Combines Skiing and Art to Inspire and Motivate
By Elise Douglas
Who would have imagined the two-year-old toddler in a pair of skis would grow up to become the 2011 Female Skier of the Year? Now imagine this established athlete as an artist, photographer and motivator.
Mix all of these ingredients together and what do you get? An accomplished woman who uses her natural artistic talent, honed athletic skills and feminine grace to reach out and urge others to not only feel and face their fears but also to learn how to embrace them – using that energy for personal empowerment.
Such is the setting for the start of what has become the legacy Lynsey Dyer is creating for herself. While motivating others through her own personal experiences, she encourages individuals to recognize their emotions and welcome the role they play in one’s pursuit of genuine happiness.
She emphasizes that fear, the number one reason why people do not pursue their goals, should be interpreted as a powerful tool, not an excuse to abandon a goal. The sensation of fear is present to either protect you from that which may bring you harm (your intuition) or, more often than not, to provide the very strength one needs to conquer the fear in question and accomplish the goal at hand.
Through her amazing freestyle, risk-taking, extreme skiing career, Lynsey has faced many moments where fear was an ever-present possible deterrent. As she explained to me, it was when she focused on the doubt the fear had instilled, that she experienced the most injuries and difficulties in her skiing adventures.
Taking her eye off the goal, becoming distracted by what may happen, she inadvertently created the opportunity for disaster to strike. Several severe injuries and many life lessons later, Lynsey brings her enthusiastic message for a life of happiness, despite the challenges, to others. As she sums it up, her goal is “to connect people to their magnificence through a shared experience.”
And so I asked her to tell me about her beginning as an extreme skier, her art and the nonprofit organization she supports, SheJumps, as they all tie (somehow magically) together.
BFM: What inspired you to become an extreme skier and were you ever afraid of heights?
LD: No, heights were never an issue, only overcoming my own doubts. Get- ting a real job inspired me to become an extreme skier. I had played by the rules of society; studied art abroad in Europe for a year followed by attend- ing an Ivy League college for graphic design and realized I was not happy. I was a sophomore in college when I hit my lowest low, you know, the kind you cannot ignore. I realized this low point could be used to inspire me, not defeat me. I thought back to when I was young watching ski films. I became motivated and started training that same day. Within two years, I had accomplished my goal of being part of inspiring others through film.
BFM: How do you feel your art and skiing style relate to not only each other but also to you?
LD: I am a free spirit. I was a contender for the Olympics, but the style of skiing I prefer is less structured. Some people call it an “artsport” leaving your make on a pristine what canvas of snow and therefore, not an Olympic event. I love free skiing, often referred to as “extreme skiing,” because I can choose my own line, which provides a sense of freedom and an opening for creativity. The art offers the creative outlet I need to translate the vastness of the mountains and the connection with something much bigger than ourselves. Between the two of them, I am able to capture and outwardly express the surreal moments where I am weightless, defying the rules of gravity, with glitter all around me and the clarity of mind that says, “Yes, you can!” – and I love that.
BFM: Yes, while watching footage from some of your adventures I have definitely felt the weightlessness myself and understand why you love combining your experiences with art. I have also watched the clip for your film, Pretty Faces, how is that going and when is it due out?
LD: It is going great! It is slated for release in 2014 and we have every big-name female athlete participating somehow and we also invited the general public to contribute footage for consideration in the film. We love to see pieces that include moments like Mom or Dad teaching their daughter how to ski, and all of the trials and tribulations that go along with it, or maybe a group of friends hanging out by the fire reliving their favorite shreds. Scenes that depict the lifestyle of skiing that include the issues of learning the sport as well as hot-tubbing parties and après ski moments. It is an opportunity to share the mountain lifestyle with those who might not otherwise get a chance to experience it.
BFM: That sounds like fun, not only to watch, but also to be a part of. And speaking of fun, I know you are one of the Co-Founding Directors, along with Claire Smallwood and Vanessa Pierce, of SheJumps, an international organization that’s mission is to increase female participation in out- door activities. What inspired you to start SheJumps, which launched in 2006?
LD: Three things, really. First is to create a sense of community for girls and women of all ages where they can come together with their friends, make new friends and share magical experiences. Skiing is often an individual sport, but this brings the activity and the camaraderie of teams together, eliminating intimidation for those who are either new to the sport or for those who have questions and wish to advance to the next skill level.
The second is to recognize and celebrate what women are doing at the highest levels to create better role models for young girls and other women. Instilling the “Yes, I can!” attitude and eliminating the limited, often subtle, messages frequently received from family members, friends and society of what they are capable of. These innuendos commonly applied to the female gender have proven detrimental to many girls’ self-esteem and thwarted their faith in themselves that they can succeed.
And third is to create programming for the “Never Evers” to offer kids the chance to experience the empowerment of challenging oneself, such programming as is available online at SheJumps. org/about. Through these activities, we have seen so many beautiful individuals build relationships and recognize they were capable of so much more than they thought they were. It is truly magical.
BFM: What an exciting way to bring people together. I see activities such as biking, hiking, snowboarding, skiing and kayaking. Are there other activities also available via arranged outings?
LD: Yes, climbing and surfing are two others, but really we want to include anything outdoors. For our “Get the Girls Out” events, we love to have as much fun as possible and encourage participants to come in a costume. One of our favorites is when every- one donned a tutu over their skiing attire and, pony-tails waving in the wind, shredded down the mountain!
BFM: I noticed that SheJumps just started “Youth Initiatives” this summer for girls between the ages of 6-18. How is that going? Are the camps stay camps or day camps?
LD: We’re off to a great start and still fine tuning some details. The camps right now are day camps where the kids may come for a few days to learn how to ski, things like that. We are also planning an all inclusive yoga/ski trip in India for next winter – that will be a stay camp and is open to both males and females; details are still in the works.
BFM: Does SheJumps work with any schools for field trips, workshops or classes, and if not, do they have plans to?
LD: Absolutely. We want to reach out and help kids learn how to tap into their potential and discover what they are capable of doing and encourage them to strive to achieve what their heart desires.
BFM: I love the overall concept of this organization, and what better setting to learn these lessons than in the unpredictable, magnificent outdoors. The map of the USA on She-Jumps.org shows all areas defined as a region except the very central portion. Is SheJumps active there and if not, when do you expect it to become active?
LD: We are growing in “the middle” and have contacts scattered throughout but are open to anybody who wants to get involved with us to bring some of our programming to life in their region. We are actively seeking volunteers and would love for others to ‘jump in’ and let us know they want to share in this amazing experience.
BFM: If someone is interested in volunteering, whom do they contact?
LD: You can learn more about our programming initiatives online at SheJumps.org/our-programs and contact us there.
BFM: Where is SheJumps internationally?
LD: New Zealand, France and Germany, with expansion on the horizon.
BFM: What are the goals for SheJumps over the next five to ten years?
LD: In the next five to ten years, SheJumps intends to continue to realize our mission and expand our reach through our program- ming. We’re about 6,000 strong and the sky is the limit! Everyone can benefit from being active in the outdoors. All women of all ages – stripes and abilities.
BFM: The symbol for SheJumps, the Girafficorn, is the combination of a giraffe and the unicorn. I understand the unicorn symbolizing magic, but what does the giraffe represent?
LD: The giraffe reminds me to keep my head up, above any obstacles, and to keep my eye on the goal. I was sitting at my computer one night working on a design project. It was late, around 3 a.m., and I was staring down a deadline without any indication of progress. I was too tired to keep trying when all of a sudden the Girafficorn appeared and just happened. I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I knew she was exact and I was so excited! There are so many reasons in life to quit and give up; excuses about how circumstances aren’t right such as not enough money, time, experience, etc. I realized that circumstances will never be just right if you sit around and wait for them.
BFM: I agree. She is fun and brings a great message for all of us to remember. On a personal note, who were two of your strongest female role models and how have they inspired you?
LD: Jane Goodall, when I was young, and my cousin A.J. Cargill. She pushed me out from college and encouraged me to go for it – to take my dreams and make them my reality.
BFM: I’m a pushover for great, inspiring quotes. Do you have a favorite quote and if so, who said it?
LD: Yes, I do. “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstances.” – Bruce Barton.
For more information on SheJumps, a Salt Lake City based 501(c)3, please visit SheJumps.org or check them out at “shejumps. org” on Facebook.
And, for those of you who have always wanted to test the waters (or the rush of fresh powder beneath your skis) but only dared to dip in a toe, consider the opportunities available with this exciting organization. If you are ready to share the adventure with other girls and women of all ages, meet amazing females, make new friends, and discover your personal inner strengths, then go to SheJumps. org, check out the programs and activities available and… jump in!