In 2017, Pemberton skier Tatum Monod suffered a debilitating knee injury while filming in Alaska that set her on a nearly two-year-long recovery. Unsure if she would ever set foot on skis again, she lost her passion for the sport that had fuelled her since childhood.
“If I miss a ski season, it’s my livelihood, my income. My life revolves around skiing, so just dealing not only with the physical side of the injuries but the mental side and that aspect was definitely really hard to overcome,” explains the Red Bull athlete.
As Monod would eventually learn, sometimes the only way forward is by going back. It wasn’t until she began retracing her family’s long history in skiing that she reignited her passion, an effort that was captured in her new short film, which premieres at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, Passage.
“It reminded me why I do what I do and why I love what I do,” she says.
For as long as she can remember, Monod was on the sales floor at her family’s mountain sports store in Banff, Monod Sports, which her grandfather founded in 1949. A Swiss ski guide who spent years in Chamonix, it was his example that reiterated “that skiing is just so much part of my blood and my DNA.” Monod says.
“He was skiing, in the backcountry especially, before backcountry skiing, quote-unquote, was a thing. He was really a pioneer of that in a sense,” she recalls. “I didn’t realize the profound effect he had on so many people in terms of inspiring them to ski and inspiring them to enjoy the mountains and the outdoors. That’s really my goal with what I do. To be two completely different timeframes apart but to have my grandfather and I share the same commonality and the same goal at the end of the day was really cool to learn.”
A ski movie regular and popular Instagrammer with nearly 100,000 followers, Monod’s other passion also connects back to her roots. Working at her family’s shop almost as soon as she could walk, she gained a deep knowledge of outerwear product design, something she eventually parlayed into work with Arc’Teryx.
“Really, when I think outside of skiing, product design is what totally stokes my fire and lights me up,” Monod says.
With a particular passion for women’s outerwear, Monod is striving to move on from the days of “pink it and shrink it” to create functional gear that women actually want to wear in the backcountry.
“Even from the silhouettes, the fits, the colours, [Arc’Teryx] realizes women want to be comfortable. We don’t want to wear extra smalls and synch out our hips and showing our figures,” she says. “We’re out there with the men pushing ourselves and we need the gear that is going to match and keep up.”
Passage is one of five shorts screening as part of VIMFF’s Snowsports Show 2 on Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., with the films starting at 7:30. Tickets are $23 for adults and $20 for youths and seniors, available at vimff.org.