Sandra Lahnsteiner seemingly doesn’t have the capability to sit still. In just the last year, the 38-year-old skier, filmmaker and director captured her fifth nomination for Best Female Performance at the iF3 Festival for her work in Shades of Winter: COUPLES (which she directed); she filmed powder segments with Mida Film; and she’s been working on expanding her Shades of Winter series to new markets to continue highlighting the efforts of women within the action sports space. We recently caught up with her to see how she’s been balancing it all, and what this upcoming season will bring for her.
So what’s new for you? What’ve you been getting into this offseason?
My summer’s been amazing, I’ve been outdoors a lot, biking as many days as possible.
For me, mountain biking downhill on the trails is such a great way to prepare as a skier for the season. There are so many familiarities between the two sports, and it allows me to get into the same mindset I need for skiing–that is, focusing on what’s two meters ahead of me. Nothing else matters on your bike
Besides that I was working to finish two of my Shades of Winter film projects. One is Shades of Winter: COUPLES, which I filmed in Canada with Julia Mancuso, Janine Kuzma and our spouses. The other project is Shades of Winter: INTERCONNECT, which is a skiing and mountain biking film that I did out in Iceland.
Finally, I have been working on a Shades of Winter Film Fest. It will be five events at the end of November and beginning of December held in Stockholm, Vienna, Innsbrook, Salzburg and Munich. I’m really excited for that¬– and the festival won’t just be showing Shades of Winter films. I want to be able to share my platform with other women and screen the projects they’re working on.
You mention ‘COUPLES.’ How did it feel to be nominated by iF3 for Best Female Performance for the film?
It’s a huge honor to be in the female nominees. It feels great to be among the nominees–there are some amazing, ripping girls out there–and the fact we get to showcase that in films is wonderful. It’s my fifth nomination since 2013, and while I’m not a competitive type of person, in general, I’m very competitive against myself. So, this nomination just shows me I’ve been doing some great skiing in the different projects I’ve worked on.
Any big plans for the upcoming winter?
I’ve been thinking so much about my upcoming projects and everything comes back to content and storytelling. It’s always the same questions: What should I do new? What’s the story?
Everything I do will be deeply connected with the DNA of Shades of Winter, that is, featuring female performance and connecting it with highest quality standards of filmmaking. Hopefully, I can widen and expand that platform for more athletes.
I [also] want to expand my Shades of Winter ski camps to get more women to sign up for them. We want to make sure there are always Shades of Winter athletes coaching the camps, and keep the camps small, but bring them to new resorts. We’re going to have the camps in Austria–one in Saalbach and one in Dachstein–and we’ll connect them with Engelberg in Switzerland.
For my personal skiing, I love tree skiing and pillows, so I want to spend more time in that terrain because it’s so playful—and that obviously would mean a trip to Canada. I’ve been to Alaska four times but I haven’t been since 2015, and Alaska just requires such a different mindset. Anytime I look at something outside of Austria, I always think about skiing spines again, so Alaska will be on my list.
Other than that, I want to explore places I wouldn’t go to if I wasn’t a skier. I love trips where I get to explore new cultures. Last year, I got to ski Georgia. The mountains are amazing there, and I’m fascinated by the opportunities there. I want to dig deeper into those Eastern [European] mountain ranges.
What gear are you most excited to be using this year?
Last year, I got on the Ranger 102 FR, and it’s only 102[-mm] underfoot, but it’s been my go-to ski for everything. I had pin-tech bindings on one pair and classic alpine bindings on another. For me, it’s been amazing. I always look for playful skis–I’m not the heaviest skier–and my previous skis were too stiff for tree skiing.
But, I also want to ski fast, so I need something that can be a hard-charger. As an athlete, I have access to all lengths and models of skis, but that always seemed stupid to me. I like to have a simple collection in my garage—having a go-to for everyday is huge for me.