Amy Jane David isn’t just a cartoon copycat of Warren Miller, living in a teardrop trailer in a parking lot after eating a burrito. Although she is a snow star in Teton Gravity Research’s (TGR) “Magic Hour”, which makes her Vail debuts Sunday at Vail Mountain School at 7 p.m., the Swiss army knife content creator does more than rip crazy lines. She is a writer, media producer and advocate for female empowerment in the outback – where her niche has been carved out by her intellect as much as her Icelandic boards.
His unique journey to a backcountry career began in Pinedale, Wyoming, where David grew up skiing in a family of outdoor enthusiasts just steps south of Jackson Hole. She raced and competed in freestyle, but truly realized her calling after watching a TGR movie – known for featuring many of the planet’s most epic destinations and mountain ranges – as a teenager.
“It completely changed the way I look at skiing and understand the scale of mountains around the world,” David said. “Seeing this film was really eye-opening for me and in that moment I decided that was what I wanted to pursue.”
His pioneering journey – by ski enthusiast standards – to a life in the backcountry included a unique synergy between science and snow. As one godfather aptly puts it, “His skiing career balances action and adventure with an academic twist.”
A full scholarship helped, but proximity to the Salt Lake ski slopes was the main draw when it came to choosing Westminster College after high school. Two reconstructive ACL surgeries put off her athletic pursuits, but while recovering she began working in public relations as an on-camera announcer for the Freeride World Tour.
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“My dream has always been to be an athlete, but I also love the creativity of the media,” she recalls.
Her role of interviewing athletes at the finish corral and commenting on specific sites and features forced her to study the mountain and analyze the races like a competitor.
“It really developed my mindset to look at a mountain face and then how to creatively ski down it,” she said.
After a few years “in the pit,” she transitioned from Joe Buck to Joe Montana, trading snow reporting for world-class shredding. At a 2015 FWT qualifying big mountain event in Verbier, Switzerland, David made the stunning transition, placing third.
“I wanted to compete,” she said. “Skiing with the different athletes was also a highlight, and I felt like I could keep up with so many talented skiers. So jumping into competition was something I always wanted to do. During her rookie year, she frequently crashed, usually going for huge features.
“Which was not the best strategy for longevity in these competitions,” she admitted, adding that a life-threatening accident later in the season seemed like a sign to pursue her love of sport. a different way.
“I just got over that, realized what I really wanted to do was be out in the backcountry and focus on film and photography with skiing, and pursue guide certification for more longevity in my career.”
In high school, she participated in international science fairs with projects focusing on glacial recession and ski head injuries. Her major at Westminster was Communication Psychology.
“What really plays into cross-country skiing and snowmobiling and managing avalanche training, groups and decision-making,” David said. Her minor was Outdoor Education and Leadership.
“Throughout this study, it led me to know that I needed to have – if I wanted to build a career in this sphere of the ski world – I needed to add value to the businesses beyond my athletic ability,” she said. .
Now equipped to produce video scenes, present and write stories, and guide safe remote expeditions thanks to his avalanche training and instructional certifications, the only problem David has is limiting the amount of irons which she keeps in the fire.
“Yeah, I have a lot going on, it’s something I’m trying to improve,” she laughed.
David also works for the Sawtooth Avalanche Center as a media coordinator and is an inaugural member of the Polaris Empowersports Women’s Riding Council. A Polaris-sponsored athlete — who also snowmobiles her 3-mile snow-free driveway at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains all winter — the board focuses on supporting women cyclists through community involvement, exposure to the media and being a voice to represent women in sport.
“Although my athletic career might excel faster if I just focused on that, I feel like I’m trying to be well balanced and build the, I guess you’d call that the academic side of my career, while building the sports career, so I have both very strong,” she said. Her wide-ranging resume is one of the main reasons she was successful at TGR.
“I didn’t just get discovered by the producers and have them say, ‘Oh, she’ll always be in those movies,'” she said of her talent as a skier. She adds her own stories to the website for several years, which has opened doors for him.
Her involvement in the “Magic Hour” began when she was brainstorming with a TGR producer for a film on skiing accessible to snowmobiles aimed at women.
“There was more storyline and depth plus some really cool action,” she said of the idea. “We had been trying to figure out how to do a project like this for a few years, and the right conditions just didn’t seem to line up.”
She connected TGR to Polaris with the goal of having a segment in the “magic hour” as a “starting point”. Although the project did not materialize, David, who also produced his own series with Ski Utah titled “Wild Women of Wasatchis full of hope for a future collaboration.
“I really think the idea of empowering and putting women in the spotlight more with the support of Polaris is definitely going to come to fruition at some point,” she said.
10th Mountain Connection
Although she has never skied at Vail Resorts, David traveled to Vail Pass in 2016 for her first film project. “The Mountain Infantry: A Back-to-Nature Story” which honored members of the 10th Mountain Division with side-by-side recreations of current and past skiers on several historic WWII training trails.
“We had an epic powder day,” David recalled of his day touring the Vail backcountry and Camp Hale, which President Biden made a national monument this week. “I think the airport closed because there was so much snow.”
Towards the end of the 10-minute film, David remarked, “No matter what era you live in, you still appreciate the awe and beauty of nature.” In the next scene, the late Richard “Dick” Over, a 10th Mountain veteran who died in Augustshares: “We all had the same interest in skiing and the mountains and that camaraderie stayed with us our whole lives.”
Set magic hour
“The first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset are coveted times for those who love the mountains,” reads the film’s description. Even non-skiers, David said, probably had a magical hour.
“For me, it’s literal about that most beautiful moment of the day when everything sparkles – maybe that sunrise or sunset – and you feel like all the stars are aligning, like you’re in the right place. time, right time, right place,” she began.
“But it’s also metaphorical,” she continued. “In your day-to-day life, when you’ve done so much work to make something happen and everything falls into place, like flow state basically.”
That’s exactly what happened while filming his segment in the Greater Yellowstone regions of Montana alongside Parkin Costain and Jake Hopfinger.
“I felt like the whole day was the magic hour,” David said. Struggling with treacherous snow conditions and freezing cold throughout the week, the TGR crew woke up to a full moon still hanging in the sky on their last day.
“The crystals were in the air, shimmering. So, just really beautiful and super happy; it had just snowed about a foot,” David described. “Last day, last chance – everything was working perfectly.”
At the end of the day, the TGR team hiked up a different mountain and down an untouched couloir, returning to town as the moon rose in the night sky.
“It felt like everything finally fell into place that last day,” David said.
Two of the film’s segments are close to his heart – the ski mountaineering section in Grand Teton National Park and Christina Lustenberger’s first descent of the great Canadian mountain.
“She’s carved out a really cool niche in her ski movie career doing first runs as a segment,” David said. “For me, as an aspiring mountain ski guide, to see her pursue these goals is quite inspiring.”
While diehard ski fans are guaranteed to “winter delight” watching the film, David thinks anyone who shows up at Vail Mountain School for the Sunday premiere – or at one of the many stops on the Colorado – will appreciate the production.
“Even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, it’s just seeing the human potential and the beautiful landscapes around the world,” she said. “It’s really inspiring that way.”