Nexus, a ski film produced and directed by women, and starring women, resonates with a compelling narrative and, yes, fine skin lines, too.
It is no surprise that winter is my favorite season of the year. Probably yours, too, if you’re reading this. But my second favorite? Pre-Winter; the sacred few weeks and months before the snow falls. The best season ever, you might think to yourself, the biggest snowfall in a decade.
Although we’re not trained lab rats, the power of ski flick marketing elicits a classicly conditioned Pavlovian response: the snowpack is 0″, but we’re already salivating. Ski movies are the ultimate hype machine for the cannot-wait-for-winter among us.
Recently, I had a chance to screen Nexus, a ski film documenting five pairs of female skiers and their connection to the mountains. Despite high expectations for a long-overdue all-women’s ski film—and to avoid burying the headline—I loved every second of this 45-minute movie. (Fine – one critique – make it longer, please!)
Nexus – a connection or series of connections linking two things or more – is aptly named. Throughout the film, the story follows five pairs of friends drawn to the mountains and skiing for different reasons. They have diverse stories and backgrounds. They have different motivations and different upbringings. Spoiler alert: they all rip.
Anchoring the film is the uplifting story and endearing friendship of Jane Gallie and Margo Krisjansons, the day-to-day operations managers at Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson, Wyoming.
Throughout the movie, Nexus conveys a heartwarming narrative of this forty-year friendship. Jane and Margo’s banter is funny, heartwarming, and intelligent, and they are certainly the movie’s highlight. I got a good laugh when asked about the beginnings of their friendship; says Margo: “It was 1981… I was trekking through Nepal…” What an origin story!
The Jackson theme runs deep in Nexus: Caite Zeliff and Veronica Paulsen—big mountain freeskiers and former Queens of Corbet’s—are the first featured pair in the film. The Tetons-based skiers fled to Canada for some deep pow but were greeted with fog, heavy snow, and a weather inversion. I can only imagine what trouble this caused for the film crew (led by Shannon Corsi and Sophie Danison, also of Wyoming), but they got some great shots nonetheless. I especially appreciated the peanut butter sandwich-on-the-chairlift-waiting-out-poor conditions, as this is a frequent occurrence for me as a skier based in the temperamental PNW climate.
As a weekend warrior with a full-time job, the segment with Lucy Sackbauer and Ingrid Stensvaag, nurses-by-day and skiers-by…well, the rest of the time, resonated. In this segment, Lucy and Ingrid discuss the challenges and rewards of balancing a career and a passion, which is relatable to other female skiers and me.
Most importantly, Nexus offers relevant commentary throughout the film on the adversity women, and underrepresented athletes face in a white-male-dominated industry: This is more than “girl power.” The film’s core message is about “creating space” and expanding the community, one that freeskier Sasha Dingle eloquently describes in the film. Dingle, and her ski partner Krystin Norman, are first-generation Vietnamese professional athletes. Both women are focused on increasing access for BIPOC women in the sport.
The final segment of Nexus follows Michelle Parker—no stranger to a ski film—and newcomer biker-turned-skier Brooklyn Bell as they explore Alaska’s Girdwood mountains. Parker is a mentor to Bell as they scout lines and ride surfy, fast powder. After a day of heli-drops onto ideal snow and a tumble down a “perfect” line (Nexus is no highlight reel), the friends chat about the ups and downs of their day: In line with the film’s theme, Bell comments that she could never tire of skiing, but she could tire of the culture. (This resonated with me.) How can we work to “create space” so that underrepresented athletes like Bell are not fighting an uphill battle in a sport that traditionally functions as an old boys’ club? The film raises these important questions, among others.
Of course, Nexus is not all serious. The film is full of super cool ski lines, fake mustaches, tailgate beers, lottery tickets, and quite possibly, every Skida pattern in existence (Product placement? Ten-out-of-ten). It features women supporting women, supporting women. After all, this is the first ski film entirely directed and produced by women. What else would you expect?
Nexus inspired me to hug my girlfriends close and countdown the days to the first snowfall. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to all skiers, especially women.
Nexus was directed by Shannon Corsi and produced by Katie Lozancich and Sophie Danison, who also served as the Director of Photography. It debuts on October 5 in Golden, Colorado: Checkout the website (www.nxusfilm.com) for the complete list of tour cities and to buy tickets.
A Midwesterner at heart, Jordan grew up skiing in the cold and icy “mountains” of northern Michigan; experts say this is where she developed her affinity for puffy coats. Not satisfied with the terrain offered by her local ski hills, Jordan moved west to Colorado and subsequently to Bend, Oregon, where she could be even closer to the outdoors. Although she is a healthcare consultant by day, her passions lie with the mountains. Jordan was accidentally introduced to backcountry skiing by her husband Jozef, who regrets suggesting a sport which requires him to walk uphill all day. On any given weekend, they can both be found on skis.