizing that your dream was flawed and needs tweaking.
Yesterday, while wrapping up a lesson at the base of Park City Mountain, a woman skied past me and said, “I just loved watching you in the bumps off Thaynes.” The irony was that I didn’t know anyone was watching me. I was just doing my thing and loving every minute of it.