The Legends of Women's Snowboarding Unite - Finally

OUTSIDE ONLINE / Written by Mary Fenton

Long underappreciated, the female side of the sport has come of age with a film that isn't entirely about riding (but there's a lot of that too)

"Did I look skinny?" Canadian backcountry guide-in-training Robyn Van Gyn says after straight-lining a run wearing nothing but an avalanche  beacon. After a season with historically bad snowfall and zero access to the local backcountry outside Whistler, Van Gyn pulled in $100 on a bet and provided much-needed comedy relief for her crew on a down day from filming. 

When only 20 percent of making snowboard movie involves actual snowboarding, and the rest is spent passing time in the snow - how do you illustrate, for the uninitiated, the part of your life that most makes you you? How do you showcase the thing that has brought out the grit, joy, terror and frustration you didn't know you had in you, that led you to magical locales, real friends and a spiritual connection to nature? 

What if that thing was also a culture, movement and a sport with a unique history - one whose record might disappear if you didn't immortalize it? 

These are the challenges that pro snowboarder and filmmaker Leanne Pelosi has grapples with to direct and produce Full Moon. Shot in whimsical locations like Baldface Lodge outside Nelson, British Columbia and Alagna, Italy, with Sony HD cameras and top snowboard cinematographers, the movie ambitiously celebrates 20 year of women's snowboarding - both the action and the lifestyle. For two years, the 11 pro riders involved in making the film have released froth-worthy powder shots and webisodes to build hype across the network of 600,000 Instagram followers. On September 16th, the film premieres in Whister.

Assembling this group of women in the same film is akin to having a tailgate party attended by the top 11 quarterbacks in the NFL. Right place, right time is the least of it. Individually, each of them has fought to earn a coveted spot on an international big-brand team - teams where they are the only females. Most of them have been pro snowboarders for over a decade, having paid their dues hucking themselves on the contest circuit before earning the trust and respect of their long-term sponsors to film full-time for a paycheck. 

Prior to the internet turning anyone who can French fry with their skis into overnight GoPro heroes, a handful of high-production value companies that made money off an annual ski or snowboard film typically included a token female in their ranks. Back then, says Mike Hatchett, creator of the snowboard film series Totally Board, "the talent pool was smaller. It was difficult to find a woman to come out and hit the same jumps the guys were doing." 

"Girls have always had to prove they were good enough to be part of a men's project," pro snowboarder Marie-France Roy says. For nearly all the women who had "made it" - and landed with a dude's crew - to say "No, thanks," to a bigger production company so they could film together on a meager budget fueled mostly by Kickstarter, not Red Bull, took rolling some huge, lady-sized dice.

Leanne Pelosi. Photo: Ben Giraradi

Leanne Pelosi. Photo: Ben Giraradi

For Pelosi, it was now or never. "I was going to make this movie whether I had five dollars or thousands of dollars," she says. "Every year for the last ten years, I have to ask myself, am I going to get re-signed? What if our careers all end next year? This was our chance. We'd have more power in one film." 

It was an easy sell. "All this time we'd been missing out on having fun shredding together. Even though we weren't competitors, we were competing with each other for a chunk of bread for the majority of our careers. It was cool to finally team up," Roy says.

Full Moon is not intended to be the never-been-done shot trick-stravaganza associated with standard snow porn. It's meant to make you want to go to the mountains with friends and push yourself physically and psychologically. Still, Pelosi says the style of riding featured in the film will be a surprise to viewers. "We're all known for tricks and stuff, but we opened up a new chapter of snowboarding for ourselves by seeking out new places and riding a bigger lines - big mountains that require more patience, and learning and experience than just banging out tricks." 

The women spent their days wrestling snowmobiles three times their weight, setting a bootpack in waist-deep snow hours from civilization, and sending airs off huge cliffs. "It's just fun to just be on hill with them to witness that confidence, power, and finesse," says Barrett Christy, who appears in the film and has more X Games medals than any other female winter athlete.

For Christy and others, it's nice to finally see women's snowboarding get its due. And it's been a long time coming. "It's a short history, but we need to document it so it doesn't disappear and generations won't be forgotten," she says. "We have to have the roots to grow from."

Full Moon Film World Premiere: Recap & Impressions

SNOWBOARD CANADA / Written by Dave McKinnen

Local film project seeks to document timeline of women in snowboarding

There's been a lot of talk about Full Moon lately, and for good reason - the girls absolutely f*ckin' crushed it. But most of the coverage has been centered on the quarterback, the leading lady, the chica de la hora: the one and only Leanne Pelosi. In a couple of weeks, we're going to print an enormous stack of magazines that we feel do a pretty decent job of expressing some of the reasons Leanne is unreal, so we figured we'd spin the retrospect on Friday night a little different. Chase a new angle, you know, like Johnny Utah at the Venice pier. So we're gonna rap a bit about an element of Full Moon that's been alluded a number of times, but seldom gets unpacked. See, as much as the film is a benchmark for ladies' boarding, a check-in with the history, and a new look towards the future, it's also a crew movie - a very good one at that. 

The ladies of Full Moon, starting the adventure of their film tour. Photo: Abby Cooper

The ladies of Full Moon, starting the adventure of their film tour. Photo: Abby Cooper

The soul of Full Moon comes from friendship. The film achieves both feel and continuity, and both have the air of natural extension from the bonds between its riders. Hana, Robin, Helen, Annie, Jamie, Marie-France and Leanne are each incredible athletes and extremely rad people, but the magic rests in the way they feed off each other. They amplify each other's talents, respect each other, and as much as anything have fun together. Behind the scenes. that's the source of countless inside jokes and hashtags (#weloveit, by the way), and at the Full Moon world premiere on Friday, September 16th, it was apparent on the screen. The girls, in segments that interlude the gnarly riding in the movie, do a great job of expressing the admiration shared between the tight-knit ranks of our sport's female stars. They tell how inspiration bounces back and forth between them, and how snowboarding has grown for each of them thanks to the influence of their friends.

The mountains of Full Moon are some of the most beautiful in the world, as showcased by the premiere's gallery. Photo: Abby Cooper

The mountains of Full Moon are some of the most beautiful in the world, as showcased by the premiere's gallery. Photo: Abby Cooper

At that nexus of talent, experience, and the boosts the girls take from each other, the riding in Full Moon is insane. The ladies navigate pillow lines with finesse, adjusting between stages with quick, precise turns. When stacks are bigger and steeper (and they get crazy big and steep) the girls send straight lines into mega stomps (and sometimes hot tubs). Fast and fluid descents down enormous, wildly prominent peaks at Bella Coola Heli Sports show the unbelievable highs of Canadian freeriding, before the crew goes all out in a full blown Alaskan assault. Roller coaster sluffs greet them at the back nine of Alaska Heliskiing's tenure, and chase them down some of the most raucously technical terrain in the world. At no point does it seem like the girl's aren't up to it - they totally rip.

Nobody in the audience took their eyes off the screen. Photo: Abby Cooper

Nobody in the audience took their eyes off the screen. Photo: Abby Cooper

Full Moon is a snowboard movie more than anything, driven by the energy that comes when snowboarders find inspiration in each other. Through all of the action you see the camaraderie that makes it work. The film offers much more, of course, and in a couple of weeks we'll get back into it with issue 24.1, but for now we want to leave it at this: on Friday the 16th, we saw the women of Full Moon talking to their young female fans, and we could see that the film has already started passing on the inspiration and openness that have brought women's snowboarding to the heights of its current level. That's awesome, and alone it makes the two-year project worth it. Congratulations girls, and great work.

You better believe these premieres have afterparties - shoutout to the Longhorn! Photo: Abby Cooper

You better believe these premieres have afterparties - shoutout to the Longhorn! Photo: Abby Cooper

 

 

Chasing the Full Moon

WHISTLER QUESTION /  Written by Vince Shuley

Local film project seeks to document timeline of women in snowboarding

Leanne Pelosi sends it for the camera in Full Moon. Photo: Jussi Crznar

Leanne Pelosi sends it for the camera in Full Moon. Photo: Jussi Crznar

Leanne Pelosi is no stranger to the action sports film industry.

An 11-year Whistler resident and seasoned professional snowboarder, she's already cut her teeth in a producer role with the films See What I See and La La Land (both in partnership with Runway Films). But for her latest film project, Full Moon, Pelosi is tightening the lens of her focus to the history - and future - of women's snowboarding.

"I wanted to showcase where we've come from and where we're going with the sport," said Pelosi. "Right now, if you tried to search and find old vintage footage of women's snowboarding in particular, it's really difficult. I think it's an important step in preserving the cultural heritage of our sport."

By seeking out some of her mentors from her early days of snowboarding, Pelosi interviewed some of the sport's female pioneers such as Tara Dakides, Barrett Christy and Tina Basich. Representing the present and future wave of female riders with action footage and interviews is Annie Boulanger, Marie France Roy, Helen Schettini, Hana Beaman, Robin Van Gyn, Jamie Anderson and Pelosi herself.

"I've always had a little bit of a dream to put something like this together," said Pelosi. "I didn't actually think it would come up so fast. But I was at coffee with all my friends last Fall discussing what we were going to do and decided to all posse up. We'd never worked together before. It was cool to see that everyone was interested in joining forces."

And so the Full Moon project was born. The plan was to gather footage over two years and complete the film for fall 2016 premiere, with the 2015/16 season showcasing a lot of the Whistler backcountry. But with the poor season of snowfall last Winter, the team needed to look outside of the Pacific Northwest.

"The (snowmobile) access to the backcountry was so horrible last year that we ended up traveling," said Pelosi. "We looked at the Snow Forecast and picked Italy. It was totally different to what we were used to in Whistler. There was a lot less base and a lot more rocks, so it was more dangerous finding cliffs to jump off. I realized there are very few places as good as the Whistler backcountry, when it's good"

The team also travelled to northern B.C. for filming at Bella Coola Heli Sports, where Pelosi said they rode the biggest couloir of their lives, with some members also getting turns in Alaska.

This season the Full Moon crew hopes to make up the footage of the Whistler backcountry that eluded them last year. To help the team has put the project on Kickstarter in an attempt to raise $25,000 to help fund the hiring of a secondary cinematographer for this season, post production costs, DVD production and licensing. At press time the total donation for Full Moon was sitting at $22,360.

Pelosi sees the project as an opportunity for women snowboarders to gain recognition through film, rather than being the one female that joins a male dominant production team.

"We wanted to be the priority, that's why we joined forces together." said Pelosi. "We own all our own footage, we're in control of the creative and we've got support from the industry. I wish there would be more women in big snowboard and ski films. It's just really hard to get in to them. There's certainly enough talent; all the women in this film are definitely talented enough to be on the big screen in any film."

For more information or to back the Kickstarter, check out Full Moon Film on Facebook.

How to Spin off Natural Hits with Marie-France Roy

TETON GRAVITY RESEARCH /  Written by MacKenzie Ryan

Marie-France Roy is changing the way the world looks at women's snowboarding. Like many of the stars of the upcoming all-female shred flick, Full Moon Film, Roy calls Whistler home and spends many of her days throwing huge spins off huge features in the BC backcountry. Now she opens up about how she's progressing her backcountry freestyle prowess - and how you can too.

Face Shots all day. Photo: Marie-France Roy

Face Shots all day. Photo: Marie-France Roy

How do you line up or size up a hit? How does it speak to you and how do you decide what you'll throw off it?

Pre-drop-in stoke. Photo: Dom Gauthier / Oakley Snowboarding

Pre-drop-in stoke. Photo: Dom Gauthier / Oakley Snowboarding

"Lining up a hit and assessing the size properly is so important and something I still learn and struggle with all the time. That's the beauty of backcountry riding though! Every feature is so different and ever-changing. So it takes time and experience to figure it all out, avoid injuries, and simply to be able to ride them properly without tumbling down the whole landing.

The number one rule I learned is that if you can, unless it's a line or a fully natural hit, go scope out your landing from the top. The more angles you scope it from, the better. But scoping from the top is the most important.

A feature can look so sweet and doable from the bottom or side, and then you get up there and realize the landing is way too flat or doesn't line you up properly from the run-in to the landing.

This is why I hold so much respect for the guys who ride natural lines and don't get tricky in them every time. They don't actually get to scope at the top of their hits first, and that takes not only balls, but way more skill. So start by scoping your hits first for a long time, and slowly after a while, you can try a few natural hits that you feel confident on."

Can you talk about what it's like to throw off cliffs, cornices, wind lips, whatever else, respectively? This is, what's your trick preference for each?

MFR slashes a steep-than-it-looks spine. Photo: Ashley Barker / Red Bull

MFR slashes a steep-than-it-looks spine. Photo: Ashley Barker / Red Bull

"It all depends. Sometimes, your run in will come from a certain direction where it would be more natural to spin either backside or frontside. Sometimes, if there are trees close to your landing, you may want to do a trick you feel confident you can land first.

If the landing is really long and steep you may want to consider that if you fall, you will tumble for a while, too. Are there rocks in the landing? Where is your safest exit if something was to slide? All stuff to consider.

Also some features like cornices and some cliffs tend to be more overhanging than you think, therefore sending you way further than you expected. So it's hard to decide what trick you want to do before you take in all these factors I find. Everyone has their personal taste and inspiration of tricks they want to do on certain features too which is why the backcountry is so amazing. It allows for so much creativity!"

Can you walk the reader through your ideal feature: Run-in, approach, take-off, landing, and run-out?

Post-face-shot smile from Marie. Photo: Marie-France Roy

Post-face-shot smile from Marie. Photo: Marie-France Roy

"I love so many different aspects of the backcountry. I still have so much to learn, but I guess the perfect feature is a run that isn't so scary but instead offers a lot of cool, fun features to hit where you can feel confident to ride faster and charge harder. That's when the flow is the best and you get to progress, I find.

This year I was in Haines for my first time. It was all so new and intimidating that all I wanted to do was get to the bottom in one piece.

Slowly, as you get more comfortable of the conditions and terrain, you can work your way up, but I always take the safer approach first. I don't want to put myself or my crew in avoidable dangerous situations, either. Especially when the avalanche danger is high, you have to know when to make that call and walk away."

Can you talk about different places you love and the types of cliffs/natural hits characteristic of each place?

"One of my favorite places on Earth to ride is BC because the climate and the snow are more humid, and it creates awesome features like pillows and the gaps and rocks get covered way better than in dryer, colder climates. It also brings the avalanche risk down considerably. I love the Whistler backcountry because it offers a bit of everything. You can find the best jump spots, sweet pillow lines and freeride lines that look pretty much as gnarly as AK. We truly have the best playground and that's why it brings so many amazing riders."

Can you provide tips for a reader who wants to learn to spin and grab off natural hits?

"I think that it's all about progressing your way up. Start on mellower slopes where there are no dangers, and slowly try to go bigger, and eventually try smaller spins.

Each slope and feature is different though, so with time and practive, you will get better at reading the terrain. That's half the battle.

Even on a powder day at the resort is a great place to start practicing spinning off sidehits that have no run-ins or that are buried in pow. It's the best practice!"

 

 

Full Moon Film Stars Return to Mica

MICA HELI  /  Written by Izzy Lynch

From honoring one of Mica's 10 year returning guests to having three female snowboarding stars take over the lodge for four days, the month of March has a busy one at Mica Heliskiing! 

Marie - France in Pillow Talk while filming for Full Moon Film in January. Photo: Robin O'Neill

Marie - France in Pillow Talk while filming for Full Moon Film in January. Photo: Robin O'Neill

"We had seen so many breathtaking pictures of that place over the years, and Leanne always had Mica as a dream destination. Once we arrived, it was even better than we had imagined! It went so much further beyond our expectations. We have been manifesting other opportunities to get back!"  said Marie-France Roy shortly after their January shoot.

Low and behold, two months later a friend they had made while filming at Mica called them up and offered a few last minute spots that had come available on a tour he had booked in March.

"This is a dream" said Leanne as the girls returned to the lodge with another one of their best friends and fellow riders Annie Boulanger.

The March trip delivered with great stability and fresh snow. Dressed to the nines in retro outfits, the ladies inspired the guest audience by shredding each run with amazing style. (And slashing as many skiers as the could along the way).

Leanne getting her daily slash. Photo: Kent Vertrees

Leanne getting her daily slash. Photo: Kent Vertrees

To find out more about their project and what they thought of the Mica Experience, I caught up with Marie and Leanne. Riding high after the great success of her recent film The Little Things and a number of accolades in the snowsports industry including three Transworld Snow Awards; Women's Video Part Of the Year, Women's Rider Of the Year and the Climate Activist Award, Presented by Protect Our Winters, Marie could not be more excited to be living her dream as a professional snowboarder and filming with some of her closest friends. This is the third film Leanne has produced and she is ecstatic to be joining creative forces with such a talented crew of riders. "This is a passion project, and I hope we nail it."

What inspired Full Moon Film?

Leanne: "I've always wanted to get a dream team together. The stars aligned this year and it's time to showcase a story that hopefully can inspire the next generation to get outside. It just seemed like all the women who are a part of this film wanted to do it, so here we are with an insane lineup of riders. We had a meeting at the beginning of the season and came up with the name Full Moon because we were joking that this type of crew would only ever get together on a full moon! 

I'm hoping to connect the past, present, and future of women's snowboarding. We are focusing on a very specific crew of talented riders in the backcountry, and hopefully through this we can inspire more girls to join us out there!"

Who is involved with it and what can we expect to see?

MFR:  "You can expect a lot of rad footage from our heroes like Tara Dakides, Barrett Christy, Victoria Jealouse, Natasza Zurek...along with some present riding from Leanne, myself, Robin Van Gyn, Annie Boulanger, Helen Schettini, Jamie Anderson and more.

Leanne: "We can expect to see more of a crew dynamic/documentary approach. There won't be specific rider segments, we really just want to showcase what snowboarding is...it's not about one person. Our crew is riding together throughout the next two seasons and there's definitely an amazing camaraderie that we have. There's a general theme that will encompass the film and I hope it inspires others to get outside to do what they love.

What do you gain from riding with other women?

MFR: "I enjoy riding with these girls because we are at a point where we know each other really well now and know how to push each other while having the best time ever as friends. It's amazing.

Leanne: "My motivation comes from within, whether I'm riding with women or men, it doesn't matter. However, when I see women pushing their boundaries I am extremely inspired. 

What is your riding style?

MFR: "I like to bring freestyle into a freeride environment.

Leanne: "I like to snowboard on things that aren't in it's natural state. My favorite type of riding is seeing creative features in the backcountry and then figuring out how to ride it. I prefer not to ever build cheese wedges!"

Did Mica live up to your expectations?

Leanne: "The pillows were beyond amazing, not only the terrain but the insane brand new lodge exceeded any expectations. The lodge staff was also extremely down to earth and really, really fun. It's all about the little things, and one of the coolest things about Mica was that they had the world's biggest tickle truck. We made use of that quite a few days :)"

Marie - France & Leanne after a successful shoot in January. Photo: Robin O'Neill

Marie - France & Leanne after a successful shoot in January. Photo: Robin O'Neill

Leanne milking the March Pow. Photo: Kent Vertrees

Leanne milking the March Pow. Photo: Kent Vertrees

Keep your eyes peeled for these women as they manifest their dreams and take the snowboarding world by storm with @fullmoonfilm

Robin Van Gyn's Keys to Guiding in the Backcountry

TETON GRAVITY RESEARCH / September 25, 2015

Written by MacKenzie Ryan

Robin Van Gyn just returned to Canada after a busy season of working for SASS Global Travel in Argentina. The Whistler-based pro snowboarder splits her time between filming and guiding in the backcountry. She also lent her combo of riding and guiding skills to the all-female backcountry snowboarding flick, Full Moon Film, coming out next fall. 

Van Gyn was kind enough to give us some beta about how to become a guide, keep your clients safe, and still push your riding. Here's what she had to say.

#1: If a lady shred wants to get into guiding, how can she go about doing that? 

It's a process, for sure, It differs between Canada and the US and Europe, so it's best to start doing research right away. Ian not even a "full" guide yet. I am still working on logging hours on snow and doing what I can to get there.

Start with a professional-level avalanche certification and a relevant medical certification like a Wilderness First Responder or Outdoor Emergency Care. Next, get some time on snow with experienced people, and observe and listen.

Monster backside slash. Ben Girard Photo

Monster backside slash. Ben Girard Photo

It's all about being aware, taking in all the info you can get, and applying it to the things that you are seeing and feeling.

I am really early in the game as a guide. I take orders and openings with clients from someone else who has much more experience than I do. That is the process. We learn from people who have more experience in avalanche terrain and try to pay attention to what they are doing and TAKE NOTES.

Keeping (clients) safe has a lot to do with communication on terrain, snow, and ability. If we know what we are getting into and what clients are capable of, the decision-making becomes a lot easier. There is always something to learn. To challenge our clients, we see where they have room for improvement. It might be terrain. There is always something to learn, even in the mellowest of terrain. 

Safety First, even when it comes to big spins in the Whistler backcountry. Ben Girard Photo

Safety First, even when it comes to big spins in the Whistler backcountry. Ben Girard Photo

#3: How did that guiding and risk mitigation experience come into play as you shot Full Moon Film? 

Full Moon is filled with strong women who can all stand on their own feet when it comes to knowing the snowpack and being aware of the risks, etc. We all check the weather for the day, the avalanche bulletins. We are ready and efficient with all our gear. This makes everything pretty easy when it comes to decision-making as a crew. 

I communicate what I know with them and them with me, and it becomes easy to move as a crew safely in the mountains. I think we could benefit from more practice with rescue, but I am also confident that any one of them would be totally prepared. 

I think human factors are more of a risk for us. Knowing the cameras are on, being competitive with each other, and going to terrain we are really familiar with are all things we need to think about. These are things that are common and hard for film crews to avoid in many cases. When the cameras are out, it's obvious that sometimes we are willing to accept more risk. That can also become a problem. The mountains will humble us so quickly.

#4: Can you elaborate on your split role as a guide and a pro snowboarder?

Like I said, I am not quite a "full" guide, but the process has really helped me in snowboarding. It made perfect sense for me to supplement snowboarding with guiding. Moving towards that goal has taught me so much. 

It starts with being scared of everything and then learning to trust you experience and your gut. As backcountry  athletes, we sell the lifestyle and our sponsors' products that go along with that type of snowboarding. I think at some point I saw the disconnect between pushing people to go there and then realizing that they may or may not have the tools to do it safely. This really pushed me to try to encourage other people to get some sort of training, basic or advanced, to coincide with what I was selling as a lifestyle.

Hiking for the Goods. Ben Girardi Photo

Hiking for the Goods. Ben Girardi Photo

#5: Can you talk about guiding and riding the backcountry in foreign countries where you might not have avalanche forecasting? 

Without having a resource like the Canadian Avalanche Association, we have to rely more on all the inputs we are given or collecting to make decisions. Whether it's terrain, weather, snowpack, or our crew, we have to really take all the information we get. Then we just get our hands in the snow and feel and see what it's doing. 

That being said, I don't think you can totally rely on forecasting to know exactly what's going on in a specific area that you are planning to travel. It's a HUGE resource. It can provide great info, but it's a blanket. We need to do some footwork wherever we travel anyway. There are too many variables to say, "It will be safe here because the forecast said so."

By no means do I feel like I can go anywhere in the world and take people out safely in avalanche terrain. I am not there yet. I have so much more to learn before I would feel comfortable doing that. It takes so much experience to be able to pull all the parts together.

Outrunning sluff in Haines, AK. Phil Tifo Photo

Outrunning sluff in Haines, AK. Phil Tifo Photo

#6: How do you help clients manage their fear in the backcountry? Their expectations? Your own?

Fear is a good thing. It keeps us in check. It's there for a reason. It's all about communication. If we are all clear and honest about what's going on, understanding where we are going and what we are doing becomes that much easier.

Leading other people is a totally different thing. You have to step out of your normal snowboarding mind and go into a different mode. There is less room for error. As long as you are aware of hazards, whether it's terrain, snowpack or guide attitudes, you have the ability to recognize that. Then the decision-making within that leadership role becomes more straight forward.

Leanne Pelosi's Guide to Big Mountain Line Selection

TETON GRAVITY RESEARCH / Written by MacKenzie Ryan

October 27,  2015

Pelosi in Alberta. @picobac/Travel Alberta Photo

Pelosi in Alberta. @picobac/Travel Alberta Photo

Leanne Pelosi has been pushing the limits of women's snowboarding for over a decade. She's also the visionary behind Full Moon Film. We picked her brain about how she approaches big lines and why she thinks it's important for women to be filming in the backcountry. Here's what she shared.

#1: How does a line attract you? Are there particular features you tend to like and go for? 

Scoping. Annie Boulanger photo

Scoping. Annie Boulanger photo

I like to look at a line and usually pick out something with one thing to focus on. i love pillow lines, although getting them in good conditions is particularly hard because there needs to be a fresh dump on them.

Something to pay attention to whether a line is convex or not. It's always completely different being on top of something, and it's really easy to get lost if there's a convex roll in there. When you're riding a line for the camera there really needs to be no hesitation, or it shows and you blow a shot. So I try to pick something I know I can do with confidence and have fun with it.

#2: Can you talk about how this line choice process differs when you're in a hell vs. sled vs. hiking up something?

Assessing from the top in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Annie Boulanger photo

Assessing from the top in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Annie Boulanger photo

When you're heli-ing, finding a line is a stressful because you look at a face, and pretty much decide in a few seconds whether you want to do it or not. Otherwise you might as well just throw some dollar bills into the rotor. 

There's so much to take in. When you look at something from a hell, the perspective is so different. Usually we end up picking lines that are a bit big for us, because from the hell it doesn't look that big. Then you get on top of it and you're like, "Shit. I should have maybe looked at something else!" But then when it works out, you're more stoked than you've ever been! I think that's what half the excitement with filming with a hell is. The entire process is fast. 

Hiking is a good way to really feel the snowpack en route to the top. This is definitely the slowest process, but it's enjoyable because you're really earning your turns. It makes you feel good about yourself! I like having the time to visualize what I'm going to jump off, so I'll go over it in my head a few times while hiking. 

Sledding is my favorite way to approach the backcountry. I think it's a good mix of actually getting to the zone, seeing the conditions, and being on a less intense schedule than heli-ing. Then you add a bit of hiking in there too. You have all your energy by the time you're on top of something waiting to drop in. I like that you can check a spot from multiple angles really quickly.

#3: Can you talk about any sort of research you do about new zones, guides you talk to, and any other preparation that goes into where you choose to ride big lines?

Looking at pictures of zones and talking to guides helps. We really go to places based on the specific terrain they have. We went to Mica Heli this past year because we heard the had the best pillow zone in the world, and it was true. We just hit the top of the iceberg. But on top of that, checking out avalanche.ca is super important. It's not worth it to me to put our lives on the line for a powder day. There's always another day.

#4: How have you progressed from say, five or ten years ago in terms of the kind of terrain you're riding and how you're riding it?

3, 2, 1, Dropping. Leanne Pelosi Photo

3, 2, 1, Dropping. Leanne Pelosi Photo

I definitely have learned so much! It's a constant learning process. When I originally went out to the backcountry, I was scared shitless. I wasn't used to not being able to see my landings. It's so crazy because I had no problem hitting a 60-foot jump in an icy park. 

And now, since I've spent so much time out here. It's the complete opposite. In 2012, I rode with my boyfriend and his brother all season, and I started loving jumping off big cliffs. That's probably my favorite thing to find: a few turns into a big cliff. 

This year we didn't get to ride much that allowed us to jump off much because of the snowpack, so instead Annie Boulanger and I rode the biggest couloirs of our lives in Bella Coola. There's always a progression happening, even if it's not trick-based. We rode some of the biggest lines ever, but we kept it on the ground, and I would still consider that progression. 

#5: How do you orient yourself on a top-to-bottom run as you're riding, and what's your mindset throughout it?

Leanne Pelosi's version of a selfie. Leanne Pelosi Photo

Leanne Pelosi's version of a selfie. Leanne Pelosi Photo

It's a memorization game. You look at a line from as many angles as possible. Pick out the smallest bumps that could potentially affect the way you'd ride it. 

Then you just visualize how it'll work out perfectly. You make quick decisions even if it's not what you planned, because snow moves. Things look different. You just have to have quick thinking and be able to adapt to different conditions. 

#6:) Why did you decide to create Full Moon Film? What was the impetus behind it? Why did you choose the riders you did? 

I wanted to involve our entire community to build this project, from the past to the present to the future. Everyone has an inspiration, so it'll be cool to showcase how we are all connected.

Our industry needs to preserve our cultural heritage. It was just perfect timing to do something like this, especially since the media landscape has changed so much. So we are going into the archives to bring it back to life and pay tribute to that path that led us here. And as far as the crew goes, it speaks for itself. 

It was a bit of a no-brainer since most of us live in Whistler, and we've all become good friends over the years. It's been great because we've never all worked together as one. The energy everyone brings to the table is far beyond anything I could have ever created for myself. Power in numbers!

#7: You've talked really openly about how female riders get stuck on the comp scene and can't really break into filming. Why do you think this happens? How do you think riders could break out of that? How do you think that sponsors and media houses could meet them halfway? 

Well it's true. It's really hard to pursue a career in the backcountry and/or street because there's not as much support there. It seems so backwards for women, because on the men's side, the film stars are huge priorities for the industry. 

We are trying to change that, give some inspiration, and showcase that there's a lifestyle worthy for these stories to be told. I just want this to be an avenue where the contest girls can jump over the fence and make something happen. 

It's definitely a lot more work, and a lot less immediate gratification, but there's something about the serenity out there that just makes you happy. The progression and creative possibilities are endless. You could spend an entire lifetime out there and still want more. 

I'm so happy that Jamie Anderson wanted to film with us. Her mental game is so strong, so when she went to AK with MFR, Helen and Robin, she held her own. She definitely has a lot to learn, but she just put herself in one of the most challenging mountain ranges, which is going to expand her mind from the start. 

When we bring her out to the Whistler backcountry, which is a little more playful than the big mountain lines in Alaska, I think she's going to shine. It's exciting and I want to encourage the other girls to come out too! Spencer O'Brien, Christy Prior...yes, I'm calling you ladies out.