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A Q&A With Nat Segal

We were excited to be able to catch up with Nat Segal to talk all things outdoors and skiing! She’s this week’s featured jumper and she has some great words of wisdom we can all live by.

What inspires you/inspired you to be such an outdoorsy lady? My family has always been active and into sport, whether it’s skiing, swimming, running and camping. I was just lucky enough to grow up around people who appreciated the outdoors. When I was 14 I begged my mum to send me to a boarding school that was located in the Australian bush and focused on outdoor education – we spent our weekends in the classroom and mid-week camping, hiking, skiing and learning all kinds of incredible things about bushcraft. After that year I kept it up and it just became part of my lifestyle.

How did you first get involved in skiing? I first learnt to ski at Mt Buller in Australia, my parents were keen weekend warriors and after teaching my sister the ropes, at the age of two they strapped a pair of kids skis to my feet, donned the edgy-wedgy, put me on a leash and let me fly down the mountain. I must have enjoyed it because growing up we spent almost every holiday and weekend at the snow. Around the age of eight I started to ski with the Mt Buller Race Club and from the age of 13 I trained and competed in moguls. Before completing high school, I quit competitions so I could study and spent the next five years completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts and coaching freestyle and freeride skiing with Team Buller Riders. Somewhere in the middle I took a year off from university, moved to Chamonix for the winter, learnt about big mountains and freeride competitions and never looked back. Don’t worry; I managed to graduate from university, much to my mum’s relief.

Telluride Freeskiing Championships, 2014; Credit MSI

What is the greatest experience/biggest learning that has come out of your skiing career to date? I honestly believe that skiing has shaped my life, so in that respect my whole skiing career has been one big lesson. Competitive skiing has taught me how to think rationally and strategically, as well as showing me the glass ceilings you can push through when you believe and have confidence in yourself. Organising and being involved in an expedition like ‘Shifting Ice and Changing Tides’ showed me that anything is possible – as long as you are willing to put in the hard yards. And travelling as a ski bum has opened my eyes to other people, cultures and given me a deep respect for the mountains and the environment. Being injured also taught me a lot, It made me realize how lucky I am, as well as teaching me that when one small window closes, a huge doorway bangs open.

Nat and Camilla Edwards on the summit of thier first descent in Iceland during the Shifting Ice and Changing Tides expedition last year; Photo: Haukur Sigur

Do you have any “jumping” (aka challenges, risks) experiences that our “Jumpers” can learn from? I think one of the most important ‘jumping’ experiences that I have had was a result of a trip to Canada a few years ago. Long story short I was skiing in avalanche terrain around a backcountry hut with two other good guy friends. I disagreed with a lot of our group choices – including the decision to stay for the another day skiing, despite having set off avalanches all day and one meter of fresh snow predicted overnight. At the time my friends made me feel like a nag and a wuss for wanting to cut our losses and head home. I felt peer-pressured and we stayed. The next day we set off a handful of slab and remote avalanches in the trees that if we had been caught would have taken us into deep gullies and terrain traps. We were lucky and made it home without any incidents – but it’s the kind of blind luck that could very easily lure you into a false sense of security. We did not behave appropriately given the conditions and the terrain. This experience taught me to never let other people make me doubt my experience and education in the future – since then I always voice my opinions on safety and have turned away from numerous lines and terrain because no pow turn or sick line is worth risking your life.

Ski touring off the backside of Treble Cone, NZ; Photo: Neil Kerr

Who or what brought you to SheJumps? I came across SheJumps during my first season in the Wasatch in 2011 – I spent the day coaching kids from the Boys and Girls Club at Alta. From then on I was involved with SheJumps events in the area and was lucky enough to be a participant in the inaugural SheJumps Alpine Finishing School at Selkirk Lodge in 2012. I work with a grass-roots program called Chicks with Stix in Australia that aims to get more women involved in freeride / freestyle skiing and snowboarding in Australia. So it was really cool to find a similar organisation to work with in the northern hemisphere.

What example do you think is important to set for women (and girls) who might want to become more active or try a new sport? That it’s ok to try, to fail, pick yourself up again and try again until you learn. A lot of the time I think we put pressure on ourselves to succeed outright because that is what we think is expected of us. Whether it is learning to jump off a cliff or climbing a harder route – no one is perfect and you can’t expect to ‘stomp it’ every time. I read a quote from Tatum Monod the other day along the lines of “sometimes you gotta fall before you fly.” I think the best example that we can set for each other is not to beat yourself up when you are trying something new (or even old) just use the experience to succeed in the future.

Photo: Fellow Jumper Abby Stanford, abbydellphotography

If you had one piece of advice you could impart on the SheJumps community (about the outdoors or otherwise), what would it be? Get out there and give it a go.

Featured photo credit: Aaron Jamieson, Niseko Japan

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