This Ski Movie Was Created During Quarantine by a Bunch of 17-Year-Old Girls
The new film Novia aims to make the junior freeride scene more welcoming to everyone. Click the play button on the header image to watch the trailer.
The idea started as a senior project, a short film as part of a high school requirement. But eventually, word got out and the idea snowballed. Others wanted to be a part of it. People and companies wanted to fund it. Next thing you know, a group of young women, all under the age of 18 and competing on the International Freeskiers Association Junior Freeride Series, were making a full-fledged movie to share their experiences and encourage other girls to join.
The short film is called Novia, Spanish for girlfriend, and it’s debuting in October at a number of stops around the country before launching online. The film stars Colorado-based skiers Ella Haverkampf, from Crested Butte; Caroline Ungar, from Denver; Maisie Wagner, from Steamboat Springs; Ellie Huff, from Longmont; and Lucy Hall, from Durango, Colorado; as well as Ulla-Britt Libre, from Alta, Utah. We called up Flylow athlete Haverkampf, who’s now a freshman at the University of Utah, to chat about the film.
Tell us how this film came to be.
Novia was going to be this tiny school project of my friend Ellie Huff. Out of luck, it became much bigger than that. Over time, Ellie started asking other girls she’d known from IFSA if they wanted to be in this film. I was one of those people. I’d always wanted to do something like this. I’ve been competing since I was 11. I’ve seen the ins and outs of how the junior series works. Being a girl in a room full of guys all the time, I always thought to myself, I don’t care if I win. But if I can inspire some girl to go out there and do the best she can and feel welcome in this community, then that’s the real goal.
The film was made during the pandemic. Did that present any challenges?
We would have these Zoom meetings every week during the heat of COVID. We all live in different places, too. Someone would say, I know someone who can help you out with this. We were able to get the project off the ground that way, thanks to sound advice from people who’d made film projects in the past. I have a notebook full of tips. We talked to SheJumps about what we wanted our message to be and what we wanted viewers to take away from the movie.
And what do you want viewers to take away from the movie?
Novia doesn’t just mean to support your friends, it means to support everyone, and that everyone is welcome. We were filming and interviewing each other. We put something on Instagram asking people to send in answers to certain questions, like why do you ski? Why is mentorship in skiing important? What does skiing do for you? The main message is to help recruit young girls to get into skiing.
What has been your biggest takeaway from competing on the Junior Freeride Series?
One of the greatest parts of competition is that I’ve made so many friends for life through those competitions. I can’t even express how important it was for me to have those friends within that community. It’s freeride, so you’d think it would be laid back and everyone’s there to have a good time. But it’s also really intense. I had some anxiety, especially when I was younger. I didn’t know how to cope with it. But having that social outlet made it so much more bearable.
What’s been the toughest part of competition for you?
I see how these contests are judged. I see how the judges reward men for going as big as they can, it almost doesn’t matter if they’re skiing well. They’re barely hanging on, but they’ll be rewarded more than if they skied some fluid line with picture-perfect technique. It’s much different for the girls. It’s not that they don’t reward girls for going big, but there’s this whole ‘we don’t want you to scare us in your line’ thinking that’s a lot more prevalent on the women’s side of things. Part of the film is to shed light on some of those differences.
So, the film shows some inequities in the sport?
We don’t want to draw a line in the sand even deeper. The film is about celebrating these differences and coming together. This is about showing each other as equals and saying that everyone is welcome. We want to create a fun, positive environment.
Where did you do most of the filming?
We took a five-day film trip to Snowbird, Utah, last April. It was a lot of fun. I was in charge of finances and logistical stuff. Try renting a house when you’re just 17. We had everyone filming, doing vlogs. We shot videos of us caravanning out there. It was about as legit as an illegitimate film project could get.
Where can people see this film?
We all graduated high school last year and went off to college, so we decided to coordinate our own premieres wherever we ended up. We’re having premieres in Salt Lake City and at the University of Utah, where I am, one in Bozeman, one in Colorado, one at Dartmouth College, where Ulla-Britt Libre is going to school. After those showings, we’ll release it on YouTube and Vimeo.
You raised over $3,000 on GoFundMe to help fund this film. Did that cover everything?
We also applied for and got a scholarship from the Flyin’ Ryan Hawks Foundation, the IFSA helped support it, and companies like Flylow got behind it, too.
You’re 18 now. Will you still be competing this winter?
Yeah, I can now go into credit card debt or get a flu shot by myself. I don’t know if I’ll compete this winter. I think I’ll do some contests for fun, but I think it’s time for me to ski for myself. I was on a team for so long, I was so competitive, and I felt like I was always skiing for results, for other people. I think skiing for myself will be an important part of my winter this year.