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So much more than Pretty Faces

American freeskier Lynsey Dyer talks female empowerment



To hear it from American freeskier Lynsey Dyer, mountains bear a lot of resemblance to women.

"They're beautiful and moody and they change their mind a lot," Dyer told a packed house at the Garibaldi Lift Co. on March 6, to big laughs all around.

"But when they're good, they're so good that you would just make really poor life decisions to be around them."

Dyer has been around mountains her entire life.

During an interview with Naheed Henderson as part of the ongoing Mountain Story Live Interview Series at the GLC, Dyer recounted growing up in Sun Valley, Idaho in a family of skiers.

"The big expectation was to grow up in ski racing, and be good at ski racing, alongside of pleasing your family, pleasing your teachers, following the expected path," Dyer said.

"I was never super passionate about ski racing, but eventually I got good at it."

Dyer loved skiing, but the competitive aspect of ski racing turned her off of the sport.

"You start comparing yourself to others, and then all of a sudden you start to feel like your only value depends on how well you competed," she said.

"But my earliest memories were just this ultimate feeling of freedom, soaring down a powder field like, half out of control."

It was Dyer's cousin AJ Cargill who introduced her to the world of freeskiing, after "kidnapping" her and taking her to a competition at Red Mountain.

"It was the first time that I could ski and be judged on more than just who gets down the fastest," she said.

"You're judged on your creativity. You get to pick your line and you get to work with the mountain, and so all of a sudden it was like... the playground was just expanded, and I ended up winning that competition and then winning all the rest that year."

While ski racing taught Dyer structure and discipline, her transition into freeskiing was a revelation.

"I was really thankful to have that structure, but once I finally got the opportunity to expand and use the other skills that I had, as far as just looking at a mountain and getting to find my own way down, ... it's just so much more fun," she said.

"It opened up this beautiful new community that, to me, felt more soul-based, and people doing it because they loved it."

These days, Dyer has become something of a role model for female skiers everywhere.

Her new ski-film Pretty Faces features an all-female cast, and she's also the founder of the tax-exempt organization She Jumps — the goal of which is to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities.

"Statistically, we find that women do want more adventure in their life, but typically it's only their boyfriends or husbands that are going out there, and they don't want to hold up the group or ask a dumb question or whatnot, so they tend to just be like, 'Well, I won't go, I'll go shopping,'" Dyer said.

"If we can just create a supportive community that offers them a space where it's OK to not be the best, and it's OK to fall on your face and it's OK to ask a dumb question, then we think we can get more women participating so that they can recognize all the benefits that the mountains have to offer us, which are ultimate empowerment."

She Jumps is also about showing what women are capable of in the mountains.

"It's that whole, 'hold my beer, watch this.' You know, you don't think girls can do this, but just give me a chance," Dyer said.

"I've definitely done things in that mentality, and aggression I think is a really powerful tool to bring into the mountains. I value it a lot, and now I know how to tap into it, and I want to teach other girls how to tap into that, like, find something you're angry about and use it, because the mountains are aggressive and they are trying to kill you."

Though Dyer has learned to harness her aggression, these days she says she's trying to come from a different energy, trusting her intuition.

"I didn't want to be called a girl, I didn't want to be called a pussy, and so I was so intent on just stepping up to whatever anyone suggested instead of maybe following what my intuition said," she said.

"That probably comes from an ego place, and eventually that didn't serve me and I got hurt, and I paid the price for it and had a lot of time to think about it.

"Through a lot of self-reflection, I've come to a place to realize that I love fear. We all do, that's why we're here."