Words: Reilly Doucet, Altitude Sports writer
Freeskiing According to The Blondes: Friendship, Films, and The North Face
What does it mean to excel in a sport? For Emily Childs, Janelle Yip, and Tonje Kvivik, success is not only measured by their killer backcountry tricks, but also in the laughs shared between the slopes of the Canadian Rockies. The trio of young women make up The Blondes: a ski crew based in British Columbia making a big name for themselves with their epic freeride skills and infectious energy.
Between their popular ski edit videos and landing a sponsorship with The North Face, The Blondes are carving their place in the ski world. I spoke with them to get to the roots behind their raw, authentic vibes and desire to never stop exploring the world of freeskiing.
Though skiing is an individual activity, Emily, Janelle, and Tonje decided to team up after forming a connection with each other in the mountain town of Revelstoke back in 2016. Their high-energy, thrill-seeking personalities drew them together like magnets. They fondly retold the story of their first ever sled skiing run together, which resulted in a crash from trying to catch a windlip (a naturally-occuring jump created by wind-blown snow). In the aftermath of it all, they decided to form The Blondes.
Since that moment, they’ve continued to inspire each other to push their limits. As Emily put it, inspiration comes from all the skiers that surround her, from “just watching others try, progress, and feed off each other.” The Blondes make it clear that mutual encouragement is the secret ingredient to success on the slopes.
With their time spent between the pillow drops of the snowy Rocky mountains, the girls certainly know a thing or two about landing tricks. I got all the insight into their favourite tricks to pull off (and which ones are the hardest to get right).
“Flat 3 is my favorite trick by far. I feel comfortable with it,” revealed Janelle. But when it comes to the most challenging ones, she told it like it is: “I struggle with being comfortable laying out my backflips really nicely.”
Emily explained that the hand drag 3 is her current favourite and the most difficult to pull off: “I definitely thought about that one for years before I actually got it.” If you're not familiar with these tricks, give 'em a quick video search and you'll get a taste of just how astonishing they are.
The Blondes’ electric, relatable energy lies in the fact that they embrace all parts of their thrilling backcountry adventures, not just the moments of glory. In between clips of them fearlessly landing impressive lines, they show the crashes, the tricks they’re still trying to get right, and the laughs shared between shotgunned beers. They’re laid-back, always learning, and in it for the love of the sport. When they first started the Blondes, they never imagined it would become what it is today. But they’re certainly enjoying the ride.
To perform at the level they’re at today, it takes the right gear and the right support. That’s where The North Face comes in. Getting sponsored as a team has been amazing for the Blondes, as it makes it easier for them to continue growing and learning as a crew. Working with The North Face is a perfect match, according to Tonje: “They see us as a group but also as individuals, and they want to help us grow.”
The North Face inspires The Blondes to be their best, and part of that includes equipping them with the best gear for the backcountry. The girls share their key pieces from the outdoor brand, and first thing’s first: gloves. Janelle confirmed The North Face makes the best gloves in the game. Her personal favourites are the Steep series gloves. Emily was on the same page: “The Steep Patrol Mitts are great for keeping your hands warm but still give you the dexterity to fiddle with zippers and straps.” On the clothing side of things, The A-CAD FUTURELIGHT™ Bib is also favourite among The Blondes for its amazing pocket space.
Another important component of their skiing gear? Packs. Tonje loves the 34L Snomad Backpack because it provides her with the space to hold all her safety equipment and essentials. This is critical for safety, but also for performance. “I ski better when I know that I am doing what I can to keep my friends and myself safe,” Tonje said. At the end of the day, tricks and antics aside, the core of The Blondes is the bond they share together, and protecting one another always comes first.
It’s obvious that their fun-loving attitude and friendship-minded approach to skiing is paying off. Janelle was just awarded Female Athlete of the Year at High Five Festival in Annecy France, and Tonje and Janelle were recently both nominated for skier of the year by the International Freeski Film Festival. But there’s another accomplishment on the horizon that really has the girls fired up: an upcoming movie with Matchstick Productions (MSP).
The Blondes have been garnering attention for their ski edit videos for a while, but this movie is huge for them, as MSP is a household name in the ski community. Tonje considers this project her proudest accomplishment so far: “Ever since I was seven years old, I’ve been watching their movies at our cabin in Norway. I’m so grateful to be a part of such a legendary production!” The movie will be called “Hotel Blondes,” and will feature their backstory, some of their summer work, and of course, The Blondes in all their skiing glory in Whistler. Stay tuned for the finished product.
Throughout the exciting awards, accomplishments, and sponsorships The Blondes have gained over the years, one thing has remained constant: their love for the sport. Skiing and competing at such a high level can sometimes come with a certain stressful intensity, but their positive and laid-back attitudes are a breath of fresh mountain air. Emily Childs, Janelle Yip, and Tonje Kvivik show the world that there are no limits to what you can accomplish when your goals are having fun with good company. So what are you waiting for? Grab your skis, grab your friends, and let the good times roll.