Getting Personal with Anne-Flore Marxer
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
By Justine Mulliez
Last week, Franco-Swiss pro snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer was in town with some friends and graciously took time out of her shred-athon to meet with the Echo before ultimately taking second in the Chamonix leg of the Freeride World Tour on her birthday! Here’s what she had to say about being a snowboarder first, a female snowboarder second, an industry activist, and an adventurer always.
Echo: Hi Anne-Flore, how did you start snowboarding?
Anne-Flore: I started snowboarding young, and was originally all about freeriding and backcountry since my resort didn’t have a park. I then got seriously into street and rails, moved onto park and big air contests with all of the European events, then I went off to US for the X Games, US Open, and the Vans Super Crown in 2005. During all of that I was already filming with the Psychopit crew, a French crew doing a lot of backcountry filming. This carried on I did a lot more filming when I started riding more in the US.
How did you evolve into being a freeriding machine?
I started riding in the backcountry to hit kickers but as I progressed, I started looking around for more stuff to do, using more of the natural terrain to do tricks on. The thought process I went through was ‘Oh maybe I could do this trick on a small cliff, or maybe not as big of a trick on a bigger cliff.’ The more I started pushing it, the bigger the features were. Then I started thinking, ‘Why don’t I start from the top, really make this a sick line?’ Then I’ll include the cliff, then that line…
Can you talk about some of the risks involved in freeriding at the pro-level?
Well, the goal of freeriding at our level is to get really good images and visually impressive features. As a rider, you’re looking for some super steep lines and crazy features. So, really, you’re exposing yourself to an increasing level of risk all the time. Maybe, freeriding means less frequent hard shocks to the body, but there’s no room for mistakes. In freestyle, you might break an arm or a knee but you have a comfort zone, a more controlled environment. In freeriding, you miss a landing by 1.5m, and you might die. There are avalanches, there’s slough, if you fall on a line in Alaska, you can tomahawk so hard and so fast that you can break yourself instantly.But risk and progression are intimately linked. Especially in this sport, if we ever want to progress, to push our limits, and reach a higher level, it either works, or it breaks!
You have a movie coming out soon called ‘SEDNA’, about your adventure in Greenland. Can you tell us about it?
Anne-Flore: So Greenland was absolutely fantastic. I had never been in a place so beautiful and so harsh. We were sailing through the fjords of Greenland through icebergs, looking at the mountains with the binoculars, choosing where to put the anchor down. In the morning we would get dropped up at the bottom of the mountain, and would hike 2000m each day to get some fresh lines in places no one had ever snowboarded before, in the middle of absolutely nowhere. All of that came with splitboarding because before that, snowboarders couldn’t access places like this. Splitboards have changed so much for me. Now there are no boundaries, no places or mountains that we can’t reach.
You’re one of the rare women who continue to film video parts year after year. Why do you think there are so few women filming?
Unfortunately, the video crews are a kind of manhood, and there’s definitely an issue with funding and budgets. As a woman, you can’t just turn up and suddenly be in those filming trips because you first have to prove yourself. You have to make sure that the guys know that you can ride all the same spots as them, that you won’t hold them back. They have to respect you and accept that you’ll be on the trip. And once you’re there, whether it’s a kicker or a line, you’re still in competition with the guys, the way that they are with each other, to get the shot that everyone wants for their video part.I don’t have to worry too much anymore about keeping up or imposing myself because I have spent so many years out there doing it, but that’s where we’re limited as women. Being out there takes a lot of experience and a lot of time in the mountains to have the riding ability to work with the guys. Fewer and fewer girls get the chance to build up that experience because nowadays, there aren’t many opportunities for women. Women who are filming can’t find the money for sponsorship to actually keep on making movies.
Why do you think women are more limited when it comes to funding and budgets than their male counterparts?
Honestly, it’s because men are handling the marketing budgets. What’s really frustrating is that 40% of people skiing and snowboarding are women. And as athletes, we all live from a brand’s marketing budget, which is a percentage of its sales. So technically, all companies out there are making money from women buying their products, but that money isn’t being allocated to support female athletes in those marketing budgets.This, and the wrong kind of media exposure really prevents our growth. Like last month, Act Snowboard Magazine printed an article about ‘why girls aren’t as good as guys’, written by a guy who’s never been good enough to be a pro. He’s also the Vans’ team manager. He’s the kind of person who has the budget to organize a girl’s session or something that could help women progress, but instead of using that space to talk about a cool girl who rips, he talks shit about women.Even this Women’s Issue we’re doing here, often people do that so they put all of their women content in the same place and then forget about it. I’m not okay with that! Really, there shouldn’t even be a women’s issue because we should have just as much exposure as men.
Do you think the women’s market has evolved in the last couple of years?
Back when I started filming with Burton, you had to wait for a snowboarding magazine to talk about you to get exposure. But nowadays, you have social media, POV cameras; you can pretty much go out and show the world how good you are. If you’re kind of smart, if you’re kind of funny, you know whatever it is, you can actually make it, which is a massive game changer. Even if you’re a girl, if you’re really really good, you have a way to show what you’re capable of.Contests over the years have also been super important because it pushes the level of riding. You have prize money to win during contests meaning that you could actually make a living off riding, without having to rely on outside sponsorships.When we started, at the first European Open, they wouldn’t let us ride. They told us that slopestyle was too dangerous. They actually removed me and Cheryl Maas from the park, like physically removed us! Nowadays, they have slopestyle in the Olympics and the girls are kicking ass. There’s 20 girls riding, and you can’t tell who’s going to win because they’re all pushing so hard, so in that way, it’s getting better.
How do you think we can continue to push the progression in women’s snowboarding?
The smallest but most important thing is for girls to ride together and motivate each other; that’s the first step. If you always wait to fit in with a crew of guys, you tend to think that it’s normal for them to be better than you. And you don’t have to think that way. I remember the first time I went to Austria, because in France I was basically the only girl riding at that level, there was a whole crew of girls riding together. And they didn’t give a shit; they were having such a good time! They were laughing, building kickers together, and they had such a fun energy and that was the coolest thing. At the end of the day, we ride because it’s fun, that’s the main reason. It’s not about the level, it’s not about the gender, it’s about having fun!
How are you going to push your level of riding, have fun, and continue to be awesome this winter?
Every year I try to have something going on, so this year I’d like to start doing freeride competitions again. I’m really stressed out though because this year, there’s no snow, and I come from doing videos so I like fresh tracks in deep pow. Doing sketchy turns and jumping cliffs in the middle of rocks is intense, so that’s my new challenge, and I do love new challenges!
Note: A few days after this interview (and on her birthday) AF took home second in her first FWT competition in a couple of years. Happy birthday and congrats!!