SALT LAKE CITY — Julieana Rusnak is one of the many frontline workers in Park City that works to live, or more accurately, works to adventure. Years ago, Rusnak signed up for a freeride competition for the first time, not quite knowing what it was all about.
“I lost both skis. I ate it. But it was really fun,” Rusnak said.
After a memorable first go, she continues to compete in the Freeride World Tour qualifiers. Most recently, she competed in Queenstown, New Zealand, and has an upcoming qualifier in Golden, BC, Canada.
The New Zealand event was a chance for Rusnak to revisit some old stomping grounds at The Remarkables Resort, where she worked as a ski instructor before tearing her ACL. The knee injury prompted Rusnak, a Colorado native, to move to Salt Lake City, where she could recover and still be active in the winter without skiing.
To support herself and participate in the Freeride World Tour qualifiers, she works in Salt Lake City for SkiMo Co while she travels and competes during the winter months. In the summertime (when she isn’t enjoying New Zealand winters), Rusnak is a mountain bike coach at Deer Valley Resort and a raft guide for All Seasons Adventures.
Her newest focus is her film production company, which premiered its first film, “The Gnardashians,” Friday, November 11.
“[‘The Gnardashians’] has mainly female skiers; we do have one nonbinary person as well,” she said. “I’m hoping to do some projects with [women, queer folks, non-binary folks, people of color, and trans people] to just show that there’s diversity within ski culture that just hasn’t had the space yet, and to help other people who fall into those groups who maybe feel like they don’t belong in the ski industry.”
She hopes to film future projects in Japan, among other locations. Rusnak wants women or femme-centered people to feel comfortable in the ski world to ask questions and take people up on their offers to teach them or take them out. She wants to reassure those looking to come into a new sport that no one starts off knowing everything.
Rusnak works at a Skimo Co. in Cottonwood Heights in the winter and takes her own advice by taking coworkers up on their offers to take her touring and teach her new skills or show her a new zone.
“All of these adventures that I’ve ended up on happened just because I said I’d do it or give it a try or pay the entry fee to compete in a competition or fill out the form to get a visa for New Zealand. If you follow things to their natural end, sometimes you end up in really cool places. You don’t know where it’s going to take you unless you try the things that come up in front of you.”
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