Changing Perspective

Colleen Winn's picture
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Female skiing icons inspire local girls.

“Tell me. What will you do with this one wild and precious life?” Lynsey Dyer asked a room full of more than 70 impressionable, high-school-aged girls. “I wasn’t doing what I ‘should've’ been; I was doing this crazy thing that I just wanted to try,” she said as she shared her story of pursuing her passions, overcoming negativity and fear, making mistakes, and ultimately succeeding at living her dream. Dyer, a professional big-mountain skier, photographer, artist, adventurer, and co-founder of SheJumps, volunteered her time at this year’s Bright and Bold Conference, along with Olympic mogul skier and native Bozemanite Heather McPhie. The annual conference is put on by Thrive’s Girls for a Change committee. In addition to powerful talks from McPhie and Dyer, the participants had their pick of over 30 unique and stimulating workshops, including archery and drumming, as well as an enthralling “Find Your Inner Power” talk. Open to all girls grades 8-12 throughout Montana, the conference hopes to educate, empower, and impassion teens to relentlessly pursue their dreams with confidence and without hesitation.

girls do archery at GFAC conference
Steady as she goes

Having female role models like Dyer and McPhie at a young age can leave a lasting impression. Young people are often confused about what their priorities are supposed to be, which makes it difficult to be outspoken and confident in their pursuits. Pulling stories from their personal and professional lives, Dyer and McPhie set a high standard of pushing their limits and following their intuition, while staying true to what they believe in and what makes them happy. Sure, these concepts are easy to understand, but they are difficult to successfully apply to real life. The conference as a whole did a fantastic job at showing these young women just how powerful they really can be. 

GFAC attendants

Saturday morning in the Strand Union Building at MSU, opening speaker Heather McPhie talked about facing her fears in her last-ever Olympic run. She made the decision to hold nothing back; in turn having one of the best runs of her life. During the Q&A session, someone asked, “What if you don’t know what you’re passionate about?” While pondering the question herself, McPhie advised the auidence to channel their focus toward the things that energize them, to ask questions, and to always be open-minded.

Heather McPhie speaks at GFAC
Heather McPhie speaks at the conference

Dyer briefly gave her backstory of where she first found her inspiration. Because she grew up in a mountain town full of ski culture, her parents had been taking her to ski-movie premieres since she was little. She remembers watching a segment from a Warren Miller film in amazement, and dreaming of gracefully skiing waist-deep powder just like the pro skiers on the big screen. Noticing that there were no women skiing in the film, Dyer made it her goal to be one of the first professional female skiers featured in these movies. Years later, her hard work reaped rewards when she was featured in films produced by Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research, and others. In 2011, she even directed, starred in,and produced the all-girls ski film, Pretty Faces.

Lynsey Dyer speaks at the Girls For A Chance ConferenceKeynote speaker Lynsey Dyer 

Dyer wanted to make one thing clear to her audience: It’s okay to be uncomfortable. In fact, most of the time it's preferred. Be gritty, gain wisdom from mistakes, and embrace even the most unglamorous parts of life.
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