I first met Zoya Lynch in the run-up to the 2010 Olympics. The torch relay was coming to Revy for a razzle-dazzle whistle-stop roadshow on Mackenzie Avenue. The then 18-year-old had just moved to town to freeski after leaving the Canadian national ski jumping team, where she was a vocal campaigner for inclusion of women’s jumping in the Olympics.
She started her advocacy campaign when she was only 11, gaining a flurry of media coverage for a protest she mounted at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. She participated in an unsuccessful legal challenge for the 2010 games before calling it a career and making the transition into competitive freeskiing. The IOC eventually gave in to demands and included women in the 2014 Sochi Olympics — too late for Lynch’s career.
Since 2010, Lynch has moved into competitive freeskiing and picked up a camera to document the journey. Lynch built up her shutter skills over the years and two seasons ago made the jump into full-time professional adventure photography, focusing on backcountry skiing and mountain biking. She’s shot top pros and worked with leading brands, media outlets and organizations like Patagonia, Powder Magazine, Backcountry Magazine, Freeskier Magazine, Arcteryx, The North Face, HelloBC and Destination BC, to name just a few.
Like with her ski jumping career, she’s blazing a path into a male-dominated field, bringing her unique creative perspective along for the ride. Lynch has developed a dreamy, dramatic and ethereal personal style that defines her captures. Her works are organic interpretations of the landscapes she shoots, deploying unconventional techniques like shooting with the lens hood off and aperture wide open to allow for playful light interplay, artistic lens flares and a rich saturated look. Is she bringing a ‘feminine’ sensibility to the backcountry photography scene? There’s some maneuvering around this question.
“I think naturally I am a very feminine person. A lot of people say I have a really feminine style which — I don’t know if I know what that means,” Lynch said. “That’s just how I see it and how it happens. It’s a pretty organic process. Women are sometimes more in touch with their emotions and they can bring out the emotions in sport photos.” Unlike ski jumping, there’s not a fight for female acceptance into the club. Lynch is an accomplished freeskier, a certified tail guide and holds an Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate. The tight local ski photography community has been welcoming. Together, they’ve thrived on the decade of limelight in which the Revelstoke adventure photography has basked. “There’s inspiration everywhere and it’s an incredibly supportive and creative community,” she said.
This article first appeared in the September print issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.