Park City model/skier Sierra Quitiquit releases movie
When you see Sierra Quitiquit modeling for magazines or skiing in remote corners of the globe for various ski films, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking she’s had a privileged life. Adding that she grew up in Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival and several decorated Olympians, makes that case even stronger.
But, in her new movie called "How Did I Get Here," Quitiquit details a life that has had equal parts glamour and gloom.
"It’s my story of rising to the world stage of modeling and professional skiing and a lot of the really challenging things I went through on the way," the 26-year-old said. "It’s kind of a story of the challenges life can throw at you and also achieving one’s dreams."
Growing up in Park City, Quitiquit, like most natives, started skiing at a young age.
"I grew up here and had three brothers," she said. "We lived all together in a little condo on Park City Mountain Resort. We couldn’t really afford the ski team. We raced a little bit for the Park City Ski Team, but then my dad ended up being our coach. I ski raced as a kid and spent like every day on snow and lived the Park City dream."
Eventually, the dream soured. Her mother has a class V inoperable brain aneurysm and she’s dealt with the death of one brother and the drug addiction of another. But, Quitiquit said, she wants the film to inspire hope in viewers.
"[The movie] talks about a lot of the really hard things I went through, from losing my older brother and my family coping with my other brother’s drug addiction," she said. "I think that, if I had any hopes for the film, it would be to let the younger generation that’s growing up now know that, despite all the hard and challenging things that happen in life, you can still accomplish your dreams and use those challenges to fuel you. This is a film I wish I could have shown my 15-year-old self. I think it would have given me a lot of hope for this world."
Now, having traveled from Alaska to Japan to New York to New Zealand in the past year or so, Quitiquit is thankful for where life has taken her, both through her modeling and skiing careers.
"I’m just like a ski bum girl from Park City and it’s always a trip when I’m going to New York or Miami and on set," she said. "[Modeling] is a good way to see the world and a nice summer job when ski season’s not kicking. It’s been a really amazing couple of years."
Quitiquit was always pursuing a career in the ski industry, she said, but modeling came out of nowhere.
"Modeling happened kind of randomly," she said. "It sort of just fell in my lap. My mom talked me into trying out for ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and I somehow made it on that show. It was crazy, but from there, I joined an agency and landed an international campaign with American Eagle. I was on billboards all over the world and in every major magazine."
She said she’s learned a lot from her modeling career and has become more comfortable with herself in the process.
"In the beginning when I was modeling, there was a lot of pressure to lose weight," she said. "Everybody was always telling me I had to be smaller because they didn’t understand that I was an athlete. I feel like the industry is slowly starting to evolve and companies are looking for girls that aren’t just super skinny. I feel more confident with my body and my athleticism and I’m proud that I have a body that allows me to do things."
For Quitiquit, those "things" involve extreme big-mountain skiing. She’s been in the past couple of Warren Miller ski films and acted in Sweetgrass Productions’ "Valhalla." Her own movie, which debuted last week in Park City, is now available in the iTunes store for $7.99.
"I think we were so focused on finishing the film and it was so much work that we kind of dropped the ball a little bit on the premiere scheduled," she laughed. "But just having it online is the best and most accessible way [for people to watch]. People can also go online and request to do a screening."
Quitiquit hopes 2016 is as good to her as 2015 was. Her next big challenge, she said, is to draw attention to a cause close to her heart.
"I’m going to attempt to go the year without single-use plastics," she said. "That’s anything that you use once and toss it out — water bottles, coffee cup lids, cosmetics, food packaged in plastics. Plastic has such an enormous footprint in this world and every piece of plastic ever made never goes away. It just breaks down into smaller particles and ends up in our drinking water and our oceans. It’s truly poisoning this planet.
"I feel so privileged that I get to spend my life skiing in so many beautiful places in this world and I’m truly frightened for the future and for our snowpack. I just think I have some sort of responsibility to advocate and take some personal responsibility in my life."
For more information on Sierra Quitiquit and her new movie, "How Did I Get Here," visit http://www.sierraquitiquit.com .
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