http://Interview by Jeff Schmuck

Photos by Eric Neff

Hey Nadia, how have you been?

Not bad, thanks for asking. Things have been a little hectic lately, I'm in school at Simon Fraser University studying Health Science, finals are coming up and I have a few over due papers which don't seem to write themselves. It's been a busy fall commuting four days a week between Whistler and Vancouver, while trying to get preparations for winter all nailed down. I'm definitely not taking this many courses next year! It's such a relief to finally get this first episode done. We have such a good snow base here already (I probed 300cm's at 1600 meters yesterday!), so once I'm done school in two weeks it's full on go time. I can't wait!

 

You're the brains and brawn behind the webisode series Love At First Turn, which premiered last winter right here on Newschoolers. How did the first season go?

Last year went better than expected, but I still look back wishing I had done some things differently. At the time I had a lot on my plate with doing the filming, editing, shooting photos, competing, coordinating athletes and trying to film a snowmobile movie segment as well. I'm pretty happy I was able to get the project to come to a reality with three episodes. It's a very rewarding experience seeing something through from concept to release. I definitely have a lot more respect now for real filmers and producers (laughs). I still really enjoy the whole filming aspect, at the end of the day filming and skiing aren't really that different. It's about self expression. Every skier you send down a slope will take a different line or route, and every filmer/photographer will shoot that same line differently. It's so rewarding to be able to relive those moments out in the backcountry with others, and hopefully get some people stoked.

Nadia Samer

I know you had some fairly significant challenges in getting the series off the ground, but you managed to persevere and still make it  a reality. Tell everyone about what happened.

I had a filmer lined up who said he would be there for all the locally-based filming, but then he decided (after a few weeks being incommunicado) it was something he didn't want to be a part of anymore, but didn't get back to me. After telling sponsors what I had set out to do beforehand, including proposals, schedules etc, I wasn't about to back down and be defeated. I took it upon myself to get the project done, and purchased a Nikon D7000 body that worked with the lenses I had for photography and ended up shooting most of the series myself, by stationary tripod or simply by passing the camera back and forth between riders. All things considered, it could have easily never happened. I'm definitely not a filmer, and had zero experience with filming or editing before last year. I had to learn it all, and fast. I love learning new sports, skills and abilities, so the challenge was enjoyable, but the stress of getting episodes done when there was little to no blue sky to work with at home was not. Looking back I'm glad I was forced to take a leap of faith and learn all these new skills, however rough they may be (laughs). There is so much time involved in just getting a single shot done in the backcountry, compared to resort or park skiing.

 

You’vr just released the first episode of season two, but  before we get into the episode, tell us about your plans for the  series this winter.

This year I have Joel Wolters on board doing most of the cinematography and editing, which is a huge relief. Joel is a film student at Simon Fraser University and is originally from New Hampshire. Ironically we met through Newschoolers, and we soon discovered that I had an Anthropology class with his girlfriend Kim, who is also at SFU. The world works in mysterious ways. He has a very unique eye and is bringing a lot of experience and talent to this series. I'm so incredibly stoked to have him working with me this year. This year we're going to be doing a more athlete-centered and focused series, trying to give more background on who these athletes are when they're not on skis and do a better job of actively telling the story of the day, as I had set out to do last year but didn't quite accomplish. The episodes this year are going to be much shorter (two-three minutes in length) and more frequent. We're hoping to get a minimum of five and up to 10 episodes done this season. 

 

I know you tried to keep the series as female-focused as possible last year athlete-wise, so are you sticking to that theme, or planning  on moving in a different direction?

I tried to include as much female talent as possible last year, and showcase some of the incredibly skilled girls I know. This series was never intended to be exclusively female, as my friends and crews I ride with are most definitely not. There will be a much stronger female presence in this series compared to others, but we are still going to be including many male athletes from last year like Graham Haywood. I realize that we also had a critical shortage of verbal commentary, more than likely due to my fear of talking on camera. Joel and I have picked up some audio equipment and are going to be bullying others into doing more face time. It's funny, because I thought I was alone with that aversion to interviews, but it turns out that quite a few skiers dislike the camera in their face when they're not actively skiing.

Do you have anything else new planned for the series that you'd like to add?

We have some big trips planned this year, the highlight being an Alaska trip in April which will include Tailgate Alaska, Arctic Man and hopefully lots of glorious sled-accessed skiing on some big lines. This trip should result in a great episode or two, as these longer road trips are always an adventure and everything that could go wrong always seems to happen at the most inopportune moment. On the same note you run into the most amazing like-minded people and end up having epic days that were completely unplanned and unexpected. Exploring new areas is all part of the adventure, and what makes these trips so much fun.

 

The first episode of season two focuses on opening day at Whistler-Blackcomb, which took place this past a week and a half ago. Give us a little preview of what we can expect.

We've had a ton of snowfall this year at Whistler already, which led to some amazing conditions. We met up with some local athletes, including up and coming freestyle athlete Yuki Tsubota. It was awesome meeting Yuki, and this girl is definitely one to watch this winter and over the next few years. We had a blast skiing super light density pow which is quite unusual for here. Also, it was Joel's first time skiing out here, and he has been in seventh heaven with the longer runs, deeper snow, and new terrain to explore. I think at one point he was comparing the total terrain of Whistler-Blackcomb to his home mountain, and we figured out that the three lifts open during opening day provided access to six times the total available terrain of his home resort.

Yuki Tsubota

 

Speaking of opening day in Whistler, I know you just had something pretty damn gnarly happen to you over the weekend. Tell us about it.

(laughs) Well if you insist! I don't particularly like to discuss anything foot-related, but since you asked I'll indulge the readers with stronger stomachs. I used to race alpine and skiercross before getting into big mountain skiing, and everyone knows race boots are pretty damn small and tight. We would always have pre-season training camps in November/December, usually in Alberta or Northern BC. Over the years you randomly hit some pretty cold temperatures depending on weather cycles. One year at Nakiska it hit -45 degrees Celsius before wind chill and I got pretty bad frostbite on both my feet. This occurred again at a skiercross training camp at Powder King during a -50 degrees Celsius cold snap. Keep in mind at these temperatures most vehicles won't start, and your spit freezes before it hits the ground. So we were hiking peak laps on Whistler during opening weekend, and didn't go in at all during the day. The last lap was pretty cold (around -20 degrees Celsius) and by that point I had lost all feeling in my feet. We ended up getting off the mountain in the dark around 5:30pm and when I took my boot off my toe had blistered and the nail fallen off despite having boot heaters. It eventually got infected and I had to get treated with IV antibiotics as the infection was spreading through my foot. It's fine now, and I've purchased a second set of batteries for boot heaters to last through the really long days. Joel and I actually filmed puncturing the subungual hematoma but decided it was too graphic to put in the episode. Nobody likes to see blood squirting everywhere.

Nadia Samer

 

There's sooo many skiing-based webisode series out there right now, so  tell us why everyone should tune into Love At First Turn throughout  the winter.

I think this project has a unique angle, as we highlight many female athletes which is a rarity in this industry and we also includes multiple sports. We aren't exclusively focused on skiing. I try to portray things as they really are, as most of the crews I ride with are co-ed and include skiers, boarders and snowmobilers. Rather unlike most series which are predominantly male, or park-focused, we are primarily big mountain/backcountry focused and provide an insight into other sports, along with seldom seen female athletes. Nothing irritates me more than sitting through another ski movie and only seeing 30 seconds (or nothing in some cases) of the "token female rider". I know guys are curious about what other girls are up to, and I know girls want to see other girls throw down. I'm doing my best to create a venue to showcase the talents of other female athletes who would otherwise not have the chance.

 

Any shout-outs you'd like to dish out?

Absolutely! I'd like to first and foremost thank Joel Wolter for coming on board with this series. He has been a huge help and is dedicated to the project, it has been so nice to have someone else helping film and lug camera gear around. It definitely takes a load of stress off my back and helps me focus more on actually skiing, or getting some sleep at night. Thank you to Eric Neff as well for coming on board to help with some of the photography and filming! Also, I'd like to thank The North Face Canada for helping us out and believing in the project from the start, specifically Corey Stecker and Jess Starkey. Making this season happen wouldn't be possible without your support. I've been working with The North Face for going on four years now and they have been the most amazing company to work with and be a part of. Everyone from the designers to marketing directors are all so passionate about the outdoors and activities their products will ultimately be used for. They truly care about every piece they produce and want it to perform to the highest standards. I'm so stoked on all the new gear and the directionthe Cryptic line is going in, especially the women's gear. Thank you as well to Kyle McCarthy, Julius Wohlgemuth, Steve Kerr, Jake Strassburger and Jordan Judd at Atomic, Justin Golliher at Reusch, Dave at Cheetah Factory Racing, Jason Mousseau and Chris O'Connell at SBC Skier and Justin at GoPro. Also to all my snowmobile Sponsors: HMK USA, Bulldog Decks, FOX Racing SHOX, RSI Racing, C&A Pro Skis, Lime Nine graphics, Fly Racing, Alpinestars, and Boondockers films. Thank you to Chris McLeod at Whistler Blackcomb, and to all the guys at Snowcovers/Skiis and Biikes for taking care of me. I know my boots don't always smell the best! Most of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to start up Love at First Turn and for taking a chance on this project. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

Check out Love At First Turn's NSTV channel to watch all past and upcoming episodes.


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