Pretty Faces movie benefiting SheJumps in Saratoga Springs, NY

It’s been nearly a week since our showing of Pretty Faces in Saratoga Springs, NY, to benefit SheJumps, and I’m still riding on the high of it.

Until showtime on Saturday night, I wasn’t sure whether anyone except for me and the 20 friends I forced to attend would make it. So you can imagine my delight as I watched skier-girls of all ages mill into the auditorium. There were women my age looking to get involved with SheJumps, and there were itty bitty girls wearing costumes and great big smiles.

They filled my heart with joy as they stopped by the SheJumps table set up outside the theater, giggling at the girraficorn stickers and filling in the “#IAmSJ” placards with crayons and magic markers.

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The “#IAmSJ” hashtag answers the question: What is it about you that embodies the mission of SheJumps, the non-profit that aims to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities? I explained to the girls that it could also answer the questions: Why do you love to play outside? What is it about the outdoors that inspires you? Their answers blew me away.

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My favorite one: Because I am confident (in) who I am.

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Listening to all the giggles and “oohs” and “aahs” as the movie rolled was just the icing on the cake.

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If you haven’t already, please take two minutes to watch the trailer for the movie. I promise it will brighten your day.

 

 

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Pretty Faces tour coming to Saratoga Springs, NY!

When a video promo for Pretty Faces came up in my Facebook news feed one afternoon a couple years ago, I was riveted. I played it over and over, watching women dropping cliffs, shredding big lines, lifting hard and dancing with pure joy.

I figured the all-female ski movie from pro freeskier Lynsey Dyer would get made in a jiffy—after all, Dyer is a sponsored athlete who regularly appears in Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Project films, among others.

Two years, one big Kickstarter campaign and countless hours of work from Dyer and her team later, the movie debuted. In November, I drove to Burlington, Vt., to see its East Coast premiere. And I am beyond thrilled to announce that at 7 p.m. Saturday, it’s coming to Saratoga Springs, NY, thanks to the support of The Alpine Sport Shop and Skidmore College’s Ski and Snowsports Club. All proceeds will benefit SheJumps, a nonprofit which aims to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities.

Read about what it took to produce this gem of a movie in this ESPN story. Find more details about the Saratoga Springs showing on our Facebook page, which I’d be forever indebted if you’d share with anyone in the Saratoga Springs area. Learn about my impressions of the movie here, and read about my experiences as an ambassador for SheJumps here.

And below, enjoy a few behind-the-scenes shots of pre-movie preparations.

Trying on movie-night costume pieces at Sissi Boutique, one of our amazing sponsors.

Trying on movie-night costume pieces at Sissi Boutique, one of our amazing sponsors.

We have SUCH amazing sponsors! Including The Alpine Sport Shop, which made this movie possible, Gore Mountain, Saratoga Olive Oil Co., Northshire Bookstore SaratogaSissi Boutique and Violet’s of Saratoga have all generously donated raffle prizes.

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The table of raffle prizes is getting awfully full!

 

 

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4th Annual 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort

Every year, we’ve lucked out on weather for the 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Penn.

On Monday, our weather luck ran out, and when the 4th annual event began at 8 a.m., we skied into thick fog and wet, heavy snow. The freezing rain that began falling mid-day didn’t help matters.

Our participants handled the adverse conditions like true champs, maintaining good spirits by cheering each other on and keeping their focus on the purpose of the event: to raise funds for and awareness of Two Top Adaptive Sports Foundation. Though we had to call the event at 6 p.m. because of freezing rain and low visibility, we raised nearly $100,000 to help Two Top continue to provide adaptive ski and snowboard lessons to disabled athletes, making the event a huge success.

My team still managed to ski 80,000 vertical feet in the 10 hours we were on the hill, putting us well on pace to finish the 100K by the scheduled finish time. And we did it in style, with gold leggings, tutus and retro ski jackets.

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My friend Lauren and I started the day planning to split the 100K—107 runs at Whitetail—between the two of us. But when a patroller-friend donned the gold leggings and offered to ski a few runs for us, we happily took him up on it.

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The best part of the day was watching the half-dozen or so adaptive skiers participating in the event rack up runs for their teams. From a snowboarder with a traumatic brain injury to a sit-skier carving better turns than any non-adaptive skier on the mountain, they underscored the mission behind our madness: Creating more opportunities for more disabled athletes.

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To get an idea of the spirit of the day, check out Scott Broom’s report for WUSA9 News (you might just get a glimpse of yours truly—gold pants, tutu and all).

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Powder day at Gore (with an unlikely skiing partner)

I woke up last Monday missing my dad terribly.

On Sunday, a patroller-friend had turned me onto a bluegrass cover of one of my favorite songs, “Such Great Heights.” I listened to it over and over when I got home. Steve laughed as I danced around the room during the first playing or two, but his eyes started to glaze over when I asked him to listen closely to the banjo solo in the middle. I played the song for a few friends, too—they listened politely, then nodded and smiled when it was over.

See, my dad played the banjo. I grew up with him playing songs like “Has Anybody Seen My Gal,” ad libbing the words to make it about me: “Amy Sue; eyes of blue; could she, could she, could she coo.” Since he died in 2012, the banjo has sat on a shelf in my mom’s home in Florida. One day, I’d like to learn to play it. For now, it feels better that it’s there, as if some part of my brain thinks he’ll want to come back to play it.

Which brings me to Monday morning. As Steve and I collected our ski socks and radios and lunches to get ready to head to Gore that day, I wanted desperately to call my dad and play that song for him, turning up the volume on the banjo solo. I could practically hear him exclaim, “Wow!” and then start trying to figure out the chords on his own banjo. The fact that no one else in my life shared my enthusiasm underscored a wonderful and terrible fact: There will never again be anyone on this earth like my dad.

When we arrived at Gore, the song was still in my head. I made my first turns of the day to its rhythm, and I heard that banjo solo as we worked our way to the mountain’s summit. It had rained and sleeted the night before in Saratoga Springs, but on the mountain, it was a powder day. We helped to open Lies, one of Gore’s premier steeps, and got to make fresh tracks on its headwall with a layer of light, fluffy snow beneath us.

It was a gorgeous, perfect powder day—exactly the kind of day my dad would have loved.

It was a gorgeous, perfect powder day—exactly the kind of day my dad, one of the best skiers I’ve ever known,  would have loved.

I rode up the lift alone after that first run, still giggling and breathless from the glee of it all. I sighed happily, and was struck suddenly by the strong feeling that my dad was sitting on the lift next to me, smiling and exuding the same peaceful joy he did on the countless lift rides we enjoyed together while he was alive. I didn’t say anything, but just basked in his glow, afraid that if I moved or made a noise, I’d break the spell and he’d be gone.

Nothing broke the spell that day. I felt my dad’s presence with every turn, and as a result, felt an extra boost of calm and confidence: I picked better lines and turned more gracefully, as if I actually WAS him skiing.

Of course, this feeling made my heart ache with loss. But it also made my heart swell with the silent knowledge that as long as I’m here, and as long as I’m doing the things that brought us both joy while my dad was alive, he’s not really gone after all.

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She Jumps: Get the Girls Out at Berkshire East, ambassadorship

The She Jumps team was ready to board the lift at Berkshire East for our third annual Get the Girls Out event there on Jan. 9 when a woman and her pre-teen daughter approached us.

They wanted to participate, but mom was a new skier, and the instructor providing beginner lessons for the event had already headed out to ski. Could we help?

What happened next was emblematic of the spirit of the night, which involved glow-stick necklaces, girraficorn stickers and plenty of lady-shred pride among the three dozen participants.IMG-0716

We boarded the lift with the pair, and set out for a beginner trail. We gave mom some basic tips—press her shins into the front of her ski boots, and make turns to control her speed—and started down the mountain. Within a few turns, she was looking more confident and less tentative, and that progress continued until we reached the steepest section of the trail, where she stopped short, unsure of her next move.

“You got this,” I said, waiting above her. “You’re doing great.”

Slowly, she proceeded down the hill, shaky at first, but gaining strength as she neared the bottom. By the time she made her last turn, she was grinning ear-to-ear, having proven to herself in one small way that she was stronger and better than she had previously believed.10931383_10152729376453043_418237439374346678_n

I think that every skier and snowboarder who took part in the evening felt that same rush of joy, whether it was from learning a new skill or making a new friend. My joy came from serving as a She Jumps ambassador for the first time at an official She Jumps event. I learned that there’s only one thing better than taking part in a skier-girl dance party, and that’s helping to lead the skier-girl dance party.

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As an ambassador to this amazing nonprofit, which aims to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities, I’ll get to plan a few of my own events. Next up: I’ll be attending the Almost Full Moon Trek to Chocolate Decadence—a snowshoe/hike up Bromley, followed by a chocolate tasting at the top of the hill and a ski down. Stay tuned for details—I hope to see you all there!

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4th Annual 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort

On Feb. 9, I will again be part of a group of skiers and snowboarders who will descend 100,000 vertical feet in one day, or 107 runs at Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, PA. Our 12-plus-hour adventure aims to raise funds for and awareness of Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, which provides ski and snowboard lessons to disabled athletes—the majority of whom are wounded warriors from the Baltimore-Washington area.

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Participants in last year’s 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort.

Two Top provides ski and snowboard lessons to athletes with a wide range of disabilities, including many amputees and traumatic-brain-injury patients from Walter Reed, none of whom pay a dime for their lessons, meals and lodging.
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Army veteran Karl Dorman skiing in the last year’s 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort.

Since I first participated in the inaugural event in 2012 (and shared the story of my adventure here), the 100K has become an important funding source for Two Top, with last year’s event raising more than $75,000 for the organization.
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Participating in the 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail helps me pay forward my gratitude for happy homecomings like this one.

The event is especially meaningful to me because it allows me to express gratitude for the fact that Steve, and many of our other dear friends, have made it home from their deployments healthy and safe; for the sacrifices that our wounded warriors have made; and for the talented volunteers at Two Top offer these warriors a chance to experience the sense of freedom and peace that drive me to the slopes again and again.
Still smiling at the halfway point of the First Annual 100K Vertical Challenge at Whitetail Resort.

Still smiling at the halfway point of the First Annual 100K Vertical Challenge.

This year, I will be participating in the event as part of a team with three fellow ski patrollers, all of whom share my passion for Two Top and its mission. Together, we aim to raise $1,500 to help fund much-needed equipment purchases, and to help Two Top meet its goal of providing lessons for free to all participants. I so appreciate any support you can offer!

HOW TO DONATE:

You can support me by visiting my team page (https://www.twotop100k.org/riders/view/8/team-dyd).  Donations can also be made via check to: Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, Inc., 10914 Claylick Rd. Mercersburg, PA 17236.

Want to learn more about the 100K Vertical Challenge? Check out WUSA 9′s coverage of last year’s event—and watch for a cameo of yours truly.

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Happy holidays!

Wishing you light, love and adventure (plus at least a little bit of snow) in 2015!

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New York’s high peaks from Gore last weekend.

 

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