Weekend Warm-Up: High-Level Skiers Balance Adventure and Family in ‘The Hagens’

Parenthood can be a bit of a dilemma. You want to provide your kids with a rich life, full of the things that make you, you. On the other hand, raising children often requires you to set those things aside, while you attend to all the little details that increase the grey in your hair and the wrinkles around your eyes.

Now imagine all that, but you’re a world-class skiing couple to boot.

That’s the conflict at the heart of The Hagens, a film by Arc’teryx. It follows Chamonix-based skiers Stian Hagen and Andrea Hagen as they navigate hanging on to their identity as adventure sports athletes while also raising two happy, healthy, well-balanced children. Stian and Andrea make it look easy, but as many know, it’s anything but.

A balanced life

“We’re not aiming for high achievers here. You just want your kids to be able to handle these emotions. Learn the feeling of disappointment from competitions and the extreme happiness if they do really, really well,” Andrea shares in the first few minutes of the film.

It’s no surprise to learn that the Hagen kids love gnarly pastimes. Aksel Hagen surfs, skis, and does perfect backflips on his trampoline, while younger sister Camilla’s “two favorite sports are definitely skiing and skating. And climbing.”

kid downhill skiing

Camilla Hagen at a ski competition. Photo: Screenshot


“It’s something that I never even thought about,” Stian explains, in reference to having children. “But when it was happening, I just kind of went with it and thought it was super exciting.”

That’s an admirable approach, as we, unfortunately, all know people who harbor a bit of — let’s charitably call it annoyance — when they find their lives changed in the face of parenthood. Doubtless, that tendency is even harder to combat when the life you put on hold favors the young, the limber, and the adrenaline-fueled. But the Hagens handle it with aplomb, learning that the secret is leaning into, rather than away from, the duties and responsibilities of child-rearing.

two kids yelling

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Photo: Screenshot


The film’s visuals swap back and forth between cozy domestic scenes and the stunningly rugged mountains that ring Chamonix. And having powered through the rough days of early childhood (Camilla is nine and Aksel 12), the Hagens can now adventure together as a family unit. That means backcountry touring, powder days at downhill resorts, and group training sessions in the home gym.

a family in a home gym

Family time. Photo: Screenshot

Struggles and compromises

But there’s emotional honesty, too, equally refreshing to those of us who observe our fellow parents expressing nothing but unadulterated joy about their changed lives. This is a nuanced thing and something the film doesn’t shy away from.

“I struggled, particularly at the start. I guess just the realization of my life changing and not skiing at that same capacity,” Andrea notes. “It took me some time to learn and realize and accept that my life was going to change. But once I did that, it was good. But that took some time.”

a photo of a man and a woman with their arms around each other

The early days. Photo: Screenshot


There’s also the idea of risk assessment and management, which takes on an extra layer when you have babies at home.

“I understood that during my career, [I had] a lot of close calls,” Andrea says over footage of her being swept up in a massive avalanche. “As much as I worked on getting over something like that, you’ve still got it in the back of your mind.”

a skier caught up in an avalanche.

A close call for Andrea. Photo: Screenshot


“There’s a lesson to be learned. Maybe we were pushing it too much,” she finishes.

You’ll have to watch the film to discover how the Hagens ultimately came to grips with all these opposing concepts. And you won’t regret it. At only 20 minutes, the short packs in sweeping vistas, sweet family interactions, Andrea and Stian’s undeniably cute children, and a nuanced discussion of what it means to be both a parent and a high-performing athlete.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).