sierra quitquit

32 Minutes with Skiing’s Stunning Superwoman

Words:  Noah E. Davis
Photo left: Coco Knudson

Skier Sierra Quitiquit is living the dream on some of the biggest backcountry terrain in the world. But her accomplishments don’t end at the bottom of the slopes.

In addition to having one of the cooler names on the planet, Sierra Quitiquit has an excellent job. Two, actually. During the winter, she’s a professional skier who will head to Aspen, Japan, Alaska, and Iceland this season. When the snow melts, she models with brands like American Eagle and Nike. In her spare time, Quitiquit is busy raising awareness about environmental issues—she’s in the middle of a year devoted to not using single-use plastic as well as working on a documentary called How Did I Get Here that chronicles past tragedies in her life. Quitiquit talks about balancing two careers, her perceptions as “the model skier” and how much longer she’ll continue to model.

THE RED BULLETIN: Between the skiing and the modelling, you sound like you’re running at 1,000 miles per hour. Yet your blog and social media posts are very reflective and self-aware. Do you consciously take time to slow things down?

SIERRA QUITIQUIT: In my personal life, I’m actually quite a hermit. I really enjoy my time to myself, being alone, and reading. Between modelling and being a professional athlete, I always feel like I’m living the dream. There’s also a little bit of a sense of burden that comes with it. This world is not just an endless pot that is ready for the taking. It’s a give and a take. The more that I receive in this world, the more that I feel like I need to find outlets and ways to lend my voice to things that are important and make changes in my personal life that reflect the world that I want to live in.

Are you a role model?

Compared to Kim Kardashian, maybe [laughs].

Do you think you’re a good example to younger girls who want to be skiers or models?

I’m trying to be. I hope so. 

sierra quitquit

© Mike Arzt

How did the documentary come about?

It came from a distributor who told me that they had had really good success with female athletes and inspirational stories. If I made a film, he would guarantee the distribution. That’s where it got seeded. I got into it thinking that I was making a film about my rad life as a pro skier and model, about me and my friends travelling the world, having so much fun, and crushing it. When the director, Chris Kitchen, came into the picture, we went on our first trip to Patagonia with my brother. We were in the airport traveling and getting caught up. I was chatting about everything that was going on in my life, and Chris was like, “what? What is happening?” He took the film and rooted it in the kinds of personal challenges that I was going through. 

You’ve talked about your mother’s illness and your brother’s death in the past, but it must be a totally different feeling to share them with thousands of people in a documentary form. 

It’s definitely intimidating, putting myself and my family out there and being so vulnerable. It’s also been really incredibly healing in the strangest sort of way. 

How so?

Just being able to be me. Just being able to say it as it is. It’s been really liberating. For a long time, the media boiled me down to “the model skier.” That was everything that everybody knew about me. It made me really uncomfortable. While I do think skiing defines a lot of who I am as a person, modelling is just this great way for me to afford a great lifestyle and be able to support my family. It never really defined who I was to me. But given the nature of media, it was so easy for them to run a picture of me in a bikini. It never really sat well when I was boiled down to sex appeal that performed on skis. In a way I think that telling a 360-degree story has been humanizing. For me, it’s also been really healing for me to be honest with myself, where I come from, who I am, and what I’ve been through. It’s been healing for my family, too. It’s been great. 

“Sometimes I cannot believe I’m getting paid to do what I do.”

Is there a point where you can see yourself quitting modelling because you’re making enough money skiing?

Yeah [laughs].

Are you close to that point?

I don’t know. We’ll see. I think so. I can’t say that I’ll say no if the opportunities present themselves:   they are fun, there’s travel involved, a great crew, and brands that I can stand behind. But as far as moving to LA, spending the summers there, driving back and forth downtown to castings, I don’t think that’s how I’m going to spend my life anymore. 

Sierra Quitquit skiing down hill

© Mike Arzt

It seems like modelling is a lot less fun than people think.

Yeah, that’s incredibly true. 

It’s long hours and not the best conditions. 

It’s always crew dependent. Sometimes I cannot believe I’m getting paid to do what I do. It’s like a dream come true. And other jobs, I leave with my tail between my legs and I want to cry. 

I think it’s also that I have two careers where essentially I make my living through my body. One is this really gratifying career. It’s performance-based. When I put my head down and I grind it out in the gym, I have moments of reward on the mountain. That feels amazing. That feels like I’m really giving back to myself. On the other side, modelling is pure aesthetic. Sometimes that doesn’t feel very good when you’re looking in the mirror and you’re like “how much is this worth? What’s the price tag here?” There’s no equation that includes your intelligence, how hard of a worker you are, or how passionate you are. Just being boiled down to that is really challenging.

Read more
01 2016

Next story