Interview by Mikko Hietala
In its rather short run time in the Event of All Things, freeskiing has already seen its fair share of “types” – there’s the junior high thug ball, the sleazy backwoods-catering powder hound, the van-dwelling rail magician, the elusive foreigner who surfaces to wow us every other year and of course that one dude with the creepy moustache. Then there’s Logan Imlach. This 24-year-old Alaskan native, currently residing in Oregon, was lifted to the top of the shared consciousness of the freeskiing world in the beginning of 2010 after being chosen as the winner of Level 1 Productions’ Superunkown. Does he fit any certain type, mold or trope, or is he one of the few unique individuals in our sport that offer a more interesting and personal look at both life and skiing than just rehearsing their rideaways? Read on to find out. - Mikko Hietala
As a skier hailing from Alaska, home of the great steeps, you are mostly known for innovative urban skiing. What drove you to become creative in that certain field of skiing?
Well to be honest I suppose I owe my start in urban skiing to Alaskan weather. When we sort of transitioned from riding Alyeska every day into trying to film parts, the weather was shit and we didn't want to just sit around on our asses so we went and hit handrails. As far as the creativity, I owe a lot to Matt Wild and Travis Reid, two snowboarders that I grew up riding with, for constantly harping on me about things I should do to look less like a skier and more like a snowboarder. After that started I pretty much just ran with it, it's pretty cool in our sport that you have the freedom to look at any urban area as a blank canvas, and hit it however you want to.
I have no idea what’s going on in this one, but I bet it’s something good. Photo by Matt Wild
You've also stated that you've dabbled with snowboarding yourself at one time, as it was considered the cool thing to do instead of skiing. How much do you feel the perceived coolness of a sport affects the styles and attitudes of riders?
Yeah I snowboarded for a majority of my childhood. And of course, if something is cooler, someone is always sub consciously trying to mimic it. Snowboarding copies skateboarding and we copy snowboarding, because each one is progressively "cooler". I mean of course that's a very generalized statement, because there are a lot of people who just don't give a shit and do their own thing, but that fraction of our population is pretty small.
Many amateur and professional skiers are sort of trapped in the skiing lifestyle, trying to manage expressing their love for skiing while still getting some bang for their buck and maintaining the ability to actually live. How difficult is it to maintain a healthy career in engineering as a known, professional skier?
Well, if you want to get technical, my profession is engineering and skiing is a hobby. A very serious hobby (laughs). I feel that the title of "professional" in our sport is so skewed these days, to the point that if someone is getting gear on a flow program all of a sudden they're a pro. Want to know how much money I made off of skiing last year? Not enough to pay one month's rent and utilities. So in my shoes, working is a necessity, and I've just gotten use to that. It really makes me appreciate the time I get to go skiing and go on trips just that much more. So in a sense yeah it would be sweet to just ski every day, but there's a solid chance I could get burnt out on it, like I did with hockey. I guess the responsibilities of the real world really just keep my skiing exactly what it should be: an escape.
So as a level headed and hardworking person, what would be your advice to a young athlete striving for pro status as a skier?
Well, I'm never going to be the guy that shits on someone’s dreams. If you have the talent and want to become a pro skier, then by all means, give it your all. But at the same time I try to preach preparation, because every pro skier has an end to their career, and that's what you need to be prepared for. So whether you have a college degree or work in a trade, just be ready, because by the time a majority of professionals are fading out they have families and responsibilities that require steady income.
You are one of the winners of the often controversial Level 1 Superunknown contest. How did your win affect your skiing opportunities, consequences and style?
Well, it was really the spark that re-lit any sort of "career" that I may have had in skiing, so without it I'm pretty sure I would have never had any more serious opportunities to get on with any other film crews. As far as consequences, it really didn't do a ton to me except put more on my plate, but that's fine because I get bored pretty easily. As far as style, I would like to think that it’s stayed the same the whole time. Maybe I ski with a little more confidence now because it's been verified that people actually like to watch me (laughs).
Speaking about being watched and talked about, now that you're in a veritable spotlight in the skiing world, would you say you enjoy skiing more with the cameras on or off?
There’s always time for both. I love filming, it's a true embodiment of the saying "the beauty is in the struggle", but at the same time it's incredibly nice to just go spin some laps with my friends.
Getting it done, going hard on the paint, slaying the fence etc. Photo by Freedle Coty
If you hadn't entered Superunknown, where would you see yourself now in skiing?
Probably not hitting urban anymore and doing a lot of resort riding and touring. Before I submitted that video we had already kind of discussed that "My Alaska" was going to be our final local movie, and that maybe we'd put together some edits but we were pretty well done taking filming seriously. I was going to become a recreational skier, probably start paying retail for all my gear, and I was completely cool with that. So it's pretty crazy thinking about what would be going on now if Josh, Kyle, and Freedle would have leaned another direction when picking a winner, and I’m so grateful that they did pick me, because the experiences I've had over the past two seasons have been unbelievable.
You've also gained some kudos for writing witty articles for SBC Skier. How did your journalistic approach to skiing come to be?
(Laughs) It's always funny thinking about this English 111 teacher telling me my freshman year in college that I should change from an Engineering major to a Journalism major. I guess it’s because I really didn't enjoy writing through my schooling career, but writing about skiing is different because I'm writing about something I love. But also because I can cuss if I want to (shit, balls, etc.).
There are dogs, and there are dogs - and then there's Winston, your young, cute-as-hell Welsh Corgi. Does he miss you when you're off to your skiing exploits, and have you yet taken him with you on your snowy adventures?
(Laughs) I'm sure that I miss him more than he misses me. We actually read something somewhere that dog's have a skewed sense of time, so when you leave, they obviously know that you're gone but they don't fully comprehend how long you've been gone for. That makes me rest a little easier because I hate leaving him (laughs).
As a sport grows, both outside and inside influence grow radiantly and we begin to see different factions spreading their wings. What would you see as the next necessary step in skiing's evolution?
Acceptance. Everyone is all fired up about the Olympics, but at some point we're all going to need to realize that it's happening. There isn't a god damn thing anyone can do to stop it, so we might as well accept it for what it is, and all go about our business. People are going to ski in contests anyways, so why not give them a shot to represent their countries? I don't ski in contests, and they can't make hitting handrails illegal, so I've accepted it and try not to be too emotionally invested in it anymore.
So you could say that keeping some distance from the inner workings and politics of something you love might help one concentrate on the important things?
I wouldn't really take it that far, I mean the "important things" are pretty varied from skier to skier, and right now one of the paths in skiing throws those things directly into the path of the politics within skiing. But for others, that’s spot on, steering clear of all of the bullshit that is associated with governing bodies and rules is a nice way to keep focused on what's at hand.
Where do you see skiing heading towards at the moment, beyond the expletives of "stoke", "steeze" and "tall tees"?
I think skiing is finally starting to find its sense of self. There are so many different directions that it's going in so rapidly, and all at the same time that currently it's a little chaotic. Within this chaos, of course everyone’s first reaction is to reject change and get all pissy, but sooner or later everyone is going to realize: "Hey, I can wear tight pants and smoke cigarettes, try to make millions of dollars and go to the Olympics, or I can eat granola and tour everywhere. All on skis." And once everything settles down into their niches and realizes that there is something beautiful to be seen in all this diversity, we will be in a very good place.
Skiing takes its toll on the best of us, no matter one's athletic condition and we're not getting any younger. Is there anything particular that you know you want to accomplish for yourself in skiing no matter what?
I want to film a full part with Level 1 before I throw in the towel. I've got my fingers crossed this season, as I do have some trips planned, but we'll see how it goes. I definitely want to go heli-skiing again this year as well, that experience is just completely fucking unbelievable.
Photo by Matt Wild
Finally, out of a 100 NS members, how many do you think will just look at the pictures in this article and ignore, you know, the actual interview?
50 out of 100 will just look at the pictures, 40 out of 100 will scroll straight for the comments, and the remaining 10 will actually read it.
You can watch Logan shred in Level 1 Productions’ films Eye Trip and After Dark.
Logan would like to thank his sponsors Moment Skis and Outerwear, Kombi, Level 1, Capix, Spy, Joystick, Marker Bindings, Full Tilt Boots, Outdoor Technology and Purplejumpsuit Apparel for their continuing support.