Leah Evans has stood atop podiums across North America: She took first at the 2011 Freeride World Tour at Revestoke, BC, first at the 2012 Coldsmoke slopestyle contest at Whitewater, BC, first at the 2010 Canadian Freeskiing Open, and more. The 24-year-old Canadian and part-time firefighter has traveled to places like Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Turkey, and Japan to ski and film. She recently signed with Salomon Skis, and is also sponsored by The North Face, Smith Optics, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort, but her proudest achievement so far? Starting a company called Girls Do Ski, which coaches and inspires females to face their fears through skiing.
Girls Do Ski. Please explain.
Girls Do Ski is the umbrella that I've hosted a bunch of events under, like Girls' Day Out, 20 under 20, and the Woman's Freeski workshop. The 20 under 20 camps are new this year. I wanted to connect with the young ladies because that is the future of our sport. I felt this urge to make sure that they had accessible role models and support to pursue their skiing dreams if they wished to do so. Girls Day Out has shaped into an over-20 crowd and for the most part these ladies have a different goal than the under-20 skiers, so I decided it was time to create a new event.
You include sports psychology in your coaching as well, right?
I think skiing is 95 percent mental. I hope by including sports psychology we can re-program the way attendees view skiing and improve their overall level and enjoyment of the sport.
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
To be honest, I don't think I've achieved it yet. I'm always thinking about leaving a legacy like Sarah Burke has and can only aspire to inspire on the scale she did.
Any big plans for next winter?
I'm happy to have this new partnership with Salomon skis. I'm excited about Salomon's community vision and their openness to listen to their athlete's feedback. Furthermore, they are launching a new female ski called the Rockette, a women's specific powder ski. I'm also currently planning to head south in September, be it New Zealand or South America.
Lessons learned while traveling?
We are all the same and what we do is normal to us. People will often call skiers crazy or extreme, but to me and a majority of my skiing friends, it's normal. Just like the people who work at an office in Tokyo and sleep in the noodle house for 20 minutes, or the ladies who wear a burka in Turkey, that is normal. We have to respect others and the way they choose to live their lives.
You've worked as a firefighter for the last four years. Tell me about that.
I think that most of the stories would seem bizarre to the everyday person because it's an uncanny job. For me, it's become normalized, for example a normal work week could be flying in helicopters, hoover exiting, hiking in the bush, digging around in the dirt and working out.