Tom Wallisch doesn't need a big introduction. He's one of the best freeskiers currently and won this season among other things the Winter X-Games in Aspen, two Dew Tour Stopps and the Overall ranking plus the War of Rails Contest. We met the friendly guy from the east coast during the X-Games Europe in Tignes and asked him questions about contests, judges, 4bi9, FIS and more.
fs.net: Hi Tom. First of all, how did the slopestyle Competition go today?
Tom: It went so good, it was beautiful weather here, really fun course, amazing crowd and everybody just skied superwell. It was a really fun competition today with three runs and the finals - it leaves you a lot of opportunity to just get out and land a full good run ... so yeah, a lot of fun!
fs.net: How disappointed are you that you didn't place first?
Tom: Not disappointed at all. I'm so happy with second, just to be on the podium, to be up there with those guys is amazing,. It's been a really really good year so another silver medal is amazing. Bobby was skiing so well today. It's hard to beat somebody that's just on fire like that and he was really in the zone today, really really skiing well, so just excited to be up there with those guys and it was fun.
fs.net: Did you like the setup?
Tom: Yeah, I liked the setup a lot. The rails were a little short and the jumps were maybe like smaller for what we're used to but everything was so smooth and easy to clear and just like flowed really well that it's probably one of the most fun courses I've gotten to ski this year just cause it's really low stress, it's easy to clear everything, get through the course and it's just like a fun park to shred, definitely a really fun course.
fs.net: Do you think that the current slopestyle courses need some major changes?
Tom: Aah not major changes. I just think that people need to start building more features. There's six features here - three rails, three jumps and that's good but there needs to be more. Just for big competitions like this where it's so hard for us to stand out for one another. It's so hard to judge when it's short but if you had four jumps and four rails possibly then there's way more features for you to choose. It makes the judging easier and to distinguish between who's really skiing well and who's not. So more features the better is what I keep saying.
fs.net: Are you satisfied with the current judging especially in view of people like Phil Casabon who concentrate more on style tricks than doing doubles?
Tom: I'm pretty happy with the judging. It's hard, it's such a hard job to do. It's to distinguish between technical tricks and style tricks is hard but in the end it is a competition and a huge part of that is technicality and difficulty and I think they do a good job of rewarding people like Phil who are doing the more style, innovative and creative tricks on rails for instance or on the jumps and they do a good job. It's a hard job to do and it's always gonna be subjective and kinda weird. You gonna always look back and say the judging could have been better but they only get a couple of seconds to judge it. So far I've been pretty happy with everything they been able to come up with.
fs.net: Would you like to see a street contest like the one for the snowboarder at the last Winter X Games in Aspen for the skiers too?
Tom: Of course, I would like to see the street contest, real snow for handrails and real snow for backcountry, everything. I think the ESPN people and the X-Games are kinda leaving it out, they're leaving out skiing in a lot of these events and there's a huge market there and a lot of kids that would love to watch that and I think that they are just not really giving skiing the respect and what it deserves. There are so many people who would love to do that contest and I think it will be a great show and they are just not ready for it yet, I guess.
fs.net: Are there any aims left you want to achieve since you nearly won every big contest?
Tom: (laughs) I just gonna try keep doing well and push forward to 2014. Hopefully go to Sochi and ski in the Olympics and other than that I'm just having fun doin what I'm doin and havin fun competing but just waiting for the day when I can just focus a full year toward a film segment and put together something pretty truly amazing and I just gonna keep skiing contest for another year and a half till the Olympics and then I go from there.
fs.net: Do you think the Olympics will change freeskiing or that it already has changed it?
Tom: I think it's definitely gonna affect it in some way. It's gonna encourage way more of these athletes to come out and hire a coach or one support or to work on just doubles or just triples and it's good and bad. It's good in a lot of ways - it's gonna bring the sport to a lot more people to watch it in the Olympics but at the same time it's also stressful because we need to keep the sport fun loving and awesome to watch instead of just competitive and aerialistic and soo just set on who can spin and flip the most, so I don't know, I think it's good and bad and it's definitely gonna be a fun working experience for the next year and a half.
fs.net: Do you think that this whole "Fuck FIS" thing is really appropriate and that the FIS is really that bad for freeskiing or extreme sports in general?
Tom: I haven't had a ton of experience with FIS but I do know a lot of people that are extremely against it and a lot of people are disappointed and I think that it's sad to see a organization for community ... disrespect or just try to control a sport so much and I'm very very fearful of such an organization and such a situation happen to freeskiing. The best thing about our sport has been and always will be just the freedom it's always had, since the beginning. I mean in the 60s and 70s when those guys were just doing freestyle contests and ski ballet and all this weird stuff and just having so much fun, getting drunk, just having a great time, like hitting the hill and enjoying the time on hill with your friends. It's like, that's what we still strive for even to this day in 2012 and hopefully there won't be any regulations or any controls or any course requirements or trick requirements. The day that that kinda stuff has a huge role in our sport is the day I'll quit competing for sure. (laughs)