Get to Know Utah’s Fearless Big-Mtn Shredder Vanessa Aadland: Skiing Mt. Superior “BN” (Butt-Naked)

Comments by Leah Fielding/

Big-mountain ripper and Surface Skis athlete, Vanessa Aadland, of Alta, UT, decided to hike up and descend Utah’s Mt. Superior earlier this month in nothing but what God gave her: her skin (and a beacon and pack, of course, for backcountry safety). This excursion was purely for fun and adventure, as well as a tribute to her freeskiing heroes.

Naturally, she posted the photo of her standing at the summit (as seen here) on Facebook and immediately received a torrent of comments about her body. It’s a difficult line to walk, she said; she wanted to encourage women to “go for it” and “keep up with the guys,” but she also sees the potential hypocrisy (i.e. women showing some skin to get ahead). Ultimately though, she accomplished a difficult (and chilly) goal at the top of Superior. Plus, she’s simply following in her hero’s footsteps: let us not forget that Shane McConkey was the original naked skier. And if anything, Vanessa closed the gap in the game of G.N.A.R. points with Dex Mills naked double back flip.

FS: Your most recent claim to ski industry fame was hiking up and skiing Superior (across valley from Snowbird Ski Resort) naked. Give us the dirt: How did that become a reality? Is this something you wanted to do for awhile? Who took the picture? What did it feel like to accomplish what some are saying is one of the most significant G.N.A.R. points feat of recent?

VA: Well first of all, I'm really happy I got the chance to ski Superior naked! I thought it was one of the most exhilarating, freeing things I've ever done. I’ve wanting to do it for a while and one random evening I convinced my twin brother Tony to go with me early the next day. When I was on the ridge and the wind was howling I didn't really want to do it anymore but in honor of my friends and heros who have passed I bucked up and went for it. Two heroes in particular were Shane McConkey who lived and loved life to the max and Ryan Hawks who had a contagious passion for life. I'm so in love with the way they made life a good time, I only hope I can do as many fun and crazy things before I die! I definitely don't think I'm nearly as “rad” or “gnar” as them and that's why they are my heroes.

FS: The picture of you at the top of Superior—butt naked— received a lot of hits on Facebook, some comments supportive and some critical. Were you surprised by people's reactions?

VA: I didn't think too much about the consequences of putting the photo up on Facebook, I just did it and assumed people would get a laugh. I was shocked at how quickly the photo spread across the Internet (and the ski industry). Unofficial Networks, Teton Gravity Research, New Schoolers, She Jumps, The Ski Diva, Mountain Riders Alliance and Jackson Hole all posted about me, Red bull tweeted about it, and Scott Gaffney (co-creator of G.N.A.R. “Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness”) himself contacted me to give me props. That day Unofficial's site got 7,000 views, a record for them by far and over 1,000 people shared the photo on their Facebook. I've seriously been doing non-stop interviews for the last few weeks.

But it's true, once the photo hit the brutal forums of the ski industry, not everyone was as impressed. After reading forum after forum the direction of the comments had nothing to do with why I skied naked. When “just having some fun” turned into a debate about whether my figure was worthy of some Internet ski bro to “hit it” was frustrating to say the least. I don't care much about that especially since there was waaaay more positive comments than negative. A ton of people wrote to me giving me props and saying “I don't know you, but you’re my hero!” Another girl said “If that girl doesn't have a nice ass, the whole social media/ski scene better hope to God that I never decide to ski something naked and post the pictures on the Internet!”

FS: You're currently in New Zealand, what's the scene like over there? What are your plans for their winter?

VA: I've been living in a small mountain town called Wanaka and it's awesome! I had never been to NZ before and had heard only good things, so I decided to give it a go. So far, everyone is really cool and it's been one big party while we wait for the snow. I'm living in town with four of the raddest girls from all over the world in a cute home we call “the doll house.” Lake Wanaka is so beautiful, when I'm running along the trails I feel like I'm in a movie. I just got a job at a kabob shop right in town on the lakefront. While here, I hope to ski in some big mountain comps, like the World Heli Challenge in August, one I've wanted to do for a few years now.

I would like to compete in the Subaru FWT stops in South America, but you can't do it all. I've been going to SA the last few summers so I thought it would be cool to switch it up a bit.

FS: A little known fact about you: you've dropped (the infamous) Fat Bastard cliff at Jackson Hole. What was that experience like?

VA: Yea, I hit fat bastard three years ago. Fat-ypus, my first sponsor, payed for a team trip to Jackson. It was the last day of the trip and we hadn't got anything done. I was pretty hungover, my binding was broken—so my boot was knocking around—and the snow wasn't blower by any means. All the sudden the light kinda popped, and it was on. I had never heard of this famous cliff but, yeah, when I saw it I was pretty nervous. I hiked above it to check it out and next thing I knew I was counting down for take off. It's still the biggest cliff I've ever hit. I would like to hit it again and go for the stomp.

FS: What do you say to ladies in the ski industry? What does it take? Any advice, or tips?

I'm glad you asked me this! Ladies, don't let the critics in the industry get you down. People are going to hate, judge, and critique you no matter what, so stay true to your self and just have fun! While others spend their time hating on silly forums, go out and give it all you got. Don't be afraid to fall, and don't get embarrassed when you do. If you surround your self with people who support and love you, the importance of impressing everyone else dissipates.

Also, stay positive and determined. So many people have told me I'm so lucky, but I've seriously worked my ass off with sometimes up to three jobs, had injury after injury, done terrible in competitions but never gave up. I've slept on an endless amount of couches, sold everything and lost jobs, friends and heroes, but I NEVER stopped loving skiing. It's not all cupcakes and smiles, but if you want it bad enough you'll make it happen… and when you finally do, it feels so good. If I am lucky, then I'm lucky that the people in my life have taught me (and encouraged me) to do what I love, so in that sense I'm the most blessed girl ever!

And one last thing, DREAM BIG! Sounds cheesy, but before I had any recognition, I would constantly day dream about how awesome it would be to have sponsors from head to toe and have a poster of me skiing, then it happened.

Check out the “BN” Superior run in Vanessa’s own words on her ski bum blog: vanessaaadland.com

Check out the full photo gallery.

_____________

va_bn_mt._superior_0.jpg