This Monday, Bravo debuted its newest reality TV offering, “Après Ski.” But, rather than a new set of pampered housewives, it follows concierges from Gibbons Life, a Whistler-based luxury travel company, as they take clients on five-star adventures, like a helicopter tour to a local hot spring. The show doesn’t pack much in the way of surprises—think contrived drama and a comically uptight boss—except that one of the Gibbons’ concierges is celebrated big-mountain skier Lynsey Dyer.
Dyer, a 32-year-old skier from Jackson, Wyoming, exploded onto the scene when she won the Freeski World Tour overall title in 2005. She's since been crowned Powder’s 2011 Female Skier of the Year and scored the lead segment of ski flick Like There’s No Tomorrow, the first time a woman had opened a Warren Miller film. Off the slopes, she’s established herself as an outspoken advocate for women on the mountain, founding SheJumps, a nonprofit that encourages girls and young women to participate in outdoor sports, and producing the 2014 ski film Pretty Faces, which featured a hard-charging, all-female cast and shook up the male-dominated industry.
So what’s she doing starring in a schlocky reality television show? Dyer’s ski industry peers are asking. Even the trailer is a cringe-worthy: In it, the concierges bungee jump naked and are tasked with giving a client’s guinea pig a coconut oil massage.
A recent article in Powder, titled “Lynsey Dyer, what have you done?!”, derided Dyer’s character on the show: “This is not the badass ski chick we fell in love with in the big mountains—this is Snookie in ski boots.” Teton Gravity Research (TGR) summed up the series as “Bravo's latest attempt to fill screen time with trivial drama and inconsequential bickering between privileged adults.”
“I was a bit surprised to see Lynsey held a starring role,” says Henrik Lampert, editor-in-chief at Freeskier, where Dyer broke ground as the first woman to grace the magazine’s cover in 2008. “She comes to mind as a lady who'd rather spend her time chasing the best skiing in the world than commit time to shooting a program like this.”
But this may not be the cut-and-dry case of selling out that it appears to the core ski crowd. Dyer was recruited by Gibbons Life for her “expertise” as a pro skier, according to a Bravo representative, and says she anticipated more skiing and less après when she signed on. “This was a total departure from what I'm used to,” Dyer says. “When I agreed to be on this show, I was told it was about the mountains, and I would have a chance to ski and take people skiing.”
Even though the show focuses more on drama within the concierge office than the mountains, Dyer says she saw potential in the opportunity to spread the gospel of skiing to a new viewership. Pretty Faces did well within the ski community—premiering before a sold-out crowd of 850 in ski-crazed Boulder, Colorado. But more than 2 million viewers, most of them women, tune in every week to “Vanderpump Rules,” the lead-in show (another “reality” offering) for “Après Ski.” “Bravo has a huge, primarily female, audience who may have never been exposed to the magic this sport has to offer,” Dyer says. “If I can infiltrate this type of media to inspire even a few more ladies away from the screens and mirrors and go outside...then I've done my service.”
Even insiders agree on that much.
“Whether or not she's reaching the right eyeballs—folks who are passionate about skiing and would consider supporting her sponsors with hard earned dollars—is sometimes trumped by the sheer number of eyeballs reached, period,” says Lampert.
For her part, Dyer says she’s trying to tune out the noise. She’s already moved on to her next projects: working on a new women-specific freeride ski and putting together a meditation camp.
“I try not to take life too seriously and the same goes for this,” Dyer says. “In any case I won’t be quitting my day job. Can we go skiing now?”