Most of us are motivated to do something mainly because we simply love it. But often times there is someone we admire and are inspired by that encourages us to keep wanting to be better or do more. It’s not very often you get to personally chat with one of your idols and ask them what makes them tic. This last week I was fortunate enough to have some of Michelle Parker’s valuable time. Between Match Stick Production movie premiers and her endless active lifestyle, she answered some questions about herself, the ski industry and offered some key advice for any women wanting to try something new that scares them.
For those that aren’t familiar with the name Michelle Parker, here’s this fierce female in a nutshell. She is one hell of a skier, a RedBull & Mountain Hardwear athlete (official stamp of badass), appearing in over a dozen ski films, the latest being Fade To Winter (MSP). In 2013 she won Best Female Performance at the Powder Video Awards and at the International Freeski Film Festival for her segment in Matchstick Productions’ “Superheroes of Stoke.” She may be one of the world’s best skiers but she hasn’t forgotten to encourage the people that look up to her; she’s on the High Five Foundation‘s board and helped start up a women’s avalanche safety clinic; SAFE AS.
So here’s my short Michelle Parker interview. I think there is something everyone can take away, whether you’re a novice skier, expert skier or maybe not even a skier. Michelle offers some great advice about facing challenges and things that scare you, something that can be applied across multiple sports and every day life. Enjoy!
Please provide a brief description of yourself and two truths and a lie.
My name is Michelle Parker. I am born and raised in Squaw Valley and now reside in Tahoe City. When I am not skiing, I spend as much time as possible in the mountains climbing, running, and mountain biking. I am the proud owner of a 78 VW Buggie and am an avid jet skier.
How long have you been skiing competitively and what pushed you into the freeskiing/big mountain world?
I have been a professional skier for 12 years now. I started off competing and now film full time with Matchstick Productions. When I was about 20 I was able to make the switch over to filming full time. It’s been my dream since before I got my first sponsors. I just love skiing powder with all of my friends! I also saw a lot more potential with filming as far as where my priorities are. I want to keep having as much fun as possible for as long as possible!
Do you feel that women are underrepresented in the freeskiing/big mountain world? If so, how do we change that?
It’s constantly growing and that’s really good to see. There are a lot of incredible women out there who are pushing it and creating edits on their own and finding ways to do that, but I still think that it would be super cool to have more than one girl in these bigger ski films. I personally think that the market is clearly there and as ladies, we just need to continue doing what we are doing and inspiring younger women to love and appreciate the outdoors. There is so much more depth to this question that it would take me hours to answer it, but it’s happening and that’s a good thing.
What is the best thing about skiing with a group of girls?
The vibe is totally different. We are supportive of each other in the mountains. We share the stoke with each other and lighten up the mood. I don’t think there is as much ego and that creates a space in the mountains to really push your boundaries and feel confident and comfortable. The supportive nature of women in the outdoors is truly an inspiring thing and it’s hard to put into words, but really fun to experience. So get out there and get rad with your girlfriends! Cherish those relationships and they will go far. We can do anything that we want to do, gender does not matter.
Do you ever get scared or apprehensive about what you’re doing? What inspires you to keep getting out there and pushing yourself?
Yes, I get scared. There are avalanches and hazards that are out of your control when you are in the mountains. If you are not scared then you should be. There’s a fine line though between being scared because of a fear that you create in your mind and a logical fear so finding that line and understanding that is key. Then it really comes down to your mindset going into the day and how to master the mind which is an ongoing journey for all of us.
What advice do you have to women who want to amp up their skiing this winter or try something new that scares them?
Get out there with someone who you trust and get rad! Haha, have confidence, but be smart. Anything that you put your mind to you can accomplish and if your can wrap your head around that then you are golden. Stay fit and healthy. Balance skiing with yoga and get in touch with your body as it can take your places you never dreamed of! Sounds kinda cheesy right, but I truly believe that.
What are a few of your must-have products or gear when you’re backcountry skiing?
Beacon, shovel, probe, extra layers, extra goggle lenses, and sunscreen!
Do you have a signature move/phrase that you do when you’re having an epic ski day?
In general I just dance! It’s the best feeling ever.