World Champion snowboarder and two time Winter Olympian Spencer O’Brien is a legend, and not just for her five Aspen X Games medals (one gold, one silver, three bronze), nor because she was the first woman to successfully land a Backside 900 trick in X Games competition.

But because she accomplished all of this while struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and because she used her voice to stand up for female snowboarders let down by FIS and the IOC during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Who can forget her powerful “we deserve better” open letter? Read it here. 

O’Brien is also of Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw Indigenous decent, born in Alert Bay, British Columbia in Canada.

It is her journey to rediscovering her First Nations identity that is captured in the film Precious Leader Woman, written by O’Briena and fellow First Nations writer Elle Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and directed by Australian Cassie de Colling from Melbourne.

This powerful film that tells O’Brien’s Indigenous story under the backdrop of her snowboard career has won numerous awards including three Leo Awards, the Audience Award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, and has been selected for several other festivals around the world, including the Indigenous-led Māoriland Film Festival.

The Australian premiere will screen on Monday March 27 at 6.30pm at the LIDO in Hawthorn as part of the Birrarangga Film Festival – a celebration of Indigenous films from around the world.

 

De Colling started building connections with Indigenous communities when she won a National Geographic scholarship 10 years ago for a snowboarding film shot in Kashmir.

She has worked with world-renowned Indigenous artist Regina Pilawuk Wilson for the last eight years to co-direct Made it With my Hands – Deme Ngayi Nimbi, which will air on SBS TV this month in Australia.

Last autumn, De Colling also launched her short surf film Momento, shot on location along various Victoria beaches.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.