Growing up on Vancouver Island and frequenting ski resorts at any early age, Nadia Samer had a childhood that would make many skiers envious. But she also grew up tough, asserting her independence early. For example, she hitchhiked from Whistler to Vancouver for her first ACL surgery and returned on the bus, all at the age of 14. Now 25 years old and 11 knee surgeries later, Samer is in a comfortable niche of sled-assisted big mountain skiing and continues to push her own limits in the male dominated world of snowmobiling.
The Clymb: Where and when did you learn how to ski?
Nadia Samer: My first time on skis was on Blackcomb, my parents had a condo here that they bought in the late ’80s. My Dad had been skiing Whistler since 1969, my siblings and I all did kids’ camp and after a few years of that we just chased my Dad around the mountain. So I’ve been skiing Blackcomb since I was one and a half years old. We were living in Campbell River at the time, so we’d be over once a month or so to Whistler, otherwise we would spend the weekends skiing Mt Washington.
The Clymb: When did you get into snowmobiling and what was your motivation to make that investment?
Nadia Samer: I bought my first sled when I was 18 and still racing ski cross and competing in big mountain competitions. I saved up money for like three years and paid in cash, it was like watching three years of construction, painting, blood sweat and tears going over the counter.
I really enjoyed big-mountain skiing and I felt like I needed to get back there to get the big lines. I really like a challenge and it seemed like all the guys doing film and photo work were using sleds to get to the tops of lines in the backcountry. It seemed like the natural progression. I’d say about 60 percent of the time I’ll have skis with me, sometimes when it’s super deep and storming you’re not going to have the visibility to go after big lines on skis. With a snowmobile you can mess around in the trees and flatter areas and still get that “riding pow” experience even if it’s flat or uphill.
The Clymb: Do you always try to ski on the first day of the season?
Nadia Samer: I’ve been lining up for opening days for longer than I can remember. When I was working construction my site superintendent was a real passionate skier and we would always get opening day off if it was on a weekday. In the past few years since I’ve been going to university, luckily it’s lined up that I can get to class later that afternoon or not have classes scheduled at all.
It’s the start of a milestone; it’s right before my final exam and I have this whole buildup of work, stress and dealing with sponsors and film companies. I really don’t have much of a social life around school, so on the opening day lineup I like to be there really early and hangout in the corral. It’s the first time (for the season) that I get to see all my winter friends, all my ski friends. It’s like a reunion of sorts.
The Clymb: What’s on your radar for this season?
Nadia Samer: I’m involved with the Pretty Faces all girls ski movie, and I’m also shooting Shades of Winter 2. I have four girls coming over from Austria to film here in Whistler for two weeks in February and March. Some of it will be on a resort, but a lot of it will be sled-ski based. I’m stoked to get them out on sleds. I also just bought a speed wing so I think I’ll be bringing out the skis a bit more this year because a parachute makes everything more fun.
The Clymb: Speed wing?
Nadia Samer: It’s where you take off with a parachute smaller than a paraglider and you can take off cliffs or steep runs with the chute open. You touch down, lift off and ski off cliffs. It’s huge in Europe and it’s just starting blow up here. I went a few times last spring and it changed everything. All the lines that don’t go suddenly work.
Photos submitted by Nadia Samer