This article originally appeared on Ski Mag
Trust me when I say there aren't a lot of ski movies out there that showcase moms getting rad. This is one of the reasons why "Here, Hold My Kid"--a new comedic short from pro skiers Elyse Saugstad and Jackie Paaso--is so refreshing. The trailer for the 39-minute-long film is out now, and the movie will be making its festival premiere at the High Five Festival on October 1 in Annecy, France.
Starring and produced by veteran big-mountain skiers and former Freeride World Tour competitors Saugstad and Paaso, the film follows the two athletes as they cart their one-year-old sons to three legendary locations--Tahoe, Alaska, and Andermatt, Switzerland--and attempt to create a contract-winning ski segment. The plot is a spoof mockumentary that pits Saugstad, who plays an ultra-competitive, high-maintenance diva--against Paaso, whose character is a whimsical, scattered goof. (For the record, both athletes play highly exaggerated versions of their actual personalities. And no, they're not trained actors, but they get the job done well. It helps that they didn't have to act all that much.)
"There was always someone melting down or a kid throwing up. We were stretched to the limit," Paaso told me recently from her home in Sweden. "Then you have to get on the hill and perform. It wasn't hard to act tense, because the tension was already there."
The film shows the absurd realities of raising small humans and also the impossible hilarity of trying to do that while being a professional athlete in a high-risk sport. I'm not spoiling too much by saying there's a pivotal scene in which Saugstad and Paaso sabotage each other while heli skiing then get into a physical altercation that ends with smeared baby poop, pelvic floor insults, and a bottle of milk sprayed in the eye. (Picture the ludicrous Hollywood comedy "Bad Moms" but set in an aircraft hangar in AK.) "There were situations where you just had to laugh about it," Paaso says.
In real life, both Saugstad and Paaso are married to pro skiers, and their partners--Cody Townsend and Reine Barkered, respectively--join the film for some of the travels, taking on childcare duties as the moms go shred. The skiing in the film is notably excellent but not at all surprising if you know how skilled these two women are on steep terrain. (There's also a funny cameo from pro snowboarder and fellow mom Leanne Pelosi.)
Behind the scenes of this film’s making were sick toddlers, desperate searches for babysitters, late-night wakeups, and snow conditions that weren't exactly prime. "When you're making a ski movie, you have a finite amount of days to work with filmable conditions," says Saugstad. "But when you have a kid, those days don't always line up. And it's not like filming a ski movie happens during regular daycare hours."
"Here, Hold My Kid" was written and directed by Adam Gendle and Johno Verity, best known for their work with European ski crew Legs of Steel. Gendle and Verity's 2014 mockumentary "Ski Good, Money Will Come" was called one of the funniest movies in skiing at the time, and it was that film that Saugstad and Paaso thought of when they were trying to envision a movie celebrating motherhood and skiing but with a slapstick comedy vibe. "I knew I wanted to make something with Jackie where we are embracing motherhood but also having fun with it," Saugstad told me. "Women aren't all serious. It's fun to have fun. Especially when you become a parent."
Saugstad and Paaso hope the film helps families who make the formidable effort to take their kids skiing feel seen. "We also wanted to show that you can be a mother and maintain your career--but that none of that is easy," Paaso says. The film was funded with help from some of Paaso and Saugstad's sponsors, including Orage, Scott, Blizzard, Hestra, and Mammut, as well as a small grant from &Mother, an organization co-founded by Olympic track and field athlete Alysia Montano that supports changing the narrative around women in sports. Adds Paaso, "You can still get out there and do things, but you can't look at it the same way as you did before."
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