Pretty Faces is a film celebrating women who thrive in the snow. The concept for the film was originated by professional big mountain skier and SheJumps co-founder, Lynsey Dyer with the objective of giving women and girls (young and old) a source of inspiration through a unique look at what is possible when boundaries are broken, dreams captured and friendships cultivated. 

We got the chance to speak to Rachael Burks, pro skier and founder of Femalewolfpack.com (a site wholly dedicated to increasing female visibility in action sports). Dubbed the “Fun Director,” Rachael spent most of her winter filming for this movie. Here’s what she had to say:

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

In your words, what’s the idea behind Pretty Faces? How do you think it will encourage young girls & women to get out there?

The idea behind Pretty Faces: “If you see that, it can be done; if she can do it, so can I, will follow.” It’s all about trying to get women better coverage, bigger parts in ski films, more opportunities, more recognition. But most of all, Pretty Faces aims to inspire the next generation of girls. Look at what Sarah Burke has done! By leading by example and giving women opportunities, she’s moved mountains in the industry.

Who did you work with on this project?

Lynsey Dyer, Nicole Yavis, Amie Engerbretson, Pip Hunt, McKenna Peterson, Ingrid Backstrom, Elyse Saugstad, Angel Collinson, Tatum Monod, Lexi Dupont, Wendy Fisher, and so many more!

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

What do you think are some of the barriers girls face today when trying to get involved in skiing (or any other outdoor sports)?

I think honestly women create huge barriers for themselves – from not believing in themselves, to lacking confidence to TRULY go after something all the way, to facing discouraging numbers of women who can actually make a living from outdoor sports (then again, there aren’t many men who can do it, either)…

I think girls need to SEE it to believe it. Hell, MOST people need to see it to believe it! Women also have a tendency to wait for the golden ticket. They don’t traditionally make enough opportunities for themselves. They wait for someone to ask them to come along, and since that doesn’t happen often, they get discouraged. Sure, other obstacles exist as well, including people telling you that you can’t do something. That said, skiing is a strange thing to want to go into, but it’s incredible, and it’s possible.

Have you faced any of those yourself? 

Sure! I’m always trying to prove myself instead of just showing up and being content with my best, which is when your confidence decreases if things don’t go well, and you become your own worst enemy. Oh, and one must always remember to SMILE! It will get you farther than you think.

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

Have you learned anything new about yourself as a female athlete since filming?

Tons, don’t really know where to begin with this one… I’ve learned that attitude is everything. I’ve learned that it’s better to show up and fail than to not show up at all. I’ve learned to work hard and trust myself. I’ve learned that I really like being able to help others when I’m on a shoot. I like to inspire as a female, but also bring out the goofiness in other women.

I’ve learned that you have to keep showing up – and sometimes things don’t work out for you, sometimes you DO fail, and it’s not easy… it’s hard as hell to fail, and I’m not great at getting it back together – but I have learned that you have to just keep showing up, keep getting out. If you’re not present, then you are not improving your chances in any way. You’re also not getting better at skiing. (That’s important stuff.)

When does Pretty Faces come out and how can we catch it?

Pretty Faces comes out this fall, and the premier will be in Boulder, CO on September 30th! Then there’s a whole tour (dates can be found here), and you can purchase a DVD (which would be awesome!) here as well.

What’s next for you?

Next is getting to the premier a week from today. I’m going to focus on next week, then make decisions about next season.

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PHOTO: Unicorn Picnic

About Rachael…

When and where did you learn to ski?  Who did you learn with?

I learned to ski with my parents. Dad didn’t really get into skiing until later on in life, but he thought it was a fun sport and wanted his kids to be a part of it. He’d take my brother and I out on weekends… I was pretty small then…

Which athletes did you admire most growing up, and who do you look up to now?

I always looked up to Seth Morrison (DUH). Same with Shane McConkey (another DUH). As for women, Jamie Burge and Ingrid Backstrom.

PHOTO: Oskar Enander

PHOTO: Oskar Enander

What has been your most memorable moment in skiing so far?

Man, that’s a tough one because I have so many incredible, amazing moments… I’d say probably most memorable was watching my brother straight-line into a late-season kicker called “the wave.” It was insane! He went bigger than anyone that day, and he only skis a handful of times a year.

20 years from now, what do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered as one of the first women to go inverted on large cliffs.

If you weren’t a pro skier, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

I’d probably be working in international relations somewhere… I won’t be a pro skier forever.

How many ski areas have you been to?

Too many to count!

PHOTO: Powdermag

PHOTO: Powder Magazine

Rapid fire! What is…

Your go-to set up for big mountain skiing? Dynastar Cham 117’s, Lange boots, PeakPerformance Heli Jacket and Pant, Smith Optics IO/S goggles, Smith optics helmet, Hestra Gloves, Discrete Beanie, Badnanasbandanas “outdoor hotties” bandana, and a huge backpack with avie gear and toilet paper. 😉

Your all-time favorite ski film? Almost Ablaze Teton Gravity Research (2014) is my new favorite, and my old favorite is MSP Sick Sense (1998).

Your go-to breakfast before a big day on the slopes? BIG ASS BREAKFAST SAMMY with eggs, bacon, cheese, amazing bread, butter, more cheese, jalapeños… and some damn good coffee. I LIVE for breakfast!

Your go-to meal after an intense competition? Burger at the Cotton Bottom in Salt Lake City.

Your go-to après spot after a long day on the slopes? Tram Club Snowbird and Peruvian Bar Alta… sometimes both.

Your favorite place to ski? Alta and Snowbird – why do you think I live in Salt Lake City?!

Your favorite thing to do for fun, outside of skiing? Biking, dancing, surfing, drinking beer.

Your guiltiest indulgence? I love US Weekly and People magazine… the dresses make my eyes sparkle.

The weirdest thing you’ve seen from a chairlift? I don’t know if “weirdest” is appropriate, but the coolest thing I’ve ever seen is a girl jumping off a cliff at Squaw Valley under the lift and landing switch and then straight lining out the bottom switch. I still haven’t even seen a girl do that in a movie. It was INSANE. (Mystery female, who were you?!)

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