You can ask twenty different guys or girls for their story on how they began skiing in the park and it's almost a guarantee that each one will be different. Each person has had their own experience that has flicked that switch in their mind and made them think, "hey, I wanna try that". It could have been an edit they came across online, someone they saw when going by the park, or just those little side jumps along the edges of the trail, but no matter what it was, it began their journey into the freeskiing community. I find that my story is fairly unique to myself, because it seems pretty hard to believe that it began the same way for any other skier out there. I didn't have the push from my older sibling to get me into freeskiing, and I didn't grow up in an area with a massive park right on my doorstep; my story began with my dad.
The first time I ever went skiing was probably around the time when I was in first or second grade. My parents took my older brother and me for the first time at the King Pine ski resort in East Madison, NH. A mountain so small that you could literally drive right passed it and never know you did. My younger sister was put in the daycare at the mountain while my brother and I took a quick lesson to learn the basics. It was later in that day, when I was skiing with my family again, that I saw my dad hit a small jump on the trail. It wasn't anything special, but it was that moment when the switch went off in my head. I just wanted to become good enough to go off a little jump like I had just seen my dad do. I never thought skiing would become such a big part of my life.
It was only a year later that I started skiing at Gunstock, in Gilford, NH, with two of my good friends. We basically stuck to the groomers and eventually saw those stupid little side jumps pop up on the trails. We thought we were awesome because we were able to hit jumps on skis. Soon enough we ventured into the actual park where we would eventually hit the real jumps. It was in that same few years that Gunstock put up an airbag and I started to throw backflips into it just for fun. We had also taken two big ski trips to North Conway where we skied at multiple mountains, including Cranmore, where I tried hitting the first rail.
My group of friends soon started skiing at Pats Peak in Henniker, NH. Another small mountain, but it was the only place I could afford a season pass and it was close to my school. This was also where I threw my first backflip on snow. Every one was pretty sketchy; some I slipped out of and others I managed to pull together. It was in the next year that I actually broke my back by over rotating and landed hard on my ass, giving me a compression fracture. After this incident, my parents told me if I wanted to continue to ski the park I'd have to go to a ski camp to help me figure out airtime. I chose to go a summer camp at Waterville, where I got some of the best coaching I could have afforded, using their tramp setup and brand new dry ramp. It was this camp that basically set me up for my next few years of skiing. Because of it, I was able to become more aggressive and try things I probably would not have otherwise.
Just a few hours after breaking my back at Pats Peak
Photo taken at the Phil's Hill Training Center
In this past year, I moved out to Salt Lake City for school with one of my buddies from my old ski crew. It was a pretty big dilemma for me since I had never been to this part of the country and didn't know what to expect. I finally let my passion for skiing take over and made the decision to come out west. We met a few other guys and girls out here who loved to ski as much as we did and quickly found a crew to ski Brighton with us. We aren't the best in the park, but its always a great day of skiing with the new crew and I wouldn't ask for a different one.
Even after all of this, I still don't think I was a part of the freeskiing community. I shared that love of skiing, but I really didn't have much of a connection with the rest of the skiers out there. I think my real introduction into the world of freeskiing just came in this past month. It happened when I submitted an article to Newschoolers, voicing my opinion on a matter in the park. It was because of this article that I was selected to join the Newschoolers Journalism Program. It was because of this article that I can now say I am a part of the freeskiing community.