Interview & photos courtesy of Scott Markewitz (http://www.scottmarkewitz.com)
Who were your major influences growing up?
Well I have always loved skateboarding especially when I was younger. I was all about pros that had good style and made skating look easy so that’s what I would try to do when I went out. I would say that has always followed me in every sport I do. Once I started skiing in the terrain park with my snowboard friends I would go back to their houses and watch snowboard movies. I then found myself really stoked on dudes like the Forum 8 and guys killing it in the Whity films. I also looked up to some of the pros around Tahoe like Scotty Witlake and Blaze Rosenthal. I definitely sought to snowboarding for style influences. When I got picked up by Line and was starting to get more into the twin tip movement, I was totally influenced by guys like Eric Pollard and Skogan Sprang.
Do you think your background in racing/freestyle as a kid helped you get where you are today?
I do for sure. I think that all the drills and training I did throughout my childhood definitely helped my form. I think those types of backgrounds really show through when you are watching people just make turns down groomers. I also did learn a lot about popping and air awareness while skiing moguls and aerials.
When you started skiing, freeskiing was nowhere near what it is today. Do you think you still would have spent time racing if skiing was like it is today? With all the progression in skiing and ski technology today, is it still important for kids to learn the fundamentals by ski racing?
I think I would have gravitated towards freeskiing much faster if I were to be a kid growing up skiing these days, but it wasn’t very long before I was bored of racing as a kid and wanted to jump off everything I could see. If I have kids I will definitely start them out racing first. I think having the basic training as a child can go further than people think.
The skis you started out skiing pow on look a lot different from what people are riding today… What are your feelings on some of the new technology for pow skis?
Well I have been fortunate enough to be on some pretty cutting edge skis every season since I was about 14. So on one hand I think I am lucky in the sense that I have been able to stay in front of the trends and progress my skiing with the evolution of the technology. On the other hand I feel like it is changing some of the more traditional things that I have always loved about the sport. I see kids that are trying to ski on fat reversed camber skis that can hardly make a turn on a parabolic. They swing their hips out and slide. I just see a lot of people making bad habits because they want the newest coolest skis.
You grew up skiing Tahoe and have traveled all over the world. Why is Utah now your home?
When I originally moved to Utah I only planned to stay for three months but I skied way more powder days than I had ever skied in a season in Tahoe. Plus it makes more sense for shooting because the snow in the backcountry usually stays pretty good during the winter months and the sun always tends to come out after a storm cycle. I love Squaw and I love the lake in the summer but I also get a little tired of living in a small resort community. I think SLC is the best of both worlds, a city with big mountains.
Favorite resort in Utah?
I love both Alta and Snowbird for different reasons.
Resort pow or backcountry? Skinning or slednecking?
I love skiing pow days at the resort. There really is nothing like lapping runs with your friends. It is the best way to train and get in shape for filming. The backcountry is so amazing and being out there with a small crew is really special. Sled skiing is like the poor mans heli skiing and I love that too. It is also a very productive way to film. I guess I just love it all.
Being a pro skier, does skiing ever feel like more work than fun?
It has before but it is rare. I really love what I do and every season I just feel more and more lucky to have the chance to do it. When I was younger I don’t think I was as grateful. Filming and shooting is not all fun though. If you have a good crew it really helps the motivation for getting through the hard stuff; like not being able to ski for three weeks and then having to throw down because you traveled to the other end of the globe to sit in a storm and then it goes blue.
Is filming/shooting fun for you or more of a hassle?
I enjoy getting good shots and that is the pay off. I love jumping off cliffs into pow. I would do it all day regardless. The hard part that I could do without is standing on top of your line or cliff waiting for cameras or light and freaking yourself out by over analyzing things. That’s when the heart rate really starts to get jacked up.
Do you find yourself taking more risks when there’s a camera pointed at you?
Yes and no. There are days I’m not feeling it as much as others when we’re filming, but those are usually the days that I mentioned earlier and you just have to step up to the plate. I do a lot of stuff just skiing at the resort that I look back on and say, “I should definitely not have done that because it could have gone really bad.” Especially early season when all you want to do is charge.
Tell us about your experiences shooting with Scott.
I love working with him because he is so professional. He is an amazing photographer and he always seems to get the shot. One of the first times I went out with him I got two magazine shots published, an ad, a poster and multiple web shots. Talk about a productive day. I would like to say to other skiers that if Scott asks you to go out with him, do your best to be there.
You’ve been known to stomp some big switch pow landings. Any good tips on landing backwards in pow?
Try to land with your shoulders, hips, knees and feet as square as possible. Just work your way up. Look for trannies too.
Red Bull Cold Rush. photo: Jeff Schmuck
How did this past season go for you?
I am never happy because I always want better, but I had an awesome time and got to ski in some amazing places.
Any goals for next season?
Go bigger and do bigger ticks in bigger terrain. I also would like to do more comps like Cold Rush. That was super fun.
With the season wrapping up soon, what are your plans for the summer? How do you keep yourself sane when there is no snow?
I’m heading down to South American Snow Sessions and ski pow in Argentina.
South American Snow Sessions. photo: Ashley Barker