It’s that time of year again – no, not fall, it’s ski movie season. All the well-known names in the industry are releasing their films just in time to amp you up for winter. Living in ski utopia, Utah I’m able to catch premiers from the biggest names in the biz – including Teton Gravity Research’s Rogue Elements.
Of all the premiers, this is was the one I was looking forward to most because, when compared to the trailers of other films launching this season, it appears to feature the most women (who also happen to be some of my favorite pro skiers) – Angel Collinson, Elyse Saugstad, and Hadley Hammer.
Rogue Elements opens with a handful of sick lines by Angel, which naturally heightened my stoke levels and offered a false hope that this ski film would be different; that it would have a bigger female influence. However, it quickly cuts to her brother, Johnny, a segment that quadruples hers in length.
Angel’s part is further drowned out by more and more men.
At one point, my boyfriend turns to me and says, “This is cool and all, but really, where the eff are the women?!”
The film brings us to Bolivia and we watch Hadley Hammer, alongside a couple of dudes, trying to find some snow to rip. When they finally find a stash, Hadley is shown taking maybe two turns then cut. Yeah, maybe she fell, but why bother showing her drop in at all? Why not replace it with another part? This girl shreds, so it shouldn’t be hard to find another way to incorporate her talent. Hadley is not featured in the rest of the film.
Rogue Elements ends on a good note – with Elyse Saugstad stickin’ it to them in Chatter Creek. Her line is arguably the best of the group (all male, by the way).
My disappointment in the lack of female presence in Rogue Elements was elevated by REI’s partnership with TGR and presenting the film at its numerous tour stops across the nation. REI received an overwhelming amount of praise for their revolutionary Force of Nature campaign this year, an initiative claiming to be fully dedicated to making the outdoors the “largest level playing field” for men and women. To be frank, this film does a shitty job of supporting their goal and makes me question REI’s actual commitment to women – something I have debated in the past.
But Rogue Elements is not the only problematic ski film – Matchstick Productions’ Drop Everything, Good Company’s Guest List, Faction Ski’s This is Home, among others all have a minimal female presence. MSP even jokes in the Drop Everything trailer that the film features “100% more ripping women,” then cuts to Elyse Saugstad and Michelle Parker while the narrator clarifies, condescendingly, “TWO.”
The staggering majority of names appearing on the “cast” lists are male; you’ll be lucky to see even two women mentioned. Then when it comes to the actual movie, those two ladies’ have about 1-4 minutes of airtime, combined.
I want to say that I get it, your target audience is men and this is a marketing tactic to reach them.
But I actually, really, don’t get it, because when it comes to who skis, women are not just some speck on the radar.
According to Snowsports Industries America (SIA) 2015 consumer profile report, which examines participation in snow sports every year, 39% of participants are female. Sure, it isn’t the majority but I think this almost 40% of women skiers, snowboarders, etc. deserve a similar percentage of female representation in ski and snowboard films. Also, it’s worth noting this referenced report is from two seasons ago and that percentage has undoubtedly increased.
And it’s not just men watching these films. I don’t think it would be way off base to estimate an equal amount of women were in the audience at the Rogue Elements Salt Lake City premiere.
If ski companies want to argue that money talks and the money is where the men are, then they’re not paying attention. “Women count for 63 percent of the spending on activewear in the U.S.” (Outside Magazine). In the 2014-2015 winter season, women products made up 31% of snow sports brands’ sales, totaling a whopping $1.4 billion. (Outside Magazine). So please don’t tell me there isn’t any financial benefit to adjusting your audience to include women.
Maybe the issue lies in the audience too. Men should be more vocal about wanting equality in our ski films. If I, as a woman, have to sit through an immeasurable amount of material of men shredding, I think men can endure sitting through a film featuring a female-heavy cast – and yet, the idea of a predominantly-female ski film seems so far-fetched. It’s almost 2018, can’t we just be equals already?
And if ski film production companies blame it on lack of talent, then I invite them to grab a pen and paper – Angel Collinson, Elyse Saugstad, Hadley Hammer, Lynsey Dyer, Caroline Gleich, Michelle Parker, Amie Engerbretson, McKenna Peterson, and Maggie Voisin are just a handful of names from the top of my head, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of badass lady shredders out there and doesn’t even include the women who ride one plank, not two.
It doesn’t seem right that we have to ask these companies to be less sexist, but change can only be derived from action…
- Stop giving these companies money; don’t purchase tickets for the premieres.
- Or if you’re feeling bold, do attend the premiere and ask, in person: where are the women?
- Get active on social; Tweet, Instagram, and Facebook comment or message these companies to say you want to see more women in their films.
- Support your lady shredders and follow them on social media; more clout means can lead to more features in films.
- Support companies that support women, like Coalition Snow, SheJumps, and Wylder Goods. They’re not pushing out ski edits, but they are organizations and businesses dedicated to empowering and equipping women in the outdoors.
While gender equality in the ski industry has progressed significantly over the past few years, we still have a mountain to climb and a glass ceiling to break. It’s easy to get lost in the fun, but it’s important to stay aware, stay active, and stay vocal about the issues. Sure, it’s just a light-hearted ski movie, and you could argue I’m overanalyzing and taking it too seriously – but little things become big things, and quite frankly, I want to live in a world where an all-female ski movie is the norm.
Do you think the underrepresentation of females in ski films is a problem? Feel free to discuss in the comments.