Best Day Ever: Icelandic Hot Laps

Sierra Quitiquit gets in the chopper

I dunno, I'm kinda tired, but I guess we can do another. Sierra Quitiquit and Jess McMillan in the candy store. PHOTO: Mike Artz/Spyder

Sierra Quitiquit had a big winter. In her first season as a pro she had photos in magazines like, um, POWDER, got picked up by Volkl and Spyder, and did a little modeling on the side. And she filmed with Warren Miller for the first time. In Iceland. In essentially a private helicopter. This is her best day of the year.

As told to Heather Hansman

I went on a trip to Iceland in March to film with Warren Miller, for their next movie Ticket to Ride, with Jess McMillan and Julia Mancuso. Iceland is so scenic and beautiful. It’s a place where the ocean meets the mountains so you have these incredible fjords that come inland and you ski lines right into the ocean. It’s pretty ridiculous. We were in Skíðadalur, which means ski valley, in the little town of Dalvik. We skied with a heli op called Arctic Heli Skiing. It’s run by an awesome guy, Jokull Bergmann, who’s like crazy 31st generation Icelandic—don’t quote me on that. He converted his family’s sheep ranch into a heli ski op. It’s incredible; there are Icelandic ponies that have Justin Beiber haircuts.

We were there for almost two weeks and we were just burning heli time. It was my first year as a pro skier and I had never filmed in a helicopter before, so I was so stoked on the experience. One freaking glorious day it was just Jess and me.

It had snowed a few inches the day before. At one point the light just popped so beautifully in the afternoon. We were up this fjord and Chris Patterson, the director, who is such a badass, was like, “Here’s what we’re going to do: You and Jess are just going to hot lap in the heli. When you’re done we’ll pick up Jess.”

Yep, looks like it was a pretty good day out there. Jess McMillan and Sierra. PHOTO: Sierra Quitiquit

It was absolutely ridiculous. We’re skiing 3,500-foot faces into the ocean and I have this personal helicopter caddying me up and I’m picking the ski lines of my choice. I think I cried a lot on this trip. The whole time I was thinking, “Is this real life?”

From dream to dreamy. PHOTO: Sierra Quitiquit

I think that no matter how many times you film, there’s just adrenaline in the air, there’s pressure not to mess up in any way. But I was just so stoked for the opportunity—someone flew me to Iceland and is giving heli rides. I was surprisingly not that nervous. I think I was just flowing on the stoke juices, but I really wanted to ski well and communicate properly on the radio.

My first run was a trip. When you’re scoping lines from the heli everything looks smaller so it’s really hard to read the snow density. I blew my shoulder out January 1 and I really hadn’t got to do a lot of shredding and this was my first opportunity. I really wanted to do a good job. The snow looked decent, but it was pretty sun hammered, and there’s this 4,000-foot line in front of me. My heart is beating, Chris is in the heli, I can kind of hear him, and I think I heard say him drop.

So I go. It’s kind of blasted out, and I’m trying to mach down this face while the snow is chattering. I’m just trying to hang on and shred as fast as possible. I get to the bottom and look up at this ginormous face I just got to ski. Then it sunk it. I’m actually here and I’m going to get to ski these lines. I still can’t believe that I get to do this sometimes.

That day, as we were coming back, we all got dropped of on Home Run, which is a 3,500-foot face that drops you right into the farmhouse. The pilot said, “We’re going home, might as well ski.” So we got to soul-shred the 8 p.m. golden light rays while looking out over the water. It was so perfect.

Posted In: Places, Stories, Trips

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