Teton Gravity Research’s Co-Lab video contest, where the next generation of athletes and filmmakers compete to win $100,000 with their best season edit, features nearly 40 participants. Out of those, Elyse Saugstad is the only female big mountain skier (and currently getting quite high in the rankings).
I had a chance to ask Elyse some questions and look into the male-dominated world of sports from her perspective:
Who has been inspirational to you? Both athletes and overall role models in and outside of the industry?
I generally find inspiration from other athletes when it comes to skiing, in other aspects of life I draw inspiration from a vast array of people. My list is fairly long because there are certain special qualities to each individual. That being said, a top few that immediately come to mind in regards to skiing are Rachael Burks, Jamie Burge, Ingrid Backstrom, Cody Townsend, Mark Abma, Chris Rubens, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Carissa Moore… seriously, give me 5 more minutes and this list exponentially grows.
Do you think you could be (are) a role model for other skiers (men, women, boys, girls alike)? Has anyone told you that you are?
I believe that if anyone exudes positivity they can be a role model in all facets of life. I like to think of myself as a positive person who is tenacious and with an ability to head up when obstacles are in my way. I have had a few young girls and women tell me that I am a role model for them, which is humbling beyond belief. It’s the nicest compliment anyone can give you.
What barriers do you think women have to participating in the sport and competitions, if any? Lack of leadership or awareness? It’s sad to see other pro skiers say ‘I didn’t know girls were allowed to enter’ — do you find that happens often?
There are plenty of barriers for women in sports and the underlying cause is that sports lie in a male dominated world. Sports are ultimately driven by the continual progression of performance, and ever since women threw their hats in the ring we’ve been playing catch up. It can be hard to gain the respect of men when we’re held to their performance standards- if even the top women are better than the average men. I believe that the more visibility women receive doing cool, inspirational things in whatever sport they are a part of the more young females will want to join and progress themselves. This is one of the reason’s why I am excited about being part of the Co-Lab contest- to hopefully demonstrate to other girls that we shouldn’t get hung up on whether or not we’re as good as the guys but rather there is no reason for us to not be included too. I couldn’t be more excited than just being a part of the competition and so far hanging in there in the voting!
On the flip side, the great thing about skiing is it is more than a sport but rather a lifestyle that builds strong, positive communities. There are plenty of females who are a part of the ski and snowboard communities regardless of whether or not they are worried about progressing the sport. So that in itself is a great achievement and it’s just a matter of the ski industry wanting to be more inclusive of women as well as giving us more support so we have more visible role models and leaders.
Go check out “Le Petit Ninja Skier”, a very strong ski segment, over at Teton Gravity Research’s Co-Lab and consider voting. It only takes 3 clicks to Connect to Facebook, save your name, and ‘Vote’ at the top of any entrant’s page. Thanks, Elyse!