Where Are the Women? Pretty Faces Teaser

Feature photo Top of the world, somewhere in Alaska. Photo by Scott Dickerson.

I have attended the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival each year since 2007, save for one year when I was trekking through Nepal. Being the biggest film fest of its kind in the world, the Banff Festival offers a good barometer on a variety of industries, mainly outdoor gear, adventure film, sponsored athletics and publishing. I know for a fact that despite the considerable presence of women in sports, including skiing, they are poorly represented in most of these industries. Ski and snowboard films may show a ‘token female’, but otherwise women are usually left out of the picture.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. It isn’t an accurate representation, for one. It also leaves young girls without positive female role models in the area of outdoor sports, which promotes healthy body image, good self-esteem, and a ‘can do’ attitude. Instead these girls are left flipping through magazines and observing the lives of celebrities as if their representation in the media is actually true. As the mother of a young daughter, I hope she grows up to be inspired by women in a variety of arenas. She doesn’t need to admire them – that can often lead to comparison and a feeling of inferiority – but I do hope she sees all the possibilities for her future.

Lynsey Dyer has created a ski film about women called Pretty Faces, produced by Unicorn Picnic, with the goal of inspiring “girls of all ages to pursue their dreams, walk the path less traveled, and reach their fullest potential, whatever path they choose” (a quote from their Kickstarter campaign). Their Kickstarter campaign also offers some interesting statistics. Despite women’s presence in about 40% of the skiing population and about 30% of adventure sports film viewership, only 14% of athletes in major ski films were female this past season. Of most interest to me, they also say that many girls drop out of sports around the age of 11-15 years. These young teen years are so vulnerable for girls, and if we can give them positive female role models to look up to, I hope they’ll be inspired to stay active and healthy through sports (whatever those sports may be).

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the title of the film, Pretty Faces. I get it: it’s a play on words, describing the mountain faces these women are skiing. But take a good look at the teaser of the film and you’ll see a bunch of, well, pretty faces. Does it take good looks to also be successful in your industry or sport? Or to make it into a ski film? Do we need beauty to sell even the concept of women being capable and feeling empowered? Beauty is a powerful, wonderful thing. But I fear we’re walking down the same worn path if it is being used once again to sell an idea and give it legitimacy.

I’m of course pleased to see an all-women ski film on the film circuit, and I’m all for the goal of inspiring young girls. I hope it has the positive impact the producers are looking for. I hope it comes to the Banff Festival so that the crowd here can benefit from seeing more women represented. Finally, I hope the trend continues and that this is just the beginning.

For more information, head on over to Unicorn Picnic.

Check out the trailer here:

Skiing into the Sky

Not much to say today other than the fact that there’s nothing quite like a warm Summer’s day here in the Rockies, but a close second is a warm Winter’s day. Taken yesterday as we skied up the backside of Sulphur. The bobsleigh run down was worth the 4-hour climb with snow sticking to the bottom of our skis.

The old Fire Road on Sulphur Mountain in Banff gets you up high and into the sunshine. Photo: Meghan J. Ward

A Lesson in Endurance (Yoga Challenge: Day 16)

Today I learned another lesson in endurance.

I took a rest day today to go ski touring on one of the most beautiful winter days I have ever seen in The Rockies. It wasn’t much of a rest day for the body, but it felt great to get outside.

Who wouldn't pass up a day like this? Skiing across Peyto Lake towards the Peyto Glacier.

We were touring today to Peyto Hut on the Wapta Icefield, about a 10km trek in with overnight packs (and an elevation gain of over 500m). Lately, avalanche conditions have been rather ugly around here and while we hoped we would find safe passage to the hut, we did not. On top of it all, it was -30 degrees Celsius, and as we deliberated about whether or not we should continue, my body began to shake to fight off the cold. We ended up retreating back the way we came. All in all, we were out in the cold for about six hours.

Now, if there is a “Child’s Pose” of alpine ski touring it looks something like this: while standing, bend over with straight legs and position your poles in front of you so that you can actually rest your pack on the tops of your poles, allowing you to stretch out your back, neck and shoulders. This was my best friend today (it really works!) Needless to say, it was a beautiful but rough day in the outdoors.

Lesson from Day 16

I missed the yoga studio today – the warmth, candles, comfort. But as I stood outside in the cold, a few kilometres from the highway, I was thankful for the lesson in endurance that yoga has taught me through this challenge.

Forcing myself to do that extra sun salutation or hold a posture for an extra breath doesn’t sound like it comes close to a long ski out in the elements.But, the internal journey is truly the same.

Where has your internal journey taken you lately?

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Guide to Ski Rentals in Banff

So, you want to come to Banff but don’t want to lug your ski gear around.

With all of the other inconveniences we face now at airports, why add another one? Not to worry – you’re well taken care of in this ski town.

Whether you need a full set up or just a tune up, Banff has it’s fair share of ski and snowboard rental shops and custom boot fittings. You’ll be hitting the slopes in no time.

Need to Rent Ski or Snowboard Gear?

Check out one of these options for ski rentals and fittings in Banff:

Abominable Sports

229 Banff Avenue

Abonimable specializes in fitting and renting ski equipment. They know that when you are looking to hire ski gear, you’re looking for quality gear at affordable prices. Their friendly and knowledgeable will make sure your ski rental experience is hassle-free so you can spend more time out on the slopes.

Banff Ski Hub: Ski Banff -Lake Louise- Sunshine Tri Area Rentals

114 Banff Avenue

The Ski Hub is your one-stop shop for all things ski and snowboard. Here you can buy lift tickets for all three ski hills, rent equipment, sign up for ski lessons, seasons passes and purchase merchandise.

Banff Springs Ski Shop

Conference Centre at the Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Avenue

If you’re staying at the Banff Springs Hotel, this ski shop is located right on site and offers a convenient way to get your ski gear.

Ultimate Ski & Ride

206 Banff Avenue

This shop rents both ski and snowboard gear, offers tune ups and fittings and has high end ski apparel to keep you warm on the slopes.

The Ski Stop and Soul Fit Centre

203A Bear Street

This shop rents gear and is especially known for its customized boot fittings. Be sure to head here if your boots are rubbing or if you’re getting cold toes on the hill.

SNOWTIPS – Bactrax

225 Bear Street

This is one of Banff’s biggest rental stores specializing in ski,  snowboard and mountain bike rentals.

Rude Boys

215 Banff Avenue, 203 Wolf Street

Rude Boys now has two locations, one in Sundance Mall and the other on Wolf Street. They rent snowboards only.

Wilson Mountain Sports

Samson Mall, Lake Louise

This is a great option if you are staying in Lake Louise. Check out Wilson’s for your rental needs, located at Samson Mall in the Lake Louise Village.

Rentals at Local Ski Area

Lake Louise Ski Area

Banff Mt. Norquay

Sunshine Village

A Few Tips

*Many snowboard and ski rental stores turn into bike rental stores in summer, so be sure to inquire about their other options.

*A few ski rental stores also rent out alpine touring gear. If you’ve ever wanted to try the sport, this is a great way to try before you buy. Be sure to head out with an experienced backcountry skier and avalanche safety equipment.

*Even if you bring your own gear, Banff’s rental shops are highly specialized with tunings and boot fittings. It’s worth the time and money to get a good fit even if you’ve brought your own gear to use on the slopes.

*Some rental shops will deliver your ski gear to your hotel – be sure to ask about that.

*Many ski rental locations also rent out cross-country skis and snowshoes if you’re looking to enjoy the snow in a different way.

Did I miss one? Just comment and let me know! Thanks for sharing your local insights.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.