We’re often celebrated for our looks. Sure, we look better than the average guy in a bikini and our bare midriffs might turn more heads, but did you know that the female gender can also rip a mountain in two, leaving hot ski tracks and a plume of powder behind? Elevate your athletic perceptions by getting to know the following four pro women skiers who go hard not just for themselves but for the rising outdoor generation of females — and try not to stand slack-jawed in their wake.

Rachael Burks

Home: Utah, USA

4 Fierce Pro Skiers: Rachel Burkes (Photo Credit: Powdermag)

Photo Credit: Powdermag

Called “Half-woman, half-animal,” by one of her sponsors’ founders, Nico Nolan of Levitation Project, Rachael is known for being up for big lines and not backing down to any challenge. Along with TGR films, she was recently featured in “Shades of Winter,” an all-female ski film that showcased big mountain skiing alongside “Nine Queens,” a huge castle-style “jump and jib” course built of snow. Freeskier magazine quoted her as saying, “…I don’t want it to be good for a chick, but good, period.” Rachael is on a mission to progress not only her own skiing but also females’ athletic pursuits across all genres. This is the purpose behind Female Wolfpack, a site she founded which is dedicated to helping outdoor women gain visibility through video submissions — no “exploitation of femininity” allowed. Rock on, sista.

Jen Hudak

Home: Utah, USA

4 Fierce Pro Skiers: Jen Hudak (Photo Credit: Eric Seo)

Photo Credit: Eric Seo

She’s won six X Games medals and four US National Championships. She throws down in the halfpipe, making her a two-time AFP Superpipe World Champion. She’s a member of the U.S. Freeskiing Team, and she believes in living gratefully. She’s suffered major ski injuries, but even during her rehabilitation periods you’ll find her social media feeds full of personal, uplifting captions that encourage others — which also carry over to her real life interactions (thanks, Jen!).  An advocate for women in sports, she challenges outdoor media to focus on the athlete, saying in a November post on her site: “There are plenty of other publications out there whose sole focus is on attractive women…leave the objectification to them.” Makes you pretty proud of your fellow outdoor woman, doesn’t it?

Sandra Lahnsteiner

Home: Salzburg, Austria

4 Fierce Pro Skiers: Sandra Lahnsteiner (Photo Credit: Mattias Fredriksson for Peak Performance)

Photo Credit: Mattias Fredriksson for Peak Performance

This talented big-mountain skier will not only lead the way down the mountain, but she’ll film her crew while doing it, then edit it into an award-winning film before all is said and done. She’s produced three all-female movies, including the above-mentioned “Shades of Winter.” Having skied and filmed in mountains from Japan to Alaska, Sandra manages it all while being an athletic and mental coach for others. She takes her creativity on the mountain to show the world why women “…love skiing so much; why we feel so complete in the mountains.” (Source: Outdoor Women’s Alliance) Ski bunny? Keep looking.

Molly Baker

Home: California/Washington, USA

4 Fierce Pro Skiers: Molly Baker (Photo Credit: Mt. Baker)

Photo Credit: Mt. Baker

Outdoor Research (OR) athlete Molly Baker chased powder in the “Tiny House:” a 112-square-foot ski cabin that rolled through North America crammed with ski gear and four other skiers. She’s used to this gypsy lifestyle, having traveled to snowy ranges in Patagonia, Norway, and all the major hotspots in her home continent. She’s been captured by the high-profile lenses of Steven Lloyd, Scott Markewitz, and Re Wikstrom. But her work doesn’t stop there. She also pens bold words as a freelance writer. “Take the road less traveled,” says her recent piece written for OR’s Verticulture blog. “For female athletes, this means try to do something other than sell [your looks]. Be better than that.” Fist pump in the general direction of wherever in the world you may be at this moment, Molly.

Know of a woman who is using her outdoor skills to showcase female athleticism rather than aesthetics? Tell us about her in the comments!

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  • battycakes

    Yes. In fact, I’m lucky enough to know so many women who elevate the topic of conversation above ‘who wore what best’ to heights unlimited by superficial shallowness. Adrienne Schneider and Christine Dern, to name the first two that come to mind — these women kill it atop bikes AND skis, and are always the first I offer words of encouragement and sheer joy. Jen (Hudak, mentioned above), Joni, Whitney… The list goes on and on of women who are good, not just ‘for a girl’, but flat out good.

    It’s an absolute honor to stand amongst these women and grin after a long day of fun.

    • Yes yes, my OWA sister! So proud to know YOU as well. You’re a strong force for change; keep it up!

    • liftopia

      Hi battycakes, We really liked your response and want to thank you by sending some Liftopia shwag your way. Look out for an email from us in your inbox!