Each Other’s Shelter

A No Wasted Days™ Story

Robin van Gyn thinks a lot about outerwear. “It’s all that is between us and the elements. I have a lot of sentimentality for my old gear.” She still has the board she was riding when she won Natural Selection in 2021, and the board on which she won Women’s Video Part of the Year in 2016 for the film Full Moon. “I just can’t let them go.”

It’s why building a tent out of deconstructed jackets was more than just a lark. “I wanted to take all the previous owners’ wisdom and experiences in the mountains and add our own time stamp to the fabric.”

Van Gyn imagined a crew of athletes sheltering under the rippling whispers of hundreds of unforgettable moments, while making new ones of their own. Keeping the circle turning: Honouring past trajectories, celebrating the present moment.  One season, five locations (Tahoe, Mt. Baker, Whistler, Bella Coola and Alaska), six of the strongest women skiers and riders in the business, and a tent made from 137 unrepairable jackets, were the ingredients.

Van Gyn tapped LA-based textile recyclers, the Suay Sew Shop, to bring her tent vision to life. (Seven Arcteryx designers would later deconstruct the tent and make a renewed jacket for Ashima Shiraishi, cycling the project’s momentum from the mountains to the boulders.)* But that many strong women together? That would take an equal dose of imagination, collaboration, interweaving and puzzle-solving.

quote-leftThere’s a lot of power in coming together 
and lifting each other up.quote-right

Skiing and snowboarding are individual sports. And the scarcity of opportunities for women at the elite level has often turned potential colleagues into competitors. Going into the winter season, Arc’teryx had a stacked North American roster – with snowboarding legends Robin van Gyn, Spencer O’Brien and Elena Hight, joining skiers Michelle Parker, Tatum Monod and Lucy Sackbauer. Filming together was an opportunity the women wanted to seize.

The result, Continuum, directed by van Gyn, skier Michelle Parker, and Homestead Creative’s Aaron Blatt, pulled on common threads, including the pleasure of being lifted up and cheered on by colleagues, especially after years of being the only ones, chasing and hustling to keep a spot amongst the boys.

“From my perspective, that’s the direction that women’s skiing is moving,” said Sun Valley-based skier and emergency room nurse, Lucy Sackbauer, one of the athletes featured in the film. “It used to be there was ‘the token’ woman. Now, the louder we cheer for each other, the better it is for everyone. It’s so cool to have people to lean on, people that uplift you, people to play with.”

A cheersquad can mean the difference between a good day and a wasted one. “I skied a line – not the way I wanted to,” said Sackbauer. Disappointment had ruined entire outings before. Not this time. “I got down and Elena just gave me a lot of positive words. To have a supportive woman at the bottom wasn’t something I’ve had before when filming. She just kept the positivity and really turned my day around. Plus, Robin, Spencer and Elena are the most beautiful snowboarders I’ve ever seen.”

Spencer O’Brien and Elena Hight have known each other since they were kids, going through the paces of competitive snowboarding together. Shooting Continuum was their first chance to be in the mountains together – something O’Brien called her full-circle moment.  “Standing together on top of a big mountain line in Alaska was incredible. Seeing the mountains through Elena’s eyes is pretty special. We were a long way from where we started in the park and halfpipe, but the road led us to exactly where we were meant to be.”


Michelle Parker is feeling into the rightness of where she is, too, even if it’s a detour from what she’d planned. Back in high school, her aunt, a photojournalist, sent her a camera and a ton of film. 15 years later, Parker pulled the film stash out. Her aunt was no longer alive, which loaded every shutter click with significance, an imperative to not waste a moment, take none of it for granted.

When Parker’s first director role came the same season that she was care-tending her father through a degenerative illness, she tuned back in to those fleeting freeze-frame moments, the ones you want to impress not just on your memory, but into your cells. She intentionally shot parts of Continuum on film, passing the camera around to all the athletes. She’d been equally deliberate when she retired from slopestyle and half-pipe, choosing to evolve from a competitor to a collaborator  – doing the personal work to interrogate and overturn the idea that the only way a woman can rise up is by putting other women down. “There’s a lot of power in coming together and lifting each other up,” Parker observes.

Juggling filming and care-taking through the season forced Parker to adapt and stay fluid. Having a supportive crew, helped. Elena Hight nods to the strategy as all that we can do when “change is the only constant.”

quote-leftThe louder we cheer for each other,
the better it is for everyone.quote-right

Tatum Monod felt that come to life in the tent. “It was the home base for us to come together and strategize, slow down and absorb our surroundings.” A place to pause beneath the soft scratch of falling snow, of moments landing, leaving their impressions, layering one on top of the next, compressing and shape-shifting just like the snow pack, the seasons, the arcs of our lives.

*Appreciation to the creative wizardry of Elsa – Lee SiuLin, Bin Bin Tan, Laura Lu, Shao Ping Huang, Ella Asuncion, Kim Mai Duong, and Megan Lloyd on the Arc’teryx design team.