When developing what I wanted for Active Women, there were a couple of friends that regularly popped in my head as an image: my literal vision of who and what Active Women are. The type of people I’d like to be or be around. Rachael is one of those people. She is someone I would consider to be “The Face” of what Active Women strives to promote, the type of people I hope can inspire others and it’s this reason why Rachael is my first Awesome Active Woman.
Rachael is not a professional athlete: she’s a regular woman. She is someone who embraces life, recognizes what makes her happy, and also strives to make the best of any situation (be that in work or play). Alongside her partner, she made a conscious decision to live in a community where outdoor fun trumps climbing the corporate ladder – where “keeping up with the Joneses” translates to trying to catch your friend(s) on the down.
I was surprise at how well Rachael took to my idea of creating this site. She was intrigued and supportive and provided excellent ideas for the future of Active Women. She intuitively “gets” the concept of promoting women in a positive light and how showcasing our friends can lead to encouraging others to get outside.
And so, on a rainy December afternoon, Rach agreed to be my guinea pig for this inaugural piece and we discussed her love of snow, what being an Awesome Active Woman means, and why getting outside is such a priority (followed, of course, by a damp walk with the dogs. Neither of us can sit still for that long!).
First off, are you a biker that skis or a skier that bikes?
Definitely a skier that bikes. We moved to Rossland for the snow and love how close we are to other areas, like the Rockies.
You mention the move to Rossland and how important that was. Why?
The move to Rossland was strategic and it essentially killed two birds with one stone, allowing us to be both active and be able to afford a lifestyle that would allow us to be active. Vancouver is expensive. We knew the outdoors was a priority for us. I realized how important physical exertion was to me when I was about 24. I realized how much happier I was when I engaged in physical activity and, specifically, physical activity outside. It doesn’t particularly matter what activity I’m doing, as long as I’m doing something but I definitely notice I’m much happier when that activity takes place outside. Rossland just worked for us: the community is in the middle of a great range (the Rossland Range) and it’s a gateway to other great areas: Rockies, the Valhallas – they’re all within a weekend trip.
As a self-professed “weather nerd”, how do you manage your snow-storm chasing lifestyle with real life commitments?
It’s about dedication, discipline, and balance. It’s about recognizing that balance of working really hard but rewarding yourself with a sweet weekend. You just find the time to make it happen. In past ski seasons, I’ve been a home-based worker for various groups, doing consulting work. It’s provided me the flexibility to work a non-standard work-week. But I had to be very disciplined to work very hard during the week in order to allow myself the long weekends. I may go to the hill for most of the day but I make sure I leave by 2pm and then I work later into the evening. I find this routine (of skiing during the day) allows me to feel good, feel fresh, relaxed, and focused.
This season, I’m presently not working. I took the last year off to obtain my Masters (in Soil Sciences) and, although I am seeking work, I’m also hoping to take advantage of being a ski-bum this year. My partner regularly takes winters off as his business is a seasonal, summer business and he ends up working 60-80 hours/week.
Do you have a preference of touring versus the hill?
I admit, I’m sort of just obsessed to be out skiing in any conditions, anywhere. Snow sliding is snow sliding. I love the freedom of the hill where I can ski anywhere and just go fast. I love getting out touring and being in the mountains, experiencing real, quality skiing.
Let’s face it: winters are cold. Whether you’re ski touring, at the hill, or even snowshoeing for the first time, how do pull yourself out of that warm, cozy house and into the elements?
I think I may just have a higher level of stoke than others! I just love being out! I’m happiest outside and facing the elements but the key is to stay warm. If you’re warm, the elements don’t really matter and you can have a great day. You do have to be prepared and do your research and it does get easier with time and experience. You also have to recognize that it’s not about fashion, it’s about comfort. Bibs are NOT attractive but they are awesome and effective! Thrift stores shouldn’t be overlooked – you can find great deals there.
The weather doesn’t prohibit me from getting out, it may alter what I do, but I still get out. Weather is exhilarating. If it’s raining, get an umbrella!
It’s always intimidating trying something new, especially something like ski touring where everything just seems dangerous. What advice would you have for someone wanting to try it?
Attitude is everything. It’s important to manage your expectations. I’ve seen people basically beat themselves up, both physically and mentally, while they compare themselves to others. When you can let go of that comparison, you’ll be super happy. You need to recognize your limits and be confident in saying “I’m not comfortable doing that”. It shouldn’t be about bagging a peak or maxing out your vertical in a day, it’s supposed to be fun and the people you’re with should be supportive.
I often go out and ski with others that are way above my ability but I’ve learned how to mitigate and manage my own risks and comfort level. It’s very possible to go out with a group that is better than you or more intense than you and still ski conservatively, but you do need the confidence within yourself to speak up. I’ll often ski a slightly different line because I know I don’t need to show-off or ski the raddest line to gain respect. I’m respected because I know my limits, not because I ski the biggest.
How important is having an athletic network?
Friends are huge part. It’s about the camaraderie, the high-fives after a great day. Seeking out athletic friendships – even if it’s just one friend! – will lead to others. For women, having that friendship is really important. And there are others! There are always other women to get out with.
Why is being active so awesome?
It creates self-confidence. I’ve been able to move away from the superficial, materialistic lifestyle that consumes so many. I know what’s important to me and I know that getting outside makes me feel better. You can’t be mad when you’re outside; you’re too tired!
I also like eating what I want! I don’t feel bad mowing down on that huge burger and having a beer when I know I was out touring or biking all day. It’s tied to confidence though. I do want to look good, I like having a good body but it’s an incredible feeling to know that I propelled myself up that mountain. Knowing what your own body is capable of is empowering which creates this cycle of self-confidence.
Thanks, Roussi, for being the first “Awesome Active Woman”. You rock and always inspire me!