Interview with Pro Big Mountain Skier Turned Pro Snowmobiler, Nadia Samer


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. 

Nadia Samer 

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