MARCH RADNESS: Rachael Burks
March is Women's History Month, and Rachael Burks is a bad-to-the-bone adventurer making history RIGHT NOW.
Rachael Burks' first words to the guide after skiing off a 50 foot cliff and getting trapped below the surface with barely an airhole: "Please don't NOT let us do that again, 'cause that was so fun!" That tells you the first thing you need to know about Rachael, she knows that life is here to be fun. So why not get out there and make it fun?!
Life only happens if you get up and go. That's why she's our pick for what we're calling March Radness -- a highlight of an awesome "wish-I-were-her" woman who is making history now. Whether signing posters at a ski movie premiere, or hopping in a heli in Alaska, or just diving into bushes off the roof of the house, Rachael makes life rock.
I first met Rachael at Snowbird in the early 2000's, hiking and skiing laps on Baldy together and hitting a popular cliff called Amphitheater. In the years since then her airs have gotten bigger, the lines steeper, and the consequences hairier. But the laughs have gotten bigger too. She has starred in movies by the late Warren Miller, Teton Gravity Research and many others where large airs, fast skiing and full-face laughs have become her hallmark. She skis in a bad-to-the-bone way, with massive confidence and zero pretense. Because that's what comes from knowing that enthusiasm and stoke are what we're doing all this for, anyway. There's no reason to take life in half-measures. Crazy how Rachael just has that clarity.
Rachael grew up in Utah, was on skis at an early age, and has been one of the baddest skiers at Alta for years now. Anyone who watches her ski movies can see her confident skiing. What they don't see is that Rachael's other natural talent is infectious friendship. She is absolutely the first one to say: "We should totally do this!" And that is 100% what we are about here at Gear.com. Get up, get out there, and bring others along for the ride. Grab them and get them out of bed if you have to, and go. She reads books voraciously, doesn't self-promote, and embraces new friends instantly with an offer to spin up a barbecue. Her personality attracts people, instead of her chasing them. That's someone who is comfortable in her own skin. She's definitely one of those wish-I-were-her people.
There's so much seriousness surrounding our sport, with politics and climate and big business and high risks. But Rachael gets us all fired-up with the self-effacing stoke. It's an enthusiastic impatience with mediocrity, and a naturally inclusive character that reminds us of Shane McConkey. It's THAT level of loving life and going for it. Not willing to just go along with the current state of things, but also not taking yourself too seriously either. She looked at the women in big mountain competitions and basically said: "Oh, we can amp this up big time, folks. Let's do this." And then did it.
To get a taste of her skiing, you've gotta watch Rachael's B-Squared edit from Unicorn Picnic's "Pretty Faces". And that is just the footy they didn't have room for in the film. She was the runaway favorite of the show, and the degree of confidence she rocks in every shot will tell you why. Even the funny spread eagles and backflips off of snowcats show you a bit of her stoke and laughter, and what makes life totally sing when Rachael's around. Here's to Rachael -- we hope you have a killer March!