Paving The Way: Wendy Fisher

Paving The Way: Wendy Fisher

When Wendy Fisher was a freshman in high school in Tahoe, the principal told her parents that if she missed any more school because she was skiing, he would flunk her. Rather than give up the sport, Wendy moved east to Vermont to attend Burke Mountain Academy and made the US Ski team. From there, she went to the Albertville Olympics, but she had a disappointing experience, a crash left her unable to compete. She soon relocated to Crested Butte, found the love of skiing again outside of a race course and became one of the first female athletes to dominate freeski contests, all while filming full segments with Matchstick Productions.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING ONE OF THE FIRST GIRLS TO SKI WITH THEMATCHSTICK CREW? I loved it. The best I skied was when guys were around and I could goof off and there was just a different chemistry going on there. I just made a point of not whining or not complaining too much. I don’t want to say In ever whined or I never complained or I didn’t get nervous on the top of the hill, because I did. But the guys I was filming with got to know me and started talking me into things and teaching me how to see things. I just tried to be as easy going as I could and not sweat the small stuff.

“Ingrid definitely had that aura to her that she was the next girl to make a statement in this industry and I think she has.”

WHO WAS PART OF YOUR MSP CREW? Chris Davenport and I won the 1996Extremes together and then he started filming with Matchstick and we ended up in Europe together and then Alaska together… for almost three years straight, we were on every same trip.

I also did a handful of film segments with Shane McConkey. And then I worked with Dean Cummings and a few trips with Kent Kreitler. Then it kind of shifted and I filmed a good handful with Seth Morrison. He and Chris were definitely my favorite guys to go fi lm with. Seth was really supportive. He would always say, “Wendy, you can do it.” For as little as people think he talks, he was always so sincere and supportive.

I think what helped me the most was that I already knew how to ski fast. It was just a matter of adapting it and reading the mountain. Those guys reallyhelped me try to figure out how to read a line. I learned by watching them.

WHAT WOMEN IN SKIING DID YOU ADMIRE WHEN YOU WERE GETTINGINTO THE SPORT? Kim Reichhelm was really the first one in the freeskiing world that I met. She’s the one who I did the celebrity race with and I was crying at the finishing line going, “I can not go down another frickin’ race course in my life. I’m over this.” And she invited me to Crested Butte to come visit.

I met Kristen Ulmer along the way also, and she was a very unique individual. We were really different, but it was always inspiring to meet different women like that.

And then I met Alison Gannett. All those women had been doing it already for quite a few years. So it was a quick learning process to kind of catch up to the world of freeskiing.

WHO DO YOU SEE AS HAVING PICKED UP THE TORCH FROM YOU ANDCONTINUED THE PROGRESSION OF WOMEN’S FREESKIING? I definitely remember when Ingrid Backstrom came on the scene. She came to the Crested Butte Extremes. I had stopped doing contests but you would hear abuzz about a girl here and there. Nothing ecstatic — people weren’t just raving and going off about one person in particular — but then Ingrid came on board and everyone was like, “You have to watch out for this girl.” Ingrid definitely had that aura to her that she was the next girl to make a statement in this industry and I think she has.

And, I filmed a segment with Lynsey Dyer when she was first getting onboard. We took her to the backcountry and were introducing her to airs and stuff and she was totally green to the whole freeskiing side of things, kind of like I was. She reminded me of me. And I remember filming with her and I was like, “My god, she’s a beautiful skier and I remember when she was so green and now look at her!” So she’s really impressed me.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNGER FEMALE FREESKIERS? I kind of just went with the flow. Whatever came my way that was enticing and sounded fun, I went with it. I didn’t like goals such as, “I want to make this amount of money from these companies.” I was just skiing because I was having fun doing it.

It’s as simple as follow your heart. If you feel good enough to do the contests, do them. If you’re winning them, you’re going to get noticed regardless. Sometimes you’re just a ripping chick on the mountain and people are going to notice you. Then it will trickle in the ski industry and people will be, “You have to film this girl.”


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