Another dream fulfilled
Grete Eliassen has made a living walking on air.
So, what does a woman who rides down a mountain at 61 miles per hour and soars 31 feet into the air do when she’s not winning medals at the Winter X Games?
Well, for one thing, she’s studying to obtain her Bachelor of Science in business management from the University of Utah.
But the 24-year-old professional freestyle skier wanted something more.
An avid skier at Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons, Eliassen felt she needed to do something that would leave her mark on the sport on a long-term basis.
She made a ski film featuring a cast of all-female skiers, which is a landmark achievement in the extreme sports film industry. It is one of the first films with an all-female cast.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Eliassen said. “I’ve always wanted to make a movie about skiing.”
Eliassen, along with the cast and crew, produced the film over a period of two years. The film, “Say My Name,” debuted last week in Los Angeles at the Red Bull headquarters.
On Oct. 4, the film was made available for purchase on iTunes, and Eliassen is beginning to see the fruits of her labor.
“The dream has never been just to throw out content,” Eliassen said. “It’s about getting better and watching and taking advantage of we really wanted to do with this.”
The film, which was shot primarily in the Wasatch backcountry, also includes footage in the nation’s capitol, as Eliassen and her female co-stars trekked out to Washington,
D.C., to partake in the historic snowstorm that hit last winter.
“It was awesome out there,” she said. “It was totally different, but so cool.”
Eliassen was recently designated on the Action Sports portion of ESPN.com website as the “Best Female Performance in a Leading Role” for her role in the film and has been receiving praise for her job on the project.
Skiing is something that the up-and-coming star was familiar with even at a young age.
Eliassen grew up in Minnesota. Born to an American mother and a Norwegian father, she put on her first pair of skis at age two, and eventually moved to Norway at the age of 13 where her affinity with the sport really took off.
While living in Norway, Eliassen took Winter X Games gold in the halfpipe two years in a row in 2005 and 2006. She later earned a three-peat at the U.S. Open halfpipe competition, winning in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
In 2007, she won a $25,000 prize at Whistler’s “Üllr Girl” competition. The competition consisted of four components: A big-mountain competition held in bounds at Whistler, along with a parks and halfpipe run and concluded with an arts element such as photography, film, art or music that each rider chose.
Grete donated all of it to charities such as the Women’s Sports Foundation, and Stand Strong Again, a charity based for athletes with spinal-cord injuries.
Eliassen has twice traveled to Afghanistan on goodwill trips with fellow snow athletes to support troops in combat.
The state of Utah had always intrigued her, though.
She figured if she moved to Utah, she’d be able to get an education while being 15 minutes away from four or five top-notch resorts.
“It was the best option,” she said. “It’s the most convenient spot.”
She has been a summer and fall semester student at Utah, taking off spring semesters to ski and travel.
This April, Grete etched her name into the record books; maybe permanently.
Eliassen eclipsed the Hip Jump World Record at the Canyons. After being approached by the resort and Red Bull, she decided she wanted to give it a shot.
A hip jump is jump designed to reach maximum height. The rider goes up off a straight jump and comes down on the left side.
Reaching speeds of 61 miles per hour is not for the faint of heart, especially considering she was preparing to hit the custom 30-foot hip jump.
“It was noticeably different,” she said. “I had never gone that big. Ever. I hit (the jump) 10 times a day for two days before getting 31 feet.
“I wanted to go the biggest any girl ever has before.”
She said she fell once after one of her skis caught an edge of the lip on the jump and became dislodged.
“It was scary,” she said.
Eliassen’s dream has been played out the way she planned, and she couldn’t be more energized about it.
“(The film) works for women’s skiing, for women who want to go out and hit a cliff for the first time,” she said. “It’s all about progressing the sport of women’s skiing.”
Grete’s film, which continues to receive buzz in the extreme sports realm, will pave the path for her to work on more projects later on.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” she said.
As for staying around the Wasatch Front, Eliassen put her signature in cement.
“Ski-wise, I want to stay here for the rest of my life. I’m addicted to the Utah snow,” she said.
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Source: Park Record