True to the German-efficiency-claim, Vera Janssen has made her way from a shred-fanatic school kid to a full on movie pro with parts in Lipstick Productions 5 more minutes…please?! and Alterna Films and we wanted to know how exactly she did that…
Interview by Anna Langer
Happy New Year! What did you do over the holidays?
I just stayed at home in BC and my parents visited me over New Years. We got a bunch of snow over the holidays so it was really fun!
How has the winter been for you so far?
It’s been really good. This is the first season where I don’t have a season pass and I’ve just have been sledding lots – I’m really enjoying it because it’s kind of a new way to look at the season – before I would only go sledding on bluebird days and now I just go all the time. I’m really liking it to avoid the crowds on powder days. The sled zones stay really empty on those grey, low-light days…
How many winters have you spent in Whistler now?
My first winter here was in 2007, so I’ve been here for four years now.
You moved to the US when you were 16, how did that come about?
I grew up in Western Germany and I wasn’t able to snowboard at home, so I was always traveling to Austria even when I was really young. I just wanted to move to the mountains. I have always known that that’s where I belong and that’s what I needed to do.
Did you ever regret that step?
No, it’s been the best decision of my life! I love the mountains and I got to know so many different mountain ranges and now I finally found my home mountains: the Coast Mountains in BC!
Would you advise young girls eager to shred to do the same as you?
It’s not for everyone, but I would encourage everyone to dream your dreams and follow them. It will make you very happy. And if you don’t know what you want, you won_t be able to reach out and grab it when it comes your way…
You’re dedicating a lot of your time to filming. Why did you opt for that focus?
When I was young, I was watching a lot of snowboard movies and reading every magazine I could get my hands on. It really made me learn a lot about snowboarding and the mountains and it made me realize that that was what I wanted to do. I never cared about who won which contest – I was all about the adventures that the snowboarding lifestyle brought with it. So that’s the path I chose…
I like sharing my time in the mountains with the people in the valley or in other mountains. I would like for them to understand the feeling and to motivate them to go out and do it themselves.
How is filming with Alterna?
The guys at Alterna are super awesome. A lot of them have been in the Whistler area for a long time so they are really knowledgeable about the spots here and the terrain. They have shown me many awesome zones and I’ve learned so much from being in the backcountry with them. They are also super-fun and we are always laughing. My favorite crew to ride with is Craig Beaulieu and Andrew Burns – they are always having such a fun time! I also really like riding with Dave Short because he likes the same kind of Big Mountain Freestyle riding that I do and together we have explored many untracked zones.
You also had a little part in the Lipstick movie, was there a difference between the two?
I never really filmed with the girls at Lipstick, I submitted them some of my footage from the season here in BC. But I have known Conny for 10 years – we used to ride together in the Alps a bunch and we’ve always stayed in touch – and she is just such good vibes to ride with! I also really love hanging out with the Nikita Girls – Lisa Filzmoser, Julia Baumgartner, and Ana Rumiha – we hang out in Reykjavik at least once a year together and it’s always such a funny time to be with them! I’m really stoked on the project and I hope to get some more footage into the movie for next year!
What do you think about girls movies like ‘5 more minutes…please?!’ or Peep Show in general?
When I was younger, all the snowboard videos had all guys and just one or two girls. I remember it was Tara Dakides, Tina Basich, Cara-Beth Burnside – and I was really looking up to them. I was so pumped that they were out with the guys and keeping up with them and hitting the same jumps and it really related to the way that I was riding: with a bunch of guys, showing them that I can keep up and hit all the same stuff. To this day, that’s exactly how I ride. When everyone in a group hits a jump, it’s easy for me to just hit it. When there are a bunch of girls riding, I have often seen it where one girl says “let’s just hit it next run/tomorrow” and all the other girls agree. Of course I have also seen where girls are really pushing each other to hit big stuff – but my style is just to follow the boys around and hit whatever they’re hitting without really thinking much about it.
So to answer the question – I think it’s awesome girls movies are out there to motivate other girls to go and ride. But I really enjoy “normal” snowboard movies as well and I get really stoked when a girl has a sick part in a guys film.
Do you still watch a lot of movies today?
Not so much anymore, I ride so much that I don’t wanna watch people ride once I get home. But I really get inspired from watching Moto and Sled films. I sure watch a crazy amount of snowmobile movies…
What inspires you more, the girls’ or guys’ parts?
I really love watching guys snowboard, they are usually more smooth and strong and hit bigger stuff. I get really stoked on seeing girls ride as well though, especially when they have good style.
What tips do you have for girls who wanna do more filming themselves?
Buy a GoPro and learn how to edit movies. Have fun out there. The internet is making it easy to spread the word and if you have the skills, people will notice!
What goals do you have for the future?
I wanna stay happy and keep snowboarding full-time for as long as I can. I hope I get lots of powder days. I also wanna get a couple shots in a snowmobile movie.
And what plans in 2012?
I will be home in BC and ride and film as much as possible. In late March, we are leaving on our annual Alaska-trip to Tailgate Alaska and to meet up with some sled friends in Anchorage. I just finished editing our movie from our 2011 trip and would be stoked if you guys had the chance to check it out!
Vera is sponsored by Nikita, Nitro, Deeluxe, GoPro, Osiris, Ogio, Dragon, PowerBar, Remind Insoles, Pow gloves, Sueno’s, Mahfia.com, Camp of Champions and Route99 Motorsports.