Two Australian Sisters, Two British Columbia Mountains, One Ski Love

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is an Aussie travel writer and a self-confessed Snow It All who covers all things winter and ski.

The vastness of British Columbia’s mountains is a far cry from the inner-city streets of Melbourne where the Segal sisters grew up. These big BC mountains have transformed the talented urban siblings—Anna now calls Whistler home and Nat is living an explorer’s life among the peaks of Revelstoke.

The Segals started their ski careers as mogul skiers at Mt Buller in Australia. Anna went on to represent Australia at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in ski slopestyle, scoring herself X Games gold, silver, and bronze along the way. Nat chose a big-mountain ski career with stints on the Freeride World Tour. Together they produced their cult ski-film hit, Finding the Line, exploring the theme of fear while filming mostly in the BC mountains they now love.

“I learnt how small I was,” says Nat of her first time in BC in 2012, while chatting with us on the phone from Revelstoke.

“It dwarfed me” laughs Nat’s older sister, Anna, days later on Skype from Whistler. “I saw all the peaks and it just dwarfed me.”

 

Anna Segal in Callaghan Valley, near Whistler | Guy Fattal

Anna had spent most of her professional life in the terrain park before moving to Whistler to “just ski powder” after the Olympic Games. She soon found herself drawn out of the park and into the hills for some serious mountain-style schooling. Whistler’s mammoth terrain, both in and out of the resort, is a learning ground for the world’s best. You don’t tame Whistler, Whistler tames you.

“Having respect as a professional slopestyle skier doesn’t make you a good backcountry partner” explains Anna of her early Whistler days. “I had to learn a lot, then prove I was serious because it’s wilder out here. I hadn’t skied really steep slopes before, I didn’t know about sluff management, or how to pack for a hut trip, or how long ski tour days really are and the techniques to be efficient when skiing.”

Nat Segal takes on BC terrain | Guy Fattal

Meanwhile, a six-hour drive on the other side of the province, her sister Nat was beginning her own love affair with British Columbia.

“When I competed at Revy for the Freeride World Tour, I fell in love with the ski resort terrain,” says Nat, who moved to the town full time last summer.

“I didn’t realize it existed. I was used to a different style of skiing and Revelstoke offered pillows of fun and playful skiing, and it challenged me in a new way as a skier.”

Nat still took a month cruising around British Columbia in search of the perfect ski town in which to push herself personally and professionally. Revelstoke kept drawing her back—for its mix of mountain town and community vibe.

“I got really excited about Rogers Pass as I love big terrain,” says Nat of the famed backcountry mountain pass in the region. “You really get the idea that you are a tiny dot; you have to be self-sufficient and independent, but with the right skills you can feel really empowered in that.”

Both women are now embracing all things Canadian. Nat joined the local softball team, took up mountain biking, cheered on the local hockey team every Friday, and found like-minded mountain women as hiking companions.

 

“Revy women are so inspiring, doing all different types of things,” says Nat of her new-found community. “Many athletes are entrepreneurial as you have to do your own thing to create jobs, so there are a lot of creatives, photographers, designers, jewelers. You see most of them at Dose Coffee—that’s my hands-down coffee go-to. The owners are Australian and know how to do it well.”

In Whistler, Anna bought a truck, found the best Aussie-style coffee at Camp and Cranked, and set up breakfast shop at the Green Moustache to fuel her for a day in the mountains. She’s even considering buying a sled (snowmobile).

“You don’t have to search far to find someone to go on an adventure with here,” says Anna. “If I want to go ski something mellow or extreme, or park or groomers, I’m never short of someone to ask. People in BC love spending time outdoors. They love adventure and they are fun and open-minded, very similar in character to Australians.”

After four and a half years in Whistler, she’s still in awe of where she lives. “I will stop multiple times, still, on the Sea-to-Sky Highway just to take photos. It’s hard to describe this place and how beautiful it is unless you come here.”

Header image: Anna (left) and Nat Segal | Guy Fattal

Revelstoke Mountain Resort | Andrew Strain

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POSTED BY: Rachael Oakes-Ash

Rachael Oakes-Ash, a.k.a. @misssnowitall, is Australia’s leading ski and snow journo and the founder of Snowsbest.com. The self-confessed snow addict has schussed the slopes of the world’s best ski destinations, including British Columbia, for 15 years by chairlift, cat, heli, and skins and written for all the big guns from Condé Nast to ESPN Freeskiing, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, TIME, and more.

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