Five Underrated Big Mountain Skiers | Girl Edition

We’ll claim it, there are more ripping ladies right now than any other point in the sport’s history. But here’s the thing, you’d never know it. Although the fairer sex may be on a never-before-seen level, there isn’t much in the way of exposure (on snow that is). We’ve put together a list of girls who we see as “the dark horses” of the sport. Girls you likely haven’t heard of. Girls that make all the guys run to the nearest tall boy of PBR with their tails between their legs to somehow forget the ass whooping they’ve been handing. Girls that absolutely kill it…


Truth is we have no problem with half naked yoga, skiers modeling in surf mags, FHM centerfold girls or cheesy Youtube videos with more girl dancing than skiing. However, these are all byproducts of something we hope to see first and foremost. Girls shredding. Hard. Thing is, in a sport populated primarily by dudes, the gals that turn heads are going to  be the same girls that look good in a bikini. And if your goal as a marketer is to sell shit, and good looking girls get the views…well, we aren’t mathematicians but its pretty easy to put 2 and 2 together.

This is “free”skiing. A sport where marketing dollars control who is and isn’t pro*, not talent, hard work and passion alone. It would be silly to think “the best” girls, through and through, are the ones with the real contracts under their belts. (hint, they aren’t) Its a frustrating line to walk for the gals. If you are an unreal skier but struggle with Instagram, don’t know every photographer in town, have fewer than 1000 “friends” on facebook, aren’t overly narcissistic and would rather go skiing than wait on “perfect light” all day you’ll probably never find your way to big name sponsorship. Of course we’re speaking in generalities, but this is the harsh reality of the “pro” situation.

We’ll be the first to say, it does work different for the guys. To prove my point, I’m personally working on a video where I do Pilates in a speedo, send a few big airs and blow kisses to the camera. We’ll see how it does but I’m guessing no big name labels are knocking down my door anytime soon. On the plus side, my iced lightening look has come to garner a life all its own.

With that being said, here are 5 skiers that we applaud for letting their skiing do the talking. 5 Girls that don’t care about the game. 5 Skiers who rip. 5 Skiers you probably have never heard of.  5 skiers we’d like to see given some exposure based on their shredding alone.

Editor’s Note: The Following was put together with MUCH help by SheJumps‘ very own Liz Cunningham. It would be silly for a group of dudes to select the most underrated gal skiers. So we asked for help. From all of us at Earlyups, THANK YOU LIZ!

Disclaimer: Finding content for a lot of these chicas was challenging. The videos below do not do these skiers justice even in the slightest. Still, we wanted to embed them in the case anyone is interested in checking it out. These chicks are shredders first. Not media development gurus.

Sydney Dickinson – Crested Butte, CO

From Liz

“Sydney is easily the best and most underrated skier out there. After nearly eight years of dropping the knee, she locked her heel this year and now there is no chance in keeping up with her. Residing in Crested Butte with her baddass husband Rob, this Colorado native is the most humble and giggly skier to ride with. Her form is aggressive yet graceful and she can stomp a cliff better than most. Even though CBMR is in her backyard, she’d rather strap on the skins and head out for a hike to earn her turns. This woman is a true year-round mountain athlete, tearing it up on her mountain bike in the summer. If you’re in Crested Butte, and you get chicked on the slopes- it’s probably by Sydney.”

Our take

Sydney is one of the girls we around the office know fairly well. We were blown away by her tele ability and quiver in fear now that she’s locked her heel. In fact, we’ve created a board of excuses just in the case we have to go ski with her. There are two categories. “Reasons we got dropped” and “Reasons we can’t go out with her”. This way, when we get chicked, we can still mantain our male ego. Yeah, she’s good. And being married to dark horse Rob Dickinson doesn’t hurt either…



Hazel Wilson-Birnbaum – South Lake Tahoe, CA


From Liz

“If you were to ask Hazel “What’s the one thing you want to do for the rest of your life?” She would say simply, to ski. Originally from Moose Pass, Alaska, she grew up rambling in the mountains and loving every minute of it. With this in her heart, she moved to Tahoe to see what the fable Sierra Nevada had to offer. After ski patrolling for eight seasons at Kirkwood Resort, she decided to take on a more competitive approach and compete on the 4* World Tour Qualifier North American events (FWQ). She tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus in 2010, and this last season she was hungry to stay strong and finish well despite previous injuries. Out of three events, she had a 3rd and a 4th place finish and ended up placing 5th overall for women on the 4* FWQ.  Just this week, she was down in Chile for the FWQ and just won First Place AND the Sickbird award! We’re so stoked for her success and wish her well this next season! Keep your eye out for this girl!

Our Take

This girl just looks like she’s having a  blast on snow. And that in and of itself is infectious. Her POV edit is one of the best we’ve seen on the female side and she clearly has dedication to the sport; working through injury, patrolling and competing. Plus, she just took the win down in Chile. She’s poised to do big things…


Hadley Hammer – Jackson, WY


Born and raised in Jackson, WY, the Hammer clan seems to have skiing in their genes. Sister of (ripping) big mountain shredder Max Hammer, Hadley consistently killed the qualifier tour last year culminating with a first place finish at Moonlight. So much so, she’s been given a ticket to the big show for this coming year. Ms. Hammer had the good fortune growing up in Jackson which has translated to an uncanny sixth (sick?) sense while skiing fast in big terrain. Girlfriend of big mountain pro and one of the smartest guys in the sport, Griffin Post, she’s done a great job surrounding herself with some of the best. And guess what? We’ve found if you surround yourself with the best, you usually find yourself becoming one of the best. Funny thing about Hadley (and a number of girls on this list) is she could probably play the ski bunny card to great success if she so decided to. But she lets her skiing do the talking. Put in her own words…

“…the most frustrating element for me is the ski bunny element. There’s quite a lot of amazing girls in this sport, and quite a lot of girls that go through the sport just being a pretty face for photo shoots. The level of skiing for girls isn’t always raised as quickly as it is for boys, because a lot of girls can get sponsorship and money and exposure just with their looks.”

Sasha Dingle – Bozeman, MT


From Liz

If you met Sasha, you’d describe her as a lovely, unassuming individual. Originally from Vermont but now residing in Bozeman, MT, Sasha splits her year with biking and professional freeskiing and fills in her other time with leadership development and community initiatives around the world. Her favorite quote that she resonates with is “even mountains vanish”. “My greatest feelings of accomplishment take place on mountains, and more metaphorically; mountains symbolize the individual achievements that make up our lives. But such ‘mountains’ matter for the meaning they give us and no more. A very zen idea: at some point this will all go away” says Sasha. Her goals include placing in the top three overall ranking in the Americas region as well as combing ski exploration with development projects as upcoming ways to play.

Our Take

We don’t know much about Sasha but watching her rip apart venues on tour over the past few years scares us. In a good way. The girl carries speed, is aggressive and if she’s tough enough to ski out of Montana, she’s tough enough to ski anywhere. We applaud her in a major way for dedicating time outside the sport making a difference through her leadership development and community initiatives. Yeah, sounds like a more worthy of a cause than a photoshoot, posting your latest hotness to some form of social media or “playing the game”. Rad. We haven’t skied with her yet and we’re just fine with that. We’re not sure our egos can handle the blow she’s sure to deliver.

Her Site


Francesca Pavillard-Cain – Crested Butte, CO


8th Place: Francesca Pavillard-Cain a Other video by yournewbestfriend


From Liz

An all-around athlete, Francesca skis, bikes, and climbs well. You kinda have to when you grow up in Crested Butte. As an upcoming senior at Western State Colorado University, she balances her budding ski career with academics and is double majoring in Spanish and Business. This last year, she competed in the FWQ and after a win in Crested Butte, she realized that getting on the Tour was a possibility. She then sealed the deal at Snowbird. Next season, Francesca will represent all the ladies on the Freeski World Tour after placing first overall last season in the FWQ. Francesca will impress us this year with her calm demeanor, fluidity on the slopes, and precise line choices that push herself just enough to win.

Our Take

Back in Little League I remember playing against teams from California and just getting whooped. Although I was serious about the sport, those kids had such a better environment to get good at playing ball it was almost unfair. Perfect weather, awesome facilities and competition all around. Growing up in CB is sort of like those damn Cali kids if you want to be a big mountain skier. Its rowdy, raw and teaches one to ski the tough shit at a young age. I suppose this is why looks Francesca just as comfortable in technical terrain as your average skier might look on a blue (square that is, blue square)



We’ll admit this list is very abbreviated. We can think of more than a few girls that deserve a spot or a post all to celebrate what a ripper they are. Girls like Jacqui Edgerly, Pip Hunt and Kaki Orr. Hey, we’re working on this over here. Give us time ladies!

Question to the Ladies

Ladies, do you want us to put together a ladies only section on this website? A place where we aggregate, post and create content directed at you? We’re not sure enough ladies geek out on this stuff like the dudes. Are we wrong? Let us know! We’d love to serve you.

We end with a definition of “professional skier”.

*pro·fes·sion·al  | A person who is able to pay their damn bills doing whatever they claim they are pro at. Put another way, getting free gear does not make you a pro. Competing against other pros does not make you a pro. Name dropping does not make you a pro. Having a “pro form” does not make you a pro (is your mom pro because she has coupons to the grocery store?). Having a giant monster sticker on your truck does not make you pro. Keeping your sled in your truck 12 months a year might make you pro. Being a ski school instructor also does not make you a pro skier. 


  1. jstorrs says

    Love the definition of a “professional skier” although you might have just pissed off about half you readership who consider themselves “Pro”

  2. tahoeski says

    “Girls, do you want us to put together a ladies only section on this website? A place where we aggregate, post and create content directed at you?”


    I love earlyups, it would be awesome to for you to be the first site to do something like that for the ladies!

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Thanks for the feedback tahoeski. We’re discussing the possibility of this right now and will likely be going live with something shortly. Stand by!

  3. reedmilne says

    “Being a ski school instructor also does not make you a pro skier.”

    That is the best possible way you could have ended that paragraph on the definition of a professional skier. Ski school instructors think they are the hottest shit around and have the biggest egos. 90% of them need to take some lessons themselves. Half of them are from Florida or Ohio or some bullshit area that has no “real” skiing to begin with. They used to “come out for a week every year with their family growing up to go skiing.”…They “know this mountain better than anyone.”…And now that they’ve lived here for 2 seasons, they are the best fucking skier on the mountain…and a local. They are generally the people that brag the most about their skiing and mention how many “Black Diamonds” they skied that day. A general rule of thumb that I strongly believe is: the more you talk about how good you are, the more full of shit you usually are and more than likely, you actually suck D at skiing.

    This is coming from a guy who caved in to the dark side and instructed part time last season in order to get a free pass. I felt like a complete douche. But, sometimes your finances are low. I’m getting infuriated just thinking about some of those no talent ass clowns.

    Thanks for letting me rant for a second. I enjoyed this article as well as the majority of your content. These girls kill it.

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Thanks for the kind words but more importantly thanks for your rant. We encourage rants. We’ve honestly toyed with “this stuff” (the cultural part of skiing) a lot, just didn’t want to make the site too “bloggy”. Still, we know our audience might dig our opinions. Or maybe not. Either way, its skiing, not world-news. We probably can afford taking a bit more editorial liberties.

  4. laurelelin says

    Thanks for covering some badass lady shredders! These chicks are all awesome and it’s great to see Earlyups celebrating it! How about instead of segregating the lady content into a separate section on the site, you just incorporate more badass women into your regular content. If you stick it over in a separate spot on the site, you delay women skiers making inroads into the mainstream.

    Thanks guys!

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says


      The coverage would absolutely first be posted to the homepage. However, once the content is off the homepage it is sort of in a black hole (also known as “page 2”). Nobody clicks any further. This is why you’ll find navigation to certain locations, gear, trailers etc. All of this content went to the home page first!

      So with respect to the girl content, of COURSE it would go to our home page. This tab would just be an easier way for girls to stay in touch with female only content posted as we are posting so much these days!

      Make sense?

      Thanks for the feedback!


      • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

        Elyse & Laurelin,

        We just created a female only page called “Lady Shred”. (we’re open to other names)

        This is the place all women-centric shredding can be found AFTER it leaves the home page. Again, this is not an exclusive place for lady shred content as it can also be found on our home page mixed in with everything else. We’ll do our best to back populate this page over the next few days. More importantly, we’ll pay extra good attention to the ladies side of things. You guys all rock and we appreciate you checking out the site.

        And as always, feel free to contact us if you know of content that deserves a look. (either post it into a discussion like this or Jeff AT works too.

        Thanks gals!


  5. great says

    Good internally driven content.

    – never heard of any of them, which means you did it right. Too many girls are over promotional and I would have cringed if they made the list (they are reading, and they know who they are)
    – thanks for not focusing on appearances.
    – thanks for mocking tryhard pros. You said it right, esp instructors and prodeal.
    – and thanks for mocking the yoga image.

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Thanks for the compliment. A lot of thanks should be directed toward Liz, she helped without blinking an eye. We’ll do our best to keep our eyes open for the people (guys and girls) who put skiing first, have talent for days, not scared to work hard and throw high fives like they are going out of style. Out there with a smile on their face making the best of the day. That sort of thing is infectious and in short supply. Its skiing. Lets have some fun with it eh?! (no I’m not Canadian)

  6. Maryann says

    Interesting article. These are 5 American great skiers (girls..) but there are also many Canadian great skiers (also girls) who as well struggle in a sport not only dominated by men, but also by American Corporations. Getting sponsorship, and winning races is very difficult when there is so little money put into big mountain as a sport. I don’t believe you could make a living on big mountain skiing in Canada. You would absolutely need another job and income to survive. By your definition that would suggest there are no professional big mountain skiers in Canada anyway… Yet I believe there are many!!! Here’s one that ranks in the pro category, check out Chelsea Sullivan

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says


      You are spot on. We’ll work on a list of rippers from the Great White North. We’re based in Jackson so you have to give us a little bit of a break. The only thing I can say for certain is what I put as my lead in sentence to the article…

      “there are more ripping ladies right now than any other point in the sport’s history. “

  7. extremeskingmom says

    I do not know… if you want to pay the bills, ski instruction and coaching is a good way to do it and one of the few professions that will give you time off to compete. I have put food on the table that way for over 25 years and watched the first Extreme skiing comps get started. i’ve raised two hot female skiers, who have competed and won first place more than once in the US extremes and both their parents worked in ski schools. I am all for women excelling in the sport and watching my girls far surpass me as skiers is one of my greatest joys. I would suggest that we respect all people who make a living on the snow and not bash anyone regardless where they are from, we never know when we might need their help or collaboration.

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Hi ExtremeSkiMom,

      Don’t take my cynicism too far! By no means is ski instructing or coaching a non-noble way to make a living. That was not what I was aiming to communicate. No, indeed, anyone who is able to bring more people into the sport with a smile on their face or teach an up-and-coming skier how to do what they do better deserves a high five.

      However, just as Phil Jackson (basketball coach) cannot claim he does what Michael Jordan does (pro basketball coach vs pro basketball player) so too a ski instructor/coach would be really stretching the popular culture definition of “professional skier” as that implies something entirely different.

      Just a guess but I bet you don’t walk into a bar and tell anyone who will listen you are a “professional skier”. My definition was aimed at those who are more obsessed with the idea and ego behind a “title” (professional skier) than they are with the sport itself.

      End of the day, coaching and instructing are both awesome professions; both very valiant! Heck, I am lucky enough to do both on the mountain bike side of things from side to side and find a whole bunch of meaning/significance on the days I do so. But I don’t claim, as a result of my coaching, I’m a professional mountain biker. (I claim I’m a professional mountain biker because I race against other pros 😉 <——- That was a joke )

      See the difference?

      Thanks for checking in. And thank you even more for raising two ripping daughters! World needs more moms like you!!


  8. Stephanie says

    At least some girls definitely geek out about this stuff as much as the guys. I’m a big an of SheJumps and all the killer women in our sport, but at the same time I don’t care for girl-centric areas on sites such as this. As long as all the gear features aren’t dude-specific and there are thoughtful articles and edits of true talent (disregarding the gender of the featured athlete(s)) then I’m happy. Spotlighting out ripping chicks is awesome, but segregating (for lack of a better word) the female content to its own section will likely keep those ladies from getting the main spotlight they deserve, I know too many guys that will shy away from a section like that because they percieve it as ‘ladies-only’ or ‘feminist’.

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Hey Stephanie,

      Thanks for your comments. If you’ll read below, you’ll see we are not segregating content to a girl-only place but rather posting it to our homepage but allowing users to more easily find girl-only content once it is off our home page. Does this make sense? We want girls to be able to find like minded content quickly and easily but by no means is it only going to this page. We’ll feature the heck out of girls! This piece alone shows our audience loves it. Our minds our churning with ideas already…


  9. Jaclyn Paaso says

    This was a refreshing read from some other female “pro” ski stuff I’ve seen this summer! Thanks early ups and thanks for adding the ladies section to your site!

    • JeffBrinesJeffBrines says

      Hey Jaclyn,

      Thanks for the kind words. Mind getting in touch with me via email? We’d like to do a feature on you! Jeff AT Earlyups DOT com ! Thanks in advance…

  10. Daryn Edmunds says

    As a guy who has spent the last 10 years competing on what is now the FWQ and who has always paid close attention to Women’s Freeskiing Comps I would like to say that you nailed it with this list. If I were to make a top 5 list it would have all the same people on it. Great work to all these ladies and all the other women who are competing in the Big Mountain arena! Thanks for putting this together, these ladies deserve more love indeed.

  11. Ashley OHara says seeing this on ns. keep it up.eventually it will lead to something even bigger! i love big skis and big mountains and love watching my fellow lady killers kill it!

  12. Bellz says

    A man writing an article about unnoticed, awesome female athletes that “let their skiing do the talking” instead of bikini yoga poses on Instagram? Yes!!!! You rock. And to these rad chicks: You are the heroes of the sport for me, because you are passionate, talented, and didn’t sell out your sexuality to get ahead. Thank you for that, and I hope you get endless respect and support from every direction without having to market yourselves as sex objects. Time to share this!

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