Freelance Journalist Interview with Sophie Nicholson
Adventure is what drives today's freelance interviewee Sophie Nicholson, whether skiing, hiking, or rock and ice climbing. Currently living in Haute-Savoie in France and working as content editor for 13 ski resort websites, as well as co-directing outdoor industry agency Yodel Communications, Sophie also writes for publications including Trek & Mountain, Adventure Travel, Women's Adventure and Sportsister.
Inspired to head out into the great outdoors with Sophie? Before you grab your snow suit and note pad, learn more about her work in today's interview…
About your journalism
Tell us a bit about your work, what do you write about?
I am a very lucky girl. Not only do I live in the French Alps but I'm also a member of a rare breed of female adventure sports/travel journalists who specialise in writing about ski touring, freeride skiing, rock and ice climbing, hiking and alpinism, road biking and trail running – pretty much anything that involves being outdoors!
Where might we have seen your work?
I am extremely fortunate to travel with my job and over the past couple of winters I have participated in back country ski/adventure media trips to some amazing places including La Grave, Chamonix, Iceland, Oregon and Wyoming. I work with outdoor brands/tourist boards and adventure companies and write for a range of outdoor magazines and online publications such as Fall-Line Skiing and Snowboarding, Trek & Mountain, Adventum, Adventure Travel, Homeboy Ski , Much Better Adventures and many others. I particularly enjoy writing for female-specific outlets and am the Mountain Girl blogger for Sportsister in the UK and Women's Adventure in the US. I have a great relationship and work very closely with many leading outdoor brands including Arc'teryx, Faction Skis, Flylow, Haglofs and Maloja.
What kind of things are you still planning to do and write about?
I really like to travel to slightly off the beaten track destinations, so in the future I would love to do some ski touring features on places like the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway, Greenland, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, etc. I'm also quite taken by the concept of big mountain skiing in Alaska, powder skiing in Japan, hiking in South America, biking the Haute Route from the Alps to Nice, attending the Banff Mountain Writing Programme, and spending a year travelling around North America in a converted truck – I've clearly got lots to be getting on with!
About you and PRs
Where do you usually source ideas for articles and adventures?
It may sound cheesy but my work is my passion so it is extremely easy to source ideas for articles. I use social media a lot to keep up with what is new in the adventure sports and travel world and I take a lot of inspiration from friends who have visited interesting places or do exciting things – basically anything that makes me say "I want to do that!" Having said that, my hiking adventure to Nepal in 2010 had perhaps the strangest of beginnings as it didn't grow out of a peer recommendation or an inspiring photograph; it was entirely the result of a chance meeting with a Sherpa on a beach in the North of Scotland!
What information from PRs is most useful to you, and how do you prefer they get in touch?
The adventure sports world is a niche business so I would strongly advise PRs working in this area to work with journalists who can authentically communicate with the core audience without alienating newcomers. I am far from an expert in any of the sports that I participate in but I do have a reasonable level of knowledge. My passion for these activities allows me a fresh, honest and open approach, which I hope makes my articles and features accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
Whether you are a hardened climber or a newbie trail runner, wild places can be a source of great joy and inspiration and it is no exaggeration to suggest that starting a new sport at any age can change your life. I feel incredibly strongly about this and if I can help communicate this message, that is a pretty cool place to be.
I am more than happy to work with any PRs who are looking to access the niche outdoor sector and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
People often ask this – a practically impossible question to answer for the obvious reason that each area is so different and they all have their special quirks and merits. If I was really pushed though, I would have to say North America because of the pure positivity and enthusiasm that emanates from the outdoor community who I've come into contact with. I have a great deal of time for people who appreciate their surroundings, are proud of their environment, and want to share this with like-minded souls. I have many lasting friendships that have grown out of relatively brief encounters with a host of North American characters from places like Canmore, Fernie, Bend, and Jackson Hole. I guess the best trips are those where you make connections and I have a strong affinity with the positivity that meets me every time I visit an adventure town in North America.
Do you have any personal sporting heroes you look up to (apart from Jessica Ennis, because she's everywhere at the moment)?
The people that I look up to in the sporting world are those who demonstrate spirit and determination and look like they're having fun. Natural born talent is one thing, doing something positive with it is another. I have enormous respect for female skiers such as Lynsey Dyer – an inspirational big mountain skier who also started the SheJumps.org charity to inspire women to get involved with sports – and Canadian Sarah Burke – the pioneering freestyle skier who sadly died aged 29 following a training accident last year. Both are/were passionate communicators of the message that getting outside and doing 'stuff' will improve your life and it is these kind of people that I look up to, irrespective of whether they are 'famous' or not.
Are there any personal goals you are yet to accomplish (apart from climbing to the top of a snow-covered mountain, shouting "Drago!", because everyone's doing that)?
When it comes to my own sporting goals, I do like to challenge myself but I have been known to push too hard in the past. I am constantly seeking to find the right balance! Age and experience have shifted my attitude somewhat and I am now trying to adhere to a new approach – one which is less about grades and gradients and more focused on doing things that I can really enjoy whilst I'm doing them and not just after the event. Life's too short to constantly do things that you don't really enjoy, but it is imperative to be truthful and rational about the source of any fears you may be feeling at the time. You need to try and identify whether this fear is holding you back or keeping you safe and then hopefully you can choose the right option and enjoy what you're doing, whether that means going for it or backing off. It's all about the gut…
When you're not on top of a mountain, what things do you enjoy doing (apart from watching 'Cliffhanger', because I'm always doing that)?
When I'm not outside or writing, I enjoy the usual stuff like reading, photography, spending time with friends and family, and sharing a good bottle of red wine with my bloke. We’re both massive suckers for good coffee shops with homemade cakes and are quite happy to spend hours looking at maps. Sad I know….