Interview by Jeff Schmuck
How about we start off by having you tell everyone who you are and a little bit about your background.
My name is Nadia Samer, and I'm a 22-year-old skier out of Whistler, BC. I've been skiing as long as I can remember, because my Dad emigrated here from Austria and put me on skis as soon as I could walk. He had me chasing him around Blackcomb because I had problems waiting for ski school groups to keep up and I really liked going straight, which led to him starting me in racing programs at 10. I raced until about the age of 17 and then went over to skier cross for a few years with the Canadian and BC teams and was doing some big mountain competitions on the side. But my skier cross coach at the time had a problem with me doing both and bringing my powder skis on the road with me or driving to competitions myself with my truck and sled, so I made the choice to begin pursuing sledding and big mountain skiing full-time, because in the end skiing pow is just a hell of a lot more fun. Plus I found that the direction skier cross was going in seemed to be less of a fun, free-for-all alternative to racing, because after it was made an Olympic sport it became a lot more straight-edged, and everyone began showing up to events with teams and physiotherapists and started wearing spandex, so it became like alpine racing all over again.
Nadia Samer. Photos: Kurt Samer
This winter you've fired up a Whistler-based videoblog series called Love at First Turn. Tell us about it along with the concept behind it.
Well after watching all of the big ski movies that come out ever year I noticed that there always seems to be just one token female part, and living on the Sea-to-Sky corridor and traveling around the world I know how much more female talent exists out there that isn't being showcased. There are a ton of girls out there ripping as hard or harder than some of the ones in the movies, so I wanted to provide an outlet for some of that female talent to be showcased. Plus I also wanted to show more of a behind the scenes look at how big mountain skiing actually takes place, because you watch these movies and see the odd shot of an athlete in a heli or on a sled, but it doesn't really give you a sense of how much work and effort goes into getting to those lines.
Photo: Nadia Samer
Photo: Eric Neff
Photo: Nadia Samer
Photo: Eric Neff
In addition to skiing in it yourself, you've taken on somewhat of a director's role for this series as well by filming and editing everything, and I know that you had no prior experience in that area before embarking on this project and essentially taught yourself how to do it. Tell us how that all came about.
Well nothing happens if you don't grab life by the balls and get it done yourself (laughs). I had a friend who was originally going to do all the editing and some of the filming but he ended up bailing on me, so after he did I pretty much decided that either I needed to take charge of this thing or it was going to fizzle and die before it even began. And after discussing the project with people I found that there were a lot of individuals who were stoked on the concept and really wanted to see it come to fruition, so I bought a new camera that shot video, as I'd already been doing a lot of photography over the last two or three years on the road as a hobby, and pretty much learned how to film and use iMovie and Final Cut as the winter progressed.
And how has that whole process of learning as you go been going?
Frustrating and painful at times (laughs). I'd make mistakes that would undo a few of hours of work at times and had to learn how to convert to different formats and whatnot, so it's definitely been really time consuming. And as a result, as opposed to spending more time in front of the lens getting a few extra shots of myself I find I'm spending a lot more time behind the camera getting the shots of other athletes and then editing the video. But if I don't do it then it's not going to get done.
Photo: Julie Weinberger
Who's featured in the series?
The first episode included Ashleigh McIvor, who's a local Whistler girl who actually won the gold medal last year in the Olympics for skiercross. She's a hell of a ripper and loves skiing in the mountains and sending it off cliffs and pillows as much as she does being on a race course. We also have Suzanne Graham, who won last year's Red Bull Cold Rush and is an awesome big mountain skier and has over 200 base jumps to her name along with 20 ski-base jumps as well. And then there's Kasie Stroshin, who won the Canadian Freeskiing Open this winter and also competed in skier cross at the X Games, plus Vera Jannsen, who won last year's Queen of the Hill at Tailgate Alaska and is one of the best all-around female snowboarders in the world, and a guy named Graham Haywood, who continues to blow me away with what he's capable of every time he clicks on skis and drops into a line.
Graham Haywood. Photo: Nadia Samer
You film a couple guys as well, but the primary focus of the series is on female riding correct?
Well I mainly wanted to show how it is in the backcountry and I've always ridden with mixed crews of guys and girls, skiers and boarders, but sometimes I end up with all girls, so it was definitely a big goal of mine to showcase female talent when I set out to do this. It's by no means a female-specific project, but there is definitely a focus on female riding.
Vera Janssen, Julie-Ann Chapman and Nadia Samer. Photo: Kim Woo
You've put out three episodes this season so far, and I noticed that all of them have a bit of their own unique feel. Was that something you set to accomplish while making each one?
I mainly just wanted the episodes to stay true to type of feelings and skiing that take place at each time of year, and I didn't want them to have some sort of cookie-cutter style that dictated how each episode was going to be. For example the early season has a magical sort of feeling for everyone, where everyone is so stoked and the energy is so high, and we had amazing conditions here at Whistler-Blackcomb during that time of year, so I tried to showcase all of that in the first episode. Then it was really, really stormy in the middle of the season, but when we had a good couple of days the hucking started. So the second episode ended up being more fast-paced and aggressive, because everyone was all about bagging those airs we were looking at in the early season, and once all the stumps and rocks are covered up it was go time. And now in the spring time we're finally getting some good light, because it feels like we’ve only had about 15-20 days of sun this winter, so we were able to go out and shred some of the big lines that had been eluding us all winter.
Love at First Turn 1.1
Love at First Turn 1.2
Love at First Turn 1.3
What are your plans for the project moving forward now that the season is about to come to an end?
I'm hoping to get one more episode done this season, because with the amount of snow we have it looks like we'll probably be able to sled until June. And then for next season I'd like to put out one episode per month, but it's always give or take because you can never predict how the weather is going to be and it's really hard to shoot big mountain riding in full-blown white out storms (laughs).
Photo: Amy McDermid
Anyone you'd like to thank for helping you make this project become reality?
Oh boy. Lots of people. First off to all of the athletes and photographers for having faith in the project, sticking it out during the bad weather days, dealing with broken down sleds and being patient with me while I learned to shoot video. Doing video is very time consuming and I appreciate everyone who sacrificed mileage on pow takes to come wake up two hours earlier and bag shots in the backcountry instead. My Dad for putting me on skis when I was only a year and a half old, and for dealing with all the calls from hospitals over the years. I'd also like to thank you for believing in this project and supporting it from the get go, Corey Stecker, Jessica Starkey and Haley Caruso at The North Face, Kyle McCarthy, Julius Wohlgemuth, Jordan Judd and Jake Strassburger at Atomic, Ryan Proctor at Whistler-Blackcomb, Justin Golliher at Reusch, Jeff Favorite at FOX Racing SHOX, Kirk Zack at HMK, Brendan Sopel at Limenine, Brett McDowell at Bulldog Decks, Wade Durbin at RSI Racing, Dave Basterrechea at Cheetah Factory Racing, Rich Kumm at Fly Racing, Justin Fierro at GoPro, Mark at C&A Pro skis and Andy Anissimof for creating the graphic for our NSTV channel.
To watch all current and future episode of Love at First Turn, be sure to tune into their channel on the NSTV page.