skiing is what we need

From our first pair of pink Corvus skis in 2006 to the first sponsored ambassador Marja Person, blackcrows is dedicated to provide all skiers with tools and platforms to express themselves and their wild side. ​

No need to slow down, let’s jump cliffs, carve big turns, get stoked, and have fun on the snow all together. On international women’s day and every single day.​

For this blackmail, we got together with some of our favorite woman ambassadors, and got to talk skiing stance and favorite winter adventures.

Flowers? Yes please, but not today, skiing is what we need.

blackcrows: How do you feel about international women’s day, as a skier?

Kajsa Larsson: I have very ambiguous feelings about this, I would pick another day for this and what I think most brands don’t realize is that “female-marketing” has to be fully integrated into the day-to-day all year round marketing for us to feel fully and genuinely stoked to be highlighted. If it’s just a one-off, I most of the time feel like an object being used to show “Look how good we are,” and in reality, you were the only female invited in the buys club kind of feeling. SO sometimes, it works mega, sometimes not so much.

photo @laylakerley

Rio Pedersen: My favorite part is seeing stories of all the badass women out there and how many inspiring women are in peoples’ lives. It’s a nice ode to women but sometimes feels very forced. Ideally, there is a year-round equal representation (especially in the ski industry).

Minna Riihimaki: I think that it’s important to promote equality and drive down any discrimination; equal performance should be rewarded in the same way for a woman and a man.
Sport encourages women to lead, and not just when practicing, but also in everyday life.  This special day is an opportunity to highlight strong and successful women who can become examples and inspire others.

photo @laylakerley

Michelle Parker: I love celebrating women and lifting other women up every day, but dedicating a specific day to it feels well deserved and worthy of celebrating.

Giulia Monego: It’s an occasion to go skiing with my girlfriends!

Gabby Palko: I’m not one for these memorializing holidays unless they’re backed by substance- women still face so many challenges and discriminations living in a man’s world. It’s definitely better timing living as a woman than any other time in history but that’s only because of the women that came before us that stopped taking shit and did something about it- so as long as they are memorialized and celebrated and there is continued change towards equality, then I stand behind it.

Celeste Pomerantz: Honestly, I never used to give much thought into international women’s day growing up. But now as an athlete and as someone who hopefully is helping with this push for female representation in the sport, it is an important day.

blackcrows: Can you tell us about your most challenging snow adventure, and what did you learn?

Kajsa Larsson: I bet the most challenging day on the mountain was my first time heading on a more extended ski tour with three experienced guys in the Norwegian mountains. Back in the day before lighter skis, tour bindings, and walk mode. I seriously used all my power to keep up with the fast Norwegians, even though I had a big smile on my face, damn my body was hurting, also I ended the adventure with a big crash down the mountain we went there to ski. But I did learn a lot during that trip.

photo @laylakerley

Rio Pedersen: Last winter I skied a local line called the Sickle (Sawtooths) and it was so steep and so skinny. Booting up it was terrifyingly vertical but there really wasn’t an option to turn around before the top. I’ve learned to trust my capabilities and decision-making. I learned that I can do things I wholeheartedly believed were impossible (the sickle was the second line I’ve skied that I previously looked at and said/thought “I will never do that”)

Minna Riihimaki: It’s hard to pick one example but probably the most challenging adventure that I am proud of is the first female ski descent of the famous Frendo Spur in the North face of Aiguille de Midi, in 2013.  I was with 4 friends, all men, my longtime ski partners.
We had been hoping for the precedent few days that the face will get in good conditions and that day, everything aligned.  5 of us gathered up and were in the first bin, we skied down the ridge and had a group check at the bottom. The decision of going down the Frendo was easy to make, we were all in good shape and spirit, had the necessary gear, and agreed that the conditions looked optimal.  And they were.
For me, that day, there was no difference between being a man or a woman.  Mutual trust and understanding were the guaranties of an enjoyable and memorable day. I am always grateful for sharing these adventures with my (male) friends and that day was a demonstration that gender doesn’t matter, it’s about skills that every member brings in to make a complete and functional team.

photo @aaronrolph

Michelle Parker: I think that my most challenging adventure on snow was probably our Denali expedition, specifically the very last day when we left 14 camps and made our way off the mountain. The conditions were breakable crust and we had 100 lbs of gear each to carry off the mountain which was melting, crevasses everywhere, and a high likelihood of injury. On that day, I learned the importance of having a solid team with good group dynamics. It made a really long and difficult day really special and memorable.

Liv Sansoz: It’s not about the most challenging day but about a day where I learnt a lot.
We were filming with two other pro skiers, one was a ski instructor, both male. I was not a mountain guide and had no “official” qualifications on snow other than my own experience.
We arrived later than planned at the base of the couloir we were supposed to boot up and ski down and the sun was already heating the top part of the couloir on its west aspect.
I told the guys we were too late and temperatures were high and we should stop and speak about the option. For them, there was no problem at all. They were so sure of them that I thought I was making a wrong estimation of the situation.
We all went and started to boot up. While I was breaking the trail, I heard the noise of the snow. A small avalanche came super fast on us. I was pulled down the couloir, totally covered by the snow. Thankfully it was not too thick and I got out. The other guys just below me were out as well and the third one who was much lower was pulled all the way down but could get out by himself. We were lucky the quantity of snow was not bigger and that there were no rocks or small cliff bands. From that day on, I decided to always trust my instinct even if I was with well-experienced men or women (or I’m thinking they are better skilled than me).

photo @fabian_bodet

Giulia Monego: I surely had a lot of adventures on the snow but maybe the most challenging was a rescue of a girl that got injured in a 6000m peak in Bolivia; Illimani. Me and my friend switched our goal to reach and ski from the summit, to rescue and save this girl’s life. it was tough and mentally draining, but we succeed in the end, so it was well rewarded. I learned a lot of things and a lot of rescue strategies.

Gabby Palko: Last season I had a shoot lined up with a photographer who came from very far away and conditions were absolutely terrible- wind-scoured and -25F, -31C without wind chill. There were no skiers out at all it was so bad, but we were compelled to get certain shots so still went out. it was so painfully cold I suffered frostbite on my feet and could barely descend- my body felt like it was shutting down completely. We were shooting apparel for another brand and the clothes weren’t even warm enough for the conditions. now I have permanent tissue damage from that day. I think as a woman I feel certain pressures to perform, to tough things out as to not be seen as weak, but now I feel no need to go out in conditions I don’t feel safe or comfortable in regardless of the job. Also- to work with more female photographers.

photo @matthew_tufts

blackcrows: Is there such a thing as a female skiing community?

Rio Pedersen: There are small groups such as Slut Strand Society, Womb tang, and others that have created a female-identifying comradery in the world of skiing. They’re kind of taking back the notion that women are only on the hill to be snow bunnies and look cute. Yes, I still want to look cute but that doesn’t detract from my ability.

Leoni Zopp: There is for sure. Most of the time I only ski with boys because in Andermatt there are not many girls who love skiing as much as I do, but even though I can’t ski with my favorite female skiers I still get inspired by them daily. That’s one of the good parts that we have phones and social media. The girl’s community is now growing as there are so many badass girls out there. Back in the days, there were some really inspiring women too but the system didn’t allow them to show their potential, because of them we have it so much easier today. The Birdie Line from Black crows is also one of the reasons why girls can be badasses:  having the right equipment is essential and black crows realized that girls can ski too so they made the perfect skis for us (not like ski boot company having boots for us with a flex of 90!).

Minna Riihimaki: Diversity should be part of any community and mixing genders is part of it.  Skiing is for all, and I think that the ski experience is richer when men and women share it together.  The most important condition within a community is having a certain number of attitudes and interests in common, despite the gender.
Of course, women skiers can support and encourage each other mutually within a female group, just as men can do too, but without segregation of different communities.
It’s good and necessary to take action so that everyone can learn to feel comfortable in this skiing community. Probably for many women the threshold seems high for entering the skiing or mountain environment, dominated by men. The special actions just for women can make this threshold lower, give confidence to women and encourage them to participate and enter the common community of skiers. And this community has space for more women to enter!

photo @aaronrolph

Liv Sansoz: I see a lot of respect and sorority between women especially when they are engaged in a high-level approach. The youngest generation of women is giving more support to each other nowadays than before. It’s something more natural or easier to do. Because there are more women now with a high-level approach than before. And because social media are here, they encourage positive acts and nice behaviors.

photo @laylakerley

Gabby Palko: most of my life has been being “one of the boys”— chasing dad, brother, guy friends down the mountain. Learning from guide boyfriends, hut trips with guy friends, etc. when you rip with your girls, there’s nothing like it. I found my first best ski girlfriend in college, she’s from Montana and was a badass skier and person- but would also be just as willing to call it a day if we were too tired or cold and instead go get a latte or glass of wine and snuggle. She also ripped bigger and badder lines than most of our guy friends. Now I still look for great girl ski partners and as I age I realize that working with women is often way better than working with guys. Less ego.
Despite some incredible ski days last year, still my most memorable day is a “girls ski day” I had with three friends in the spring- it was so hot (April) and we were the only people in the zone (so we thought) so we basically all stripped down and skinned in our underwear. suddenly a group of ten dudes emerged who’d been dropped off by a helicopter and came down right past us and nearly all crashed when they caught sight of us- it was hilarious. That was the most fun day of my season last year.
Any woman skiing on the mountain is a good thing. They don’t have to be a certain level of “badass” or “ripper” or anything- there is room for all the flirty and fun and casual and sexy and beginner and fair weather skiers. It’s about having fun. Empowering girls to challenge themselves is a great thing but also no need to compete with the boys or be tough for the sake of being tough- just be yourself and that’ll come out on the mountain.
Unfortunately, I think women can be highly competitive and territorial in the ski/outdoors world because it’s so male-dominated and there seem to be limited slots for us. This is something I would like to dispel.

photo @laylakerley

blackcrows: What does freedom mean to you? Does it imply a pair of skis?

Kajsa Larsson: I would put freedom into a bigger context than just a pair of skis. Freedom comes with a remarkable unique sense of time perspective, a day of freedom can feel lite an eternity, and that moment is the only thing that matters.

Rio Pedersen: To me, freedom is having no shackles of expectation.  Skiing is definitely a medium of freedom; nature, snow, and mountains harbor no expectations.

Minna Riihimaki: As mountains are my passion, skiing strongly contributes to the sense of freedom.  I feel like the greatest freedom appears when I get out of my comfort zone, accepting a challenge and reality of potential danger but still being in control and remembering my limits and of course, having fun.

Leoni Zopp: I won’t get any closer to freedom than smashing a line I had in mind or stomping a cliff. Freedom means being the truest self and that happens when I step into my binding.

photo @myshellparker

Michelle Parker: Freedom, to me, is being free of thoughts and distractions, being completely present in my environment, who I am with, and what I am doing. That feels like the most freeing thing in the world to me and this usually happens every time I go skiing. It’s this feeling that I am addicted to and constantly chase. Skiing happens to be my vehicle to freedom.

photo @bjarnesalen

Liv Sansoz: Freedom is speed, wind in the hair and not wanting to stop. And yes it implies a pair of skis! Freedom is doing what you love the way you want it. It’s being independent and actor of your life the way you imagine it.

photo @laylakerley

Giulia Monego: In the mountains, I feel away from the constraints of everyday life, of rules. In the mountains, I can make my own choices and the only rules I have to follow are the ones of mother nature. To move in the mountains the best way is with a pair of skis under my feet, so yes I associate freedom a lot with skiing, but not only.

photo @laylakerley

Celeste Pomerantz: Freedom for me is both a feeling as well as a physical situation. For me, freedom is that unbridled feeling of being utterly disconnected from time while enjoying the outdoors. This absolutely implies a pair of skis. Going fast down mountains in any format is freedom.

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