If you don’t know the name Rachael Burks, it’s because you’ve been living under a rock. Burks, who hails from Salt Lake City, is a rebel when it comes to skiing. Her fearless moves and big personality make her a stand out on the mountain. With over 20 films under her belt, more awards than you can think of, and sponsors knocking on her door, Burks is truly on the rise to becoming one of skiing’s best. Last week, she even showed off her mad skills and walked away with Red Bull’s Cold Rush award for Best Overall Women’s Skier. Friend and fellow pro skier Julian Carr says “Rachael is a hungry skier that lays down turns and airs especially her backflip, that can hang with the best in the game.”
Name: Rachael Burks
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Sponsors: PeakPerformance, Dynastar, Look, Lange, Smith Optics and Helmets, Discrete, Backcountry.com, Hestra, Widsix.com, Badnana’s Badnanas, Alta, Snowbird, Brighton.
TSC: Hey Rachael! Where in the world are you right now?
RB: So, I’m in Courmayer, Italy at the moment. It’s pretty bitchin’. I’m out here with PeakPerformance doing some shooting for next year’s clothing line. Basically enjoying being over here again. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been out here, so I have lots to be excited about.
TSC: How is the snow out there?
RB: It’s okay. It’s super hot out here, so it’s a little like spring skiing, however, we’ve had a few days in the heli and found some nice north facing stuff too, but when you’re over here, it’s hard not to be excited about the other pieces of perfection like cheese, wine, food, stone rooftops, culture, language, pastries, coffee, the alps! I mean, I’m looking at Monte Bianco at this very moment and it looks like a perfectly painted backdrop. Things aren’t even real out here. It’s so amazing! I’m soooo lucky to be here.
TSC: Tell me about Cold Rush. How much pressure was there to win?
RB: No pressure. I was super nervous, but no pressure. It’s a pretty rad environment. You get to ski with a bunch of people you never get to ski with. I had a blast, but I hadn’t done a competition in a long time, so I was all knotted up inside. Everything and everyone is chill though. I went in with super low expectations, however, wanted to do it because I like the format of competition. Plus, it’s a huge opportunity and an honor to be invited! I was just excited to watch people compete! I love watching skiing and we had front row, with a heli. Bottom line, I was excited!
TSC: What was it like standing on the podium?
RB: Have you seen the photos of me with the “trophy” in hand? I mean, they’re almost embarrassing. My smile is so big that it looks like I’m scared! I was SO excited I didn’t even know what to do. I have never stood on the # 1 spot on a podium. I’m so freaking stoked! I called my mom, dad, brother, and roommate immediately and then started screaming! I even dropped an f-bomb with my dad on the phone! I had a hard time containing myself.
TSC: Well, congratulations! What a huge accomplishment.
RB: I’m definitely not someone that can “just act cool.” I rocked out all night and I’m still rocking out! I’ll be stoked for a long time.
TSC: Skiing is such a male dominated sport. Does that make you push harder?
RB: Nah, whatever. It’s a male dominated sport, but you just have to look at it as being a “founding mother” of the sport, someone who’s paving the way for youngsters, giving inspiration, showing what the girls are capable of. The numbers will change and some day when I don’t have teeth and I’m hunched over on a walker wearing a diaper, some little whipper snapper will come to me and say “thank you” for inspiring women’s skiing back in the day. That will mean I did a good job. It’s all about the next generation and the generation after that. We have to stay positive and keep shredding hard and be grateful for what we get, but show that we’re worth more too. It’s all about pushing the envelope with skiing, sponsorship, teamwork, presence and athleticism.
TSC: How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a skier?
RB: I was a baby, maybe 3 or 4. It’s not like it became a regular thing for me. I was living in Michigan and our family went on our first ski vacation and it was pretty awesome. I just did the weekend warrior thing, following my dad around until high school.
TSC: Do you have any tips for girls that want to ski?
RB: You can keep up! Don’t ever tell yourself “oh, well he’s a guy, so that explains why he can do that and I can’t.” PUSH YOURSELF! You’re capable of more. Let’s melt some faces ladies!
TSC: Where’s your favorite place to “melt those faces?”
RB: Cottonwood Canyons, baby! Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, hands down!
TSC: What’s your favorite thing to do in the off season?
RB: Mountain bike, however, my favorite thing to do the second the season is over is put on a pear of flip flops, pack a 2 pound bag and head to a surf location where I can put my toes in the sand, read 3 books and surf 2 times a day!
TSC: Any side projects we should know about?
RB: Yes! In the nature of Zoolander not being able to talk about “magnum” which he’s been working on but hasn’t perfected, I’m in the midst of working on a project that’s designed to help promote female visibility in action sports. I’m really passionate and excited about it!
– End of interview