Melissa Presslaberis a fully qualified ski guide and coach. But she’s decided to put her coaching job on hold for a while, and instead dedicate all her time to backcountry skiing. Her passion is skiing big lines on the most challenging faces – the steeper the better. It’s no wonder she has earned such a good reputation in the Austrian freeride scene (among both men and women alike) and beyond. She’s known for her steep lines but also for her Alpine projects in winter and summer. She’s taken her skis to Peru, Mongolia, Morocco or India; and biked over the steep mountain passes of the Alps. As long as she’s in the mountains she’s happy: “I love being in the mountains, all year round if I can. I go at my own speed. It’s not about recognition or attention. For me, it’s about the challenge, and the amazing experiences I have – either shared or on my own.” If you want to watch Mel riding big faces, she’s in the latest Shades of Winter Production, “Pure”. Mel’s solo descent of the north face of the Fletschhorn is a definite highlight of the film. Despite all the risks she takes she still says: “My aim, once I’ve gotten over the odd serious injury or two, is to be able to spend many more years in the mountains together with my friends.”

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Images: Simon Rainer


Sandra Lahnsteiner lives and breathes skiing. These days, she’s not only a professional freerider, she’s also a successful film producer. Her ski racing career began in the Austrian youth squad. In 1999, she moved to Salzburg to study a degree in Sport and swapped her race skis for fat freeride skis. It was not long until she made an appearance in numerous freeride films. In 2010 she produced her own film, “As We Are” about women freeriders. Spurred on by the film’s success, she decided to pursue the concept of women in the freeride scene and giving them their own platform. She produced a second and third film, both of which proved popular on the big screen. But it wasn’t until her “Shades of Winter” film that she garnered international acclaim. This “All-Female-Movie” won several film festival prizes and piqued international interest in the sport. Sandra Lahnsteiner not only featured in the film but also produced it, marketed it, arranged sponsorship deals and looked after distribution – not bad!

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