REVELSTOKE-BASED TRIO BURSTS ONTO AN UNSUSPECTING FREERIDE SCENE
WORDS | CASSIDY RANDALL
I first heard about “The Blondes” when pro skier and local Revelstoke legend Leah Evans posted a video on her Instagram account of stomping a wildly steep pillow line while filming for Salomon. Her caption read “My @the_blondes_ moment. I feel like it’s really important for female skiers to have at least one line in a segment where they’re showcasing what is possible on skis.”
I immediately stalked @the_blondes_ on Instagram, to stumble on what Evans and other pros like Izzy Lynch and Lexi DuPont had already discovered and begun to support: three Revelstoke-based phenoms fearlessly sending big lines, massive drops and ballsy tricks strictly for the fun of it. Still with less than 1,500 followers, they’re the next generation of wild freeriders that simply live for the powder, the beer, the crash reel—and the dirtbag glory of skiing.
Tonje Kvivik and Janelle Yipper pull up in front of the Beirhaus, Revelstoke’s local watering hole, in a faded 1990 blue Ford—a well-used sled hanging out the back collecting the slush falling from a depressing early spring sky. As we settle in with beers, I ask how they would describe the vibe of The Blondes. Their reply is interrupted as a second beat-up truck screeches to a stop outside and spills out the third member of the group, Emily Childs, who rushes for the door. “Um, fashionably late?” quips Kvevik.
The scene captures everything about these girls. Kvevik, 21, Yipper, 21, and Childs, 24, are unapologetically raw and passionately irreverent. They live the classic ski bum lifestyle, holding down several jobs, living seven to a house and spending any surplus cash on sled fuel to get them into new zones where they can truly test their limits. They have no qualms about posting their crashes, usually epic in nature and accompanied by hilarious commentary from behind the camera. They refer to themselves—only half-jokingly— as “volunteer professionals.”
The coalescing of The Blondes as a group is a typical ski town origin story. Yipper, a Calgary native and Fernie transplant with roots in slopestyle competition, and Childs, who grew up ski racing in remote Quesnel, met while testing out tricks in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s (RMR) terrain park last winter. Childs then brought in Kvevik, a Norwegian who grew up skiing the Alps and recently re-located to Revelstoke, after meeting her on top of a characteristically gnarly line while competing in a big-mountain competition at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
And yes, all three are blonde, their wild manes escaping from hasty braids stuffed into beanies and trucker hats. The stoke vibrates off of them in waves. They feed off one another with an obvious chemistry that fuels their ability to push each other to test limits in the park and on big lines. And it’s paying off: Yipper handily won RMR’s K2 Queen of the Mountain Competition last month, Kvevik competed in the Freeride World Qualifier at RMR in January and The North Face recently sponsored the trio with a gear allowance.
They’re pushing limits elsewhere, too. The Blondes were the first to have an all-female edit entered into Intersection, the prestigious film competition of Whistler’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF).
They’re still incredulous that they even pulled off an edit; in true form, The Blondes scrambled to make everything happen after being invited last-minute to submit a full film to the festival. “We got into Intersection, and then we panicked a bit,” says Childs. “We didn’t even have a filmer lined up. It was chaos. We called every rad ski chick we knew.” Linking arms with Lake Louise shredder Alex Armstrong, they tapped into B.C.’s birthing grounds of ski badassery for a crew of willing skiers: Ginny White, also from Lake Louise; Jess Hotter and Andrea Byrne from Fernie; Isabella Tvede-Jensen and Mina Itaba from Whistler; and fellow Revelstoke local Jessa Burke. They scrounged for filming equipment to supplement their iPhone shots, wrangling friends Keenan Desplanques and Justen Bruns along with their drone and cameras. With only a few days to film, they limped Childs’ old truck to Whistler, towing a scant two sleds to get the entire team of 12 into the backcountry.
The result is “Blonde Highlights,” a raw and irreverent edit (just like the Blondes themselves) that decisively won the competition’s People’s Choice Award.
When I ask them about their goals for next winter, they’re crystal clear. “We’re going to make a real movie,” says Childs. “With an actual budget.”
“Dream sponsor: Mastercard,” Kvevik chimes in.
Yipper takes a moment to reflect as she finishes her IPA. “We’ve seen what the men can do,” she says. “We’re starting to see what the women can do [by] pushing limits, and I think that’s where the sport’s going. I like the way the three of us connect and push the boundaries, and that’s what I’m stoked on.”