The video profile on Grete Eliassen by Teton Gravity Research inspired us to put up the interview with her that we had in the print mag last winter, so enjoy!
Grete Eliassen is without a doubt one of the most inspirational female skiers out there. At the age of 23 she’s got a solid lump of gold in her back pocket (back to back medals at the X Games and US Opens), several signature pro-model skis and now her very own high definition all women ski movie, Say My Name. Far from being just a pretty face on the front of someone else’s film, Say My Name was painstakingly co-produced by the star of the show herself. We caught up with Grete during her short summer chill out at her parent’s house in Minnesota, to talk about the film, her mission to change the face of women’s skiing and that record-breaking 31-foot jump.
Interview by Posy Dixon, photos by Stan Evans
Say My Name is very much your film, the Grete Eliassen project, what was it that made you want to take on such an endeavour?
Say My Name is all about pushing the limits of skiing. Progression has always been my favourite part of skiing and I think in order to push things you have to differentiate yourself from the other female riders, so that’s what I’ve done. In the film I built a giant hip with Red Bull in the Canyons and it was all about just me going as big a possible, just flying on skis to 31 feet. That’s really what the movie is about, me and six other girls, pushing the limits of women’s skiing.
How did you manage to make that dream project a reality?
I guess I finally got to the point in my career where I had the resources and support from my sponsors to make the movie, so I got a film crew together with Stan Evans and Jeremy Miller – as they’d made a women’s snowboard movie before, and we all thought the scene really needed this to happen, women’s skiing and skiing in general really needed a women’s film. So for the last few years we’ve been working hard, getting out in the back country, building jumps, just working as a crew and giving it our best.
Did you feel under a lot of pressure taking on such a big project?
Oh yeah, taking any kind of project to this calibre is a huge pressure, and I felt responsible to prove the level of skiing that women can do, I also had to organise everything, sort calendars, book tickets and always be the one that had to make it come together. The experience actually enabled me to try different avenues of the sport, the business side, learning how to get a message out there.
Were you riding with the other girls in the film much or were you filming solo?
I did a lot of filming on my own, the first year it was basically just me and a couple of other girls because it was so early on in the project that we were just trying to get the ball rolling. The sponsors came later, once it was all set up and they saw this amazing thing we had going on and wanted to support what we were doing. So the last year was more when I got to be skiing with the other girls, and that was my favourite part you know just going out in the backcountry, taking out sleds, finding our spots, building our jumps or picking our lines. Because usually you just tail along with the guys but this time is was just us, doing it on our own with the girls.
Was it hard riding on your own – judging new hits without other people?
Sure, hitting any type of feature by yourself is really hard, usually you have a friend or someone who pumps you up and you battle between each other while you do it. So like building that massive hip, I mean I invited people to come do it but no one wanted to, so it ended up just me and this jump! But I felt confident about the hip and on the day I had my brother and sister and the crew and a bunch of friends there for support so it didn’t feel like I was alone, it was just me competing against myself like I always do.
How do you deal with “the fear” when you’re out their pushing your limits?
When I go out to the backcountry I’m the one who picks out where I want to ski and I pick lines that I think are totally possible, then when I’m on top I know that if everything goes right I can make it down. So I guess I challenge fear by being confident in the fact that I chose this spot so I can make it down. I never do something unless I know there’s a 99% chance that I’m going to make it down, so I guess my confidence really comes from the experience of skiing for so many years.
Were you involved with cutting the movie as well as organising it?
I’ve always liked the aspect of watching footage and seeing things put together, but as for sitting in a dark room, in an editing suite? To me I’m already on my computer enough on Facebook and Twitter. I’d rather be outside doing stuff in the field, I like the background of organising stuff and getting things together but not necessarily the editing part so much.
So what’s happening when the film comes out, is everyone at your school stoked to see it? (Grete also finds time to attend the University of Utah).
Yeah, we’re going to have a few premiers across America, the first in Salt Lake City. And yeah, everyone at school’s stoked, I mean even last year when they’d seen the trailer, the teachers were like “wow Grete, we knew you did the X Games and stuff but we had no idea you were such a big backcountry skier too”, so yeah, I’m really excited to finally show my perspective of skiing to the rest of the world.