Zoya Lynch by Robin ONeill

What's a Zoya?

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ArticlesKootenays
You've maybe heard the word come up in lift lines, in newspapers, photographs, videos, in conversation on skin tracks, at meals and yoga sessions in backcountry lodges, or even while working deep in the BC bush – so what is a Zoya?
 
A) A 22-year-old female professional skier based out of Revelstoke, BC.
B) A burgeoning photographer and videographer located anywhere in Western Canada at a given moment.
C) An ex-Olympic hopeful who played a key role in advocating that women’s ski jumping one day become an Olympic sport (pssst, it has!).
D) A full circle bush woman laying out forestry blocks in British Columbia’s wilds and then personally reforesting them tree by tree.
E) All of the Above.
 
  • Lead image credit Robin O'neill
     

If you answered E), you probably already missed some stuff in the time it took you to answer. The above list is only a rough sketch of Zoya Lynch’s repertoire of activities, interests, causes, jobs, arts and crafts. The hyper-motivated Roxy-sponsored athlete is an ever-evolving adventurer and creative, seemingly without boundaries. I could sit here exhaustively writing about all the other things she does, but it’s probably more interesting if she tells you a bit more about it. I had a chance to catch up with her recently:

  • Zoya Lynch by Garrett Grove

MC: So, how’s your summer in the bush going?

ZL: Treeplanting season was intense. I basically traded in my ski boots for work boots and spent the next two months slamming my shovel into the ground! Now I'm working as a forest tech. I basically walk around in remote forests all day and look at trees. I also pick berries, drink out of mountain streams, and occasionally fight off grizzly bears. I’ve been working in some pretty cool spots in the Bugaboos, around Kootenay National Park, and right below Mt Sir Sandford. Some days can be tough, like when you get heat stroke or get attacked by mosquitoes. It's important to bring a really awesome lunch. 

MC: How does your summer play into your winter?

ZL: I'm working a lot this summer, saving up for fall surf trips, a new camera, paying off my mt. bike, and just generally filling up my piggy bank before I take the winter off to focus on skiing and photography. 

  • Zoya Lynch by Amy Flexman

MC: You have some awfully unique initials, what’s the story behind your name/heritage?

ZL: My full name is Zoya Kiloran Lynch. Zoya is Russian, I am not. My parents just thought it was a rad name. Ironically, having a weird name gets you lots of nicknames. I also answer to Zoya Sauce, Zee, Zoo, Zoyster, Zohawk, Zoyoga, Robo Girl, Space Bunny, Zoodle Bug, the list goes on forever.

  • Zoya Lynch by Dave Best

MC: You’re part of a pretty big family by today’s standards – 4 kids, giving you 3 siblings. Has your family background influenced you to be doing all the things you’re doing?

ZL: My parents showed us the simple happiness that comes from  spending time in the mountains with friends. Even though I was the youngest, I never got left behind! My siblings used to load me onto the chairlift and show me how to do spread eagles off the moguls. Nowadays my sister Izzy is one of my main ski partners. She's a fast charging, aggressive, hucking machine. My brother Denny is a pow-slaying bearded vegan activist. He can seriously layout the biggest backflips in the West Kootenays, and he's always willing to break trail for his sisters. Lucy is more of a finesse skier who brings some genuine hipster spirit into the mountains. My Dad is a mountain man who only skis at his backcountry lodge. My mom skis harder than all of us combined, she lives in Whistler and shreds Hawaii 5-0 on a daily basis. My family is the best. 

MC: You grew up ski jumping, which isn’t your average weekend pastime, and then spent a big part of your teenage years pushing the Olympics to let you and other female athletes compete. How did that all come together and when did you decide to become a freeskier instead?

ZL: Ski Jumping was a cool way to grow up. I used to head up to COP (Canada Olympic Parc in Calgary) after school and hit the jumps until supper time. When I was in high school it started to get more serious, and I became a full-time athlete and competitor. Lobbying to get women's ski jumping into the Olympics was exhausting and defeating. We protested, wrote letters to the humans rights commission, and attempted to sue the IOC. Eventually I got fed up and bought a pair of powder skis. I've never looked back. 

MC: I’ve known you since you were 18, doing your first senior big mountain comps, and even from that age you were light years more mature than a lot of people I know in their thirties. Did that come from your competitive background or somewhere else?

ZL: I blame 90’s sit-coms, I was addicted to watching friends at like age 5. 

MC: Let’s take a second to look at some of the other stuff you do: mountain bike, sport climb, work with non-profits, and you were trained as a yogi in Nicaragua. I’m sure I’m missing something else in there, feel free to point anything out, but how do you fit it all in and keep motivated? What’s inspiring this all? Is there one thing that’s more important than the others?

ZL: I just really like being busy! I grew up in the city so I am still awestruck by the amount of cool things you can do in the mountains. I wish there were twice as many hours in a day. It can be hard to balance everything. Right now I am really stoked on biking. 

  • Zoya Lynch by Kerri Knapp

MC: You took some time a few years ago to train as a documentary filmmaker, and nowadays are freelancing as a videographer and photographer. How’s that going?

ZL: Working with my camera makes me really happy, I feel super lucky to get paid to take pictures and make films. My first paid job was for Girls Day Out, my friend Leah Evans’ ski camps. Since then things have taken off in a big way. I've been getting all sorts of unique opportunities, I even did some filming work for Animal Planet this past winter! 

  • Zoya Lynch by William Eaton

MC: You’ve chosen Revelstoke as your home base, but someone in your position is called upon to move all around throughout the year. What makes Revelstoke the place you love to come back to?

ZL: The people are awesome. Its' like this little mountain hub full of strong athletes, talented artists, yogis, and creative minds. I feel super supported by the community in Revy. Plus the cafés rule, the mountains are amazing, it never stops snowing, the climbing, the biking, the lakes, its just the best place in the world! 

MC: You spent some time shooting with Sherpas Cinema this past season. That sounds pretty huge, how was that for you?

ZL: It was really fun! I was hanging out in Whistler doing some skiing on the Duffey and Mossop invited me to come play with the crew. It was an open invitation to anyone and everyone so I got to spend a few days skiing with a mega posse of old friends. Dropping into the waterfall cliff band with 25 of my best friends was the craziest thing ever. It was really cool to see the whole Sherpas film production too. 

  • Zoya Lynch by Colin Smith

MC: You seem to split the rest of your winter between working with photographers and ski touring a ton on your own terms, how is that all balancing out?

ZL: It can be hard to balance everything. Last winter I kind of lost the obsession with shooting and getting photos published. I started to go stir crazy waiting for phone calls and opportunities. So I got the lightest ski set-up possible and spent almost everyday out ski touring in a new place. I went to some really amazing zones and started to look at the mountains differently. I also spent a lot of time at my cabin, Amiskwi Lodge, skiing lines that I never even knew existed. 

  • Zoya Lynch by Isaac Kamink

MC: I have to bring up that your boyfriend Issac Kamink is one of my local heroes and one of the more accomplished ski-mountaineers in the Rogers/Golden/Rockies zone. Who is this guy and how is he influencing your skiing?

ZL: I started skiing with Isaac two winters ago. He's an extremely talented skier and has quietly bagged more peaks and skied more lines that anyone I've ever met. His humble attitude is super refreshing after spending so much time in the ski scene the past bunch of years. Isaac has taught me a lot about moving mindfully through the mountains. Slow down, drink lots of tea, and pay attention to whats happening. His mountain sense is so acute, whether we're making powder 8's in a meadow or bootpacking up a 2000ft couloir, every day is epic. Plus he is a chef so he always has killer snacks, fresh bread, and homemade beer at the end of the day. 

MC: So where do you see this all going? Do you have a goal or any specific achievement that you’re working towards?

ZL: My goal is to be happy and keep learning about myself and this life! I want to explore the mountains on my skis and seriously pursue photography.    

MC: Final word goes to you, any political statements you want to make or people you want to thank, have at ’er!

ZL: Thanks to my awesome family and friends! Thanks to my sponsors ROXY, Prior Skis, Amiskwi Lodge, Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Final words: Don't idle your car and always be a vegetarian! 

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