Try it with me?

Andie Creel has ventured across the pond this fall semester to explore what Europe has to offer. Here is one of her most recent experiences. She “ripped her head out of her ass and went skiing in mom jeans,” and it helped her let her ego go and have fun trying new things. 

I really wanted to look cool. Like… I tried really hard. I pulled on my ski socks over my tights and offset the height to make sure it looked like I didn’t care. I put on my black and white flannel over a loose grey shirt to make sure I looked casual. I donned my black beanie and then did my hair while it was under a freaking hat to make sure my ‘slut-strands’ were sticking out. I wore my worn out, orange-turned-brown shoes to make sure people knew I didn’t care about what I looked like.  And with my Kid Cudi filled ski playlist playing I strolled up to Bar One to meet the Sheffield ski team (I’m wearing headphones! No one can even hear that playlist I’m so proud of). So, like I said, I tried really freaking hard to look the part of skier babe from Montana.

But in my head, I had already resolved that I was not going to try to slide a box, I was not going to try a 360, I was not going to try a new trick. Because what if I couldn’t do it, looked stupid while trying, and my whole facade of skier chic was ruined?

However, as soon as we got to the indoor “SnoDome” the entire look I had worked so hard on was thoroughly covered up. I had to put on a lime green rental helmet with no goggles that even slut-stands could not make look cool. My dirty ripped red jacket with a GoPro bulge in the left pocket did not complement the lime green perfectly. My rental boots had a flex less than 70 and my skis were the stereotypical no rocker, no camber rentals that I hadn’t seen since my fourth grade ski trip. I didn’t even have matching gloves. And to top it all off, I wore my mom jeans.

Luckily, nothing will rip your head out of your ass like skiing in mom jeans.

My friend and I joked about about how it felt like we were back on our elementary school ski field trip. But I think that this fourth-grade themed first day of the season may have just saved my entire year.

The first time I ever went skiing I was at the age where I had deduced that I would get boobs at some point but didn’t know if I would grow them in a garden or if a stork would drop them off. I was young and innocent and didn’t know the rental skis I wouldn’t see again until yesterday were supposed to be embarrassing. When the instructor of my fourth grade ski trip asked us to ski down the bunny hill in order to split us up in groups I didn’t even know how to pizza. So of course, I got put in the ‘green level’ group while all my friends, who had been going to Bridger Bowl from the time they were baby bumps, went off with the ‘double black level’ instructor.

I wanted to be with them so bad! So, I tried during my two hour lesson.  My little fourth grade self had no reservations about looking like a potato with legs while going off jumps. And by the end of the day I was ready to try Hully Gully with my friends. Did I rip it? No, not even close. I yard saled half way down and pizza-ed the only way a child can down the second half.

But the point is I was trying. At some point in the decade of skiing I’ve had since then, I became afraid to try. It’s a plague that spreads through too many girls on the mountain. At some point, my male counterparts started to progress their skiing, making ridiculous ski edits, signing up for competitions, and teaching one another new tricks. I don’t even know when it happened, but I went from leading jumps lines half the time, to always following, and eventually solely skied the groomer next to the park.

Yesterday, I was planning on doing just that. Sticking to the side lines to ensure that I didn’t make a fool of myself. Then, of all things, mom jeans and rental skis gave me the biggest slap in the face and re-opened my eyes to skiing. I didn’t have to worry about maintaining my cool skier chick look because I already looked like Mrs. Jerry. The facade of skier chic was long gone. My jacket, goggles, and skis couldn’t prove I’m a skier. I had to actually ski. And with park being the only option in a SnoDome, I had to try some new things.

I’m not saying I did something crazy. I didn’t try my first backflip or slide my first rail. I’m still freaking terrified in the park, but I slid a box, and tried a weird rail thing that I don’t even know what to call. I skied switch a lot, and tried to go for a three (which resulted in me catching an edge and probably getting a concussion).

Did I look cool while doing all this? No. I still looked like a potato with legs, just like I did in fourth grade. But it was fun! I skied the same 100m long run for 3 hours and didn’t get bored because I was willing to look like a fool. I went from not being willing to leave the ground, to barely leaving the ground. (It’s all about the little things right?)

Let’s note here that I’m not a bad skier. I was lucky enough to have a crew of ripping ladies by my side all of last season, who pushed me to a new level of big mountain skiing that I had never come close to before. But yesterday was a classic reminder of how much room I have to improve, and how many mental barriers I still have to knock down.

Constantly pushing yourself in this sport is not something everyone wants to do. That being said, I’m positive everyone who reads this can think of a time they skied the familiar run over the one they’ve been scoping from the lift, went around a cliff/jump, or didn’t commit to a trick because they were worried about what they might look like if they didn’t nail it first try. Honestly, you probably will not look cool the first time you try something new. But since we’re being honest, no one cares what you look like. The people who see you eat it from the lift might laugh for a second, but their thoughts will return to beer, cheese or empty bank account just as fast as you hit the ground.

Am I saying that everyone should throw out their twin tips and start skiing in jeans? Hell no. I’m not trying to start a revolution here. I’m still going to wear my jacket that matches the zippers on my snow pants. I’m going to have slut-stands poking out of my goggles until that trend dies, and then a year longer. My new skis (which are twin tips) will be mounted as soon as possible. And I will be trying to make mom jeans look a little more acceptable this fall at the SnoDome.

But this season I’m also going to say fuck it to playing it safe, and backing out of something for fear that I’m not going to nail it first try. I’m going to look like a potato just as often as I eat a potato. I’m going to try really freaking hard. And I’ve got mom jeans and rental skis to thank for that.

So what do you ladies say? Try with me?

Author: Andrea Creel

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October 4, 2016

It’s 4:30 A.M. and my alarm goes off although it feels as if I hardly slept. I was up until midnight the night before studying for accounting. It’s October 4th and my roommates and I are not quite ready to turn the heat on yet. I roll out of bed wearing the largest sweatshirt I own to keep warm. I brush my teeth, feed my cat, throw on my ski pants and head down stairs to brew some coffee to put in a thermos. Downstairs a few roommates are also roaming around at five in the morning which can only mean one thing. It’s ski season.

We pack our skis, boots, poles and other belongings in the car and hit the road. On the way out of town we stop at the carnage house, a crew of boys who are also feeling giddy about ski season and are coming on this morning adventure with us. We wait for the boys to pack up their stuff and begin the drive in hopes of snow at Fairy Lake, a road that is to say the least, not comfortable to drive in the dark. As we cruise up the windy road we listen to a variety of music ranging from the Rolling Stones to Britney Spears. We excitedly watched as the rain turns to slush, turns to wet snow, and finally turns to snow that actually sticks to the ground.

We arrive at the Fairy Lake parking lot and everyone steps out of the car crunching into two-three inches of fresh snow. Rae instantly rolls the first snowball of the season and it smacks me in the back. I tackle Kenzie in the snow and she threatens to white-wash me. This is something in a couple months I will be tired of being threatened with, but as of right now it sounds like the most pleasing threat in the world. The laughs and smiles at sight of the first snow of the year gives me butterflies.

We all boot up, throw our headlamps on and begin the climb. To the top of Sacajawea Peak it is a little less than two miles. Huffing and puffing we stop for a little break only to almost get blown over by the wind. Low visibility and the darkness of the morning do not allow us to see the top of the peak that we are headed towards. One thing is for sure, there is snow on the ground. Although it is mostly a light dusting on the rocks it is hopes that we will be able to toss our skis on our feet and slide down this hill we are climbing up.

We arrive at the skiable part of the mountain and Nash sarcastically shouts, “My friends are the worst I could have been playing video games this morning before school!” Although we are mostly seeing rocks, we all have spotted sections of snow that will allow for a few turns. We hike up, everyone throws their helmets and goggles on and talks about how comforting it is to have goggles on their face again. We all put our skis on and begin our first descent of the season. I can hear the rocks below taking chunks out of my skis, but it is hard to care because I am in fact sliding down snow; the exact thing that I set out to do October 4th at 4:30 in the morning.

We arrive back in the parking lot and Kenzie pulls out a single IPA beer; the first beer of ski season. We pass it around, everyone takes a sip, and the vibes are high. We head back to town and stop at Granny’s Doughnuts to reward ourselves for having the first best day of the season. The race is on and the crew is full send. I am looking forward to a lot more 4:30 A.M. mornings in the freezing cold with my favorite people in the world.  

Beartooth Pass

This summer I got a chance to head up to Beartooth Pass with some of the Backcountry Squatters girls and half of the Bozeman college-aged population. First let me say that the crew we went with is totally savage, most of them are extremely embarrassing, and I would not have wanted to spend that weekend with any other group of people. Yes, we stayed up and slugged as many beers as possible every night, but what really stole the show was the jaw dropping scenery, insane skiing, and the best company.

For a lot of us it was our first trip to the Beartooths, and let me tell you that place is breathtaking. I can not believe I went twenty years not knowing that the pass existed. Erik Hilb, a good friend and coach to the @ski_beerandwomen ladies however has spent many years on top of the pass, and even lived out of his car for the summer of 2015. Safe to say Hilb is in love with the place. Lucky for us newcomers we had him to show us that hot spots on the pass. On good snow years Beartooth Basin, a ski area on the pass with one tee-bar will open up allowing people to lap like crazy on hero snow with some of the coolest features to play on. This was not one of those years. We spent hours every day hiking up steep mountains so that we could slide back down them. Unfortunately drinking a beer at the top of each run is not the best method to refuel after a long hike. (We tried to prove that wrong but just ended up getting really dehydrated).

We had the coolest crew of girls on the trip. Just to highlight a few we had Mackenzie Lisac who will throw a backflip at any given moment and shock you with the way she charges down mountains. Andie Creel who I have watched improve more than any other skier I have seen in such a short amount of time. This girl went from division 1 cross country, to hanging up her running shoes and throwing her body off the closest cliff on skis in just one short year. Pretty cool change I would say. Annika Heid who is always willing to try something new on skis (including a backflip that she landed on the trip for the first time at Beartooth Pass). Getting to experience this amazing place with my best friends is what really made it so special. I have never spent so much time with ladies who push me physically and mentally that I also want to kick back and have a beer with at the end of the day. Women in the outdoor community need to surround themselves with more people like this. The ones that you want to go adventure with but also could sit inside on a rainy day with and not get sick of each other. Going to the pass was a first for a lot of us but it will most definitely not be the last. I am anxiously anticipating the next time I get to go play on the pass and act like an idiot with my best friends. 

Smash the link below to see documentation of the absurdity that went down on Beartooth Pass.

https://www.newschoolers.com/videos/watch/830847/-BEERANDWOMEN-V2

The Female Athlete

Today as I finished my lunch break at work, I was sitting in my cubicle surfing the web (somehow I manage to kill about an hour after my lunch break every day). One of the first things that popped up on the msn.com was titled, The 20 Most Popular Athletes in the World. I was anxiously hoping that some of my childhood idols like Lindsey Vonn, Lara Gut and Anna Fenninger (feel free to Google them I was a ski racer, they are very familiar names) would pop up. I was slightly disappointed by the results. Out of the top 20 “most popular athletes”, only one of them was a woman, Maria Sharapova, legend and bad ass tennis player. Now, let me say that I am the first person to stand up and say there is no men’s and women’s skiing, just skiing. There is no men’s and women’s climbing, just climbing. There is no men’s and women’s biking, just biking. However, why was there only one women? There are tons of women doing amazing things in the outdoors world. Sure we are not 300 pound men tackling each other or seven feet tall throwing a ball in a hoop (shout out to ball sports), but the first American women did just summit Everest without oxygen. Worth talking about? Probably.

What I find amazing about the female athlete is she is fierce. We are not built with the same frame as men. We are smaller and let’s face it we don’t have the physical capacity to be as strong as men not to mention we don’t have copious amounts of testosterone pulsing through our bodies. When a woman is able to accomplish things that are physically astonishing it damn well better be talked about. 5’4” Angel Collinson hucking her meat down the slopes of Alaska should have been talked about way more that it was. That is a tiny creature putting herself out there and defying what society is telling her she is capable of. What about Abby Wambach, American soccer player? She has two Olympic gold medals and has been named U.S. soccer athlete of the year six times. Why wasn’t she featured on this list?

Honestly, when I was reading the article on msn.com I was even surprised that some female athletes who are portrayed as sex symbols weren’t talked about more. How pathetic is that? Me, a person who is always trying to encourage women to push their limits and be their best self was only expecting to see women who are seen as sex symbols in the sport world featured in the top 20 athletes. I guess that is how society has brainwashed me. I’m not trying to pull a “woe to me I am the poor woman athlete” card. However, women are extremely underrepresented in the media for their work in the athletic world. Women are doing things that at one time would have seemed absurd. Will women one day be more represented?  I don’t know. What I do know is that women need to keep pushing the limits and doing things they love.Groups like the Backcountry Squatters need to become bigger and more represented. Things that bring women together to do these amazing things. Maybe a girl will show up to the Squatters meeting thinking that they are the best in their field of interest only to find out that there are ten girls more talented than her, therefore she pushes her limits a little more every day. This is how women will keep progressing. We may not be as represented in the media as we should be but we are pushing the limits every day and trying new things that will hopefully someday be more recognized by mainstream media.