Momentum is the lifeblood of a resort—not snow, good press, or lift capacity, or even après—but the force that makes arcing into a turn the most exhilarating sensation your body can chase. The current that pulls people from modest little towns and traffic churning cities to unload their cares at the foot of a Canadian ski town and to catch a whiff of the expectations that lies ahead. The invisible energy that makes resort towns more than their best runs and brightest rippers, big claims and vital statistics.
by Lisa Richardson
This small handful of unsung and inarguably rad individuals are just a few of the people among us who have insisted with their passion and positive energy that the mountains be a place in which they can contribute meaningfully—knees deep, elbows deep, in the thick of it. Their actions give us all permission to shape the contours of our days, with snow and stoke, and a healthy dose of exhilaration.
This is Part 3 of a 5 Part series dedicated to women making a lasting imprint on mountain culture in Canada.
Leah Evans: Revelstoke’s Champion of All-Natural Stoke
As a broad-reaching program, Girls Do Ski gave Leah Evans a leadership platform. More accurately, at the age of 18, she saw a lack of obvious opportunity, and created a space for herself, her accomplished female peers and any skier girl who wanted to push her own limits. And she hasn’t looked back.
For over a decade, she has been organizing Girls Day Out freeski camps, under the banner of her brand Girls Do Ski, encouraging hundreds of women to get sendy and make the mountain their own. At the same time, she’s seen her professional career as a ski athlete and coach, and her circle, grow from strength to strength.
“Leah gave me my first paid photography job,” says Zoya Lynch. Now 26, Lynch has won the title “Queen of Storms” at Whistler Blackcomb’s Deep Winter photo competition, shot expeditions to Kyrgyztan, Nepal and Alaska, and had her worked published in the Globe and Mail, National Geographic Adventure and Powder magazine. But once upon a time, she was an 18-year-old girl, looking for a break. Evans hired her to shoot a Girls Day Out event. She didn’t have much budget. Lynch recalls her apologizing,
“I can only pay you $7 an hour.” Lynch’s response was enthusiastic. “Really? That’s great!”
When Evans was picked up by Patagonia as an athlete ambassador, a longstanding personal= dream partnership, she saw it as an opportunity to put Lynch forward. “She is so supportive. She wants everyone to succeed and is always trying to set up opportunities or make introductions for people. What she lives for is bringing people together—whether for a dinner party or a camp or a crazy trip, she likes to be the space-holder.”
“I want to be able to be a good member of a team. I like calculated decisions. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with a tribe of people who are very skilled in the mountains who I whole heartedly feel like I can trust, so in order for them to trust me I’ve tried to progress my skills.”
It’s the opposite of a scarcity mindset. And it started because there wasn’t enough space.
“I love having a community for females to ski with, and I love seeing new young female skiers arrive on the scene,” says Evans, of her pro-active approach.
“Complaining is a waste of energy, when the same amount of energy can be used to create change.”
A sports psych major, former freeski competitor, and ambassador for Patagonia, Evans is an idealist with no shortage of ideas. After founding Girls Do Ski, she instigated 12 under 20, a free Avalanche Level 1 course for girls under the age of 20, with the help of Avalanche Canada, GDS and Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
This past summer, she created a co-ed hiking camp called Airplane Mode. She says the first intentionally wifi free adventure, with guest facilitators, was “magical.”
Now, her winter schedule is jammed with expeditions, events, filming and coaching. Stints as a summer hiking guide have provided an opportunity to slow down and deepen her appreciation= for Mother Nature—something she explored publicly in the film Jumbo Wild, apprising an activist role in the quest to keep Jumbo Glacier resort-free.
“The more I learn about Mother Nature,” ponders Evans, “the more I can take care of her. I think some of us are starting to realize that we can’t keep treating the Earth like we have been. The more of us who become stewards, the better. I’m interested in creating opportunities to help connect people with nature and to repair their relationship with themselves.”
Evans has always had great soft skills. It comes easy to her to philosophise and inspire. Lately, she’s been trying to develop her hard skills in the mountains, too. “I want to be able to be a good member of a team. I like calculated decisions. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with a tribe of people who are very skilled in the mountains who I whole heartedly feel like I can trust, so in order for them to trust me I’ve tried to progress my skills.”
Ultimately, she loves being outside. And wants to bring everyone along for the most amazing ride.
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LAST COL WITH LEAH EVANS
Having grown up on the slopes of Red Mountain surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, it’s small wonder Patagonia ambassador Leah Evans chose the path of professional skier and mountain guide. Leah’s passion for the mountains is surpassed only by her drive to generate further recognition of the female freeski community, and provide a platform of support for young female athletes through her Girls do Skicamps. We recently invited Leah for Last Col…. Read more