How To Be A Ski Model

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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.

Back in the day… photo by Mark Maziarz

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.

When you just can't take it anymore, you lie down and reevaluate your priorities
Photo by Ryan Freitas

Dreams Change

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.

 

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2 comments

  • You’ve always been a pretty skier, mountain athlete, actress, broadcaster, great mom, valued product reviewer AND model skier to me … that’s what I’ve always told anyone that should know.
    And always a friend.

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