Monday marks the launch of the largest video edit contest in skiing with TetonGravity.com's The Co-Lab. Voting begins Monday and runs through July 15. On July 19, the 21 finalists will be announced (18 fan-voted and three wild cards). With $100,000 on the table, 37 athletes from all walks of life entered the contest in the hopes of taking home the big prize. While a variety of skiing will be on show in the contest, only two women entered. One, Elyse Saugstad (the other is 9-year-old Sofia Tchernetsky), has been in the game for years. Saugstad spent her winter in Canada's Whistler and Pemberton backcountry and partly in Alaska, filming with various crews and quietly collecting footage.
Going into the ski season, I didn't plan on entering the contest. It seemed kind of daunting knowing a bunch of the TGR athletes were going to enter. I didn't really consider it.
I wanted to work on putting together a really good segment this year. It dawned on me part way through the season that I was getting some pretty good footage and it was worth putting in the effort to make something for the contest.
Cody [Townsend, Saugstad's husband] worked with Team 13 back in the day. He and Matt [Sheridan] have a really good relationship. We turned to Matt to see if he'd be interested in helping us out with the edit. I'm so lucky that he said yes. We couldn't have put an edit together like that. He had some ideas that make it a little different than a normal ski edit.
One of the cool things about this Co-Lab project is the athlete is doing everything. When you work with a movie company, they have so much more control over everything. This project was taken more in my own hands from deciding to enter the contest, trying to get footage, all the way to picking out the song and trying to contact the record labels to get the rights to the music. That was a whole other can of worms to open.
Oooohhhh, $100,000 dollars. I try not to even think about that part of it. Ultimately, you end up spending it one way or another after the ridiculous amount of taxes that come out of it. Cody and I want to buy a house and we have things in motion so that money would only help the situation. And the inevitable trip to Bali.
There's so few opportunities to film, if you're a woman, why wouldn't more women enter this? It's difficult. There are so many components that go into filming and other people you have to rely on to film in the backcountry. It's kind of daunting.
There's so much momentum behind women freeskiers. I think the women's side is a huge area for market growth. The companies in the industry should really take notice.
Ski segments won't ever die. Sure, maybe people that get a little older and have been watching these movies for 10 or 15 years are thinking it's the same old thing, but put a 15-year-old, girl or guy, watching these movies and they're going to get excited. It's a part of our culture. We love to watch skiing.
In Whistler, I was mostly crashing at [Mark] Abma's house. I had my truck and sled and was kind of living on the road, but thankfully I was posted up at Abma's long enough to make it feel like a home away from home.
I feel like women can be a little more graceful in their skiing than men can.
This season, I told another female pro skier that was planning on putting an edit together to enter this competition and she replied, 'I didn't know girls were allowed to enter.' I'm throwing my hat in the ring. Whatever happens, I'm not too worried.