Rachael Burks wants to be one of the wolves running with other wolves.
Two summers ago, laid up with an ankle injury and trying to make money for her next winter of filming, she got pissed off at the pay-to-play paradigm of ski movie appearances.
“My ski sponsor pulled out of the film company I was working with, so I had to get together $10,000 to film with them,” she says. “I thought, ‘that’s the only way for me to advance my career. Gosh, if I don’t make one of these movies, I’m backsliding.’”
She thought there should be another way way for female athletes who are underrepresented in major ski films to be able to promote themselves, even if they couldn’t pay their way. “There are lots of women out there, but they’re not getting a lot of exposure,” she says. So she decided to build a platform and take video submissions from women across action sports.
Femalewolfpack.com, Burks’ video aggregation site, soft-launched earlier this month and goes live for real on January 1. She says she’s already received more submissions than she can handle, and that the feedback, from both men and women, has all been positive. “It’s turned into something a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” she says. “People from all over the world are sending submissions in.”
The site serves two purposes. It’s a way for athletes to use the free magic of the Internet to get eyes on their edits and their skiing, but it’s also—Burks hopes—a source of inspiration. She says the lack of visible female role models in skiing is hurting the sport, and that she wants the site (named after The Hangover) to give girls exposure to a ton of people to look up to.
“It’s a bad representation of the women out there that you either have to be Sarah Burke or Ingrid Backstrom,” Burks says. “It’s like saying, ‘you’re either Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan, and if you’re not, you better pull out now.’ That’s not true.”