WORDS — Conor Smith
The presence of women in ski movies is on the rise… finally. For a hot minute there a few years ago the future of women shining bright in ski films was looking a little grim, eh? It had been a while since we’d had a changing of the guard in the sport, at least in front of the camera. While young guns Kelly Sildaru and Mathilde Gremaud were making waves and landing on podiums at the X Games and Olympics, the already tokenized female presence in ski movies had largely been stagnant. Year-after-year, pioneers like Michelle Parker, Angel Collinson and Ingrid Backstrom continued to make their mark on the silver screen, but new faces were far and few-between.
Now, the annual ski flick surely includes rippin’ ladies, but these women focus their efforts on big-mountain skiing with a freestyle flare—the likes of McKenna Peterson, Caite Zeliff and Lucy Sackbauer becoming mainstays in Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research films. However, one began to wonder when we’d see a rise in female-led productions that also highlight the creativity and style that ooze from skiing the streets—urban skiing being notably absent from big money productions.
SKIER: Alice Mitchel
PHOTO: Rosina Friedel
LOCATION: Saint Bernard Tunnel, CHE
SKIER: Rosina Freidel
PHOTO: Moritz Waas
LOCATION: Bjelasnica, BIH
Fortunately, the last few years have seen an increased presence of talented up-and-comers with a varied skill set for powder and urban riding. One of the athletes that has stuck out to your friends [at FREESKIER] is Rosina Friedel, a native of Bavaria. Growing up a snowboarder, Rosina switched to skiing at the age of 16 and hasn’t looked back. She has called Innsbruck, Austria, home since 2011, honing her skills and slowly building a European following. Rosina put herself on the global map in 2018 as the first woman to make Level 1’s SuperUnknown finals—an enormous accomplishment given the male-dominated history of the amateur freestyle comp. Her standout entry featured top-shelf street skiing and a fresh approach to the sport, her fluidity and eye-catching trick selection turning the judges’ heads. While Rosina doesn’t go the biggest or spin the most… damn, her skiing is just nice on the eyes and a joy to behold.
Rosina filmed her SuperUnknown entry with an Innsbruck crew that she helped bring together—known as el.Makrell—and she’s been riding with them since 2016, producing several environmentally minded short ski films along the way. “Stanice,” an 18-minute piece from 2019 about traveling Eastern Europe entirely by train, was novel, entertaining and even a tad avant-garde, ahead of its time for its focus on reducing carbon emissions by using mass transit. Branching out in 2020, Rosina spent several weeks in Québec filming for Coline Ballet-Baz’s “Skivas,” bagging several standout clips in an excellent tag-team urban segment.
SKIER: el.makrell crew
PHOTO: Ludwig Hagelstein
LOCATION: Nordkette, CHE
One wonders if the experience of filming with an all-ladies crew stuck with Rosina, as her latest effort “Connected,” which premiered at the iF3 Festival this fall, largely echoes the formula of “Skivas,” combining urban and pow segments that feature the next wave of female freeriders. Last winter, Rosina spent her time traveling to Verbier and East Tyrol with friend and el.Makrell filmer Ludwig Hagelstein, making the best of a season hindered by travel restrictions and Covid-related resort closures. The two started the season with the intention of making a short video with both powder and urban skiing, but with little-to-no concrete plans for who they’d film with or where the crew would land. A few fortuitous link-ups filled out the 12-minute film incredibly well: Alice Michel and Stefanie Mössler make their debut appearances as athletes in an el.Makrell production, putting down some radical, eye-opening clips throughout the film.
Hands down, “Connected” is the one of best all-ladies ski flicks we’ve ever seen; it’s short, sweet, and well worth your viewership, now playing on the Level 1 Productions’ YouTube channel. On the filming side, Ludwig knows exactly when to bust out the fish eye, and his work both behind the lens and in the editing booth brings out the best in the athletes’ skiing—the movie is fun, polished and chock-full of authentic emotion. But, most importantly, Rosina, Alice and Stefanie, amongst others, are bringing a new wave of heat into the world of freeride and freestyle skiing.
Until now, Coline Ballet-Baz’s aforementioned “Skivas” and Laura Obermeyer’s “Jyosei,” both released in 2019, were the only two examples of female-led, freeride films that included urban skiing. With the addition of “Connected,” which was filmed with next-to-no budget and little help from sponsors, these women are creating a model for what’s possible. There will always be women in the big ski movies shredding in the backcountry and breaking ground in their own way—but Rosina, el.Makrell and their latest project are setting the bar for creativity and self-produced glory. If someone actually starts paying them, there’s no doubt it’ll be game on.