Whatsup Kirk! Let's get this interview rolling by digging deep. What are your skiing roots? When did you start skiing? Why did you like it so much? And what got you into the park?
Not too much, just working alot and trying to save up some money for next season! As for skiing roots go, I started skiing at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Ct when I was 4 years old. I then moved to Germany for a couple years and was fortunate enough to have some of my most developmental years of skiing, trying to keep up with my two older brothers in the Austrian Alps. As for park goes, I didn't start skiing park until I was 12 years old. There was only so much to do skiing at a small hill like Ski Sundown, so I started to branch out a little. I started going to Carinthia Parks at Mount Snow every weekend in high school with two good friends of mine Chris Frulla and Connor Clayton, and then was fortunate enough to be able to attend Mount Snow Academy during the winter time during my Junior and Senior year of High school. Ever since I started skiing park I fell in love with it. It wasn't like any other sport I was doing at the time. I had always played soccer and lacrosse and various other team sports growing up, but skiing was different. I could go out on my own and not have to depend on anyone else. No one telling you what to do, but more importantly not having to worry about other individuals bringing your performance down, or vise versa, bringing anyone else's performance down. Every success and every failure was your own. You couldn't blame anyone else for not performing how you wanted to. However on the opposite side of the spectrum, any success was no ones success other than your own. The lack of terrain available to me was one of the main reasons why I got into Park. I just thought that skiing on regular groomers was starting to get really boring really quickly. I also had a couple good friends help influence me toward park skiing.
Photo: Chip Proulx
Kirk, interesting point you make with the independence that skiing entails for each of us. I ask myself the question is skiing actually a sport? Or is it an artform? Team sports have a set of rules and a scoring system. Skiing only has this within the realm of competition. So what is skiing outside of competition then? Is it a sport? I think of it more from the artists' perspective. The artist's job is to bring to life some sort of dormant expression within themselves and I think this statement holds true for park skiing as well. The best park skiers in our community have this ability to make each of us view skiing in a new manner. They bring a new perspective to skiing with innovation in their own style. They leave their own signature mark on the sport. Can you call it a sport with this perspective in mind? I'm not sure. But I agree with you. Skiing attracts people who value independence and self-expression, which I would argue are the same traits of an artist.
What were your early years like with park skiing? Who were you looking up to at the time? What movies/edits where you watching? And what tricks were you trying to learn?
Very well put about skiing being a form of art! I couldn't agree more. Especially once you start to get out of the park and into the streets or back country. street skiers and backcountry skiers have the ability to create a feature to their exact pleasing. This opens up a whole new level of creativity and self-expression.
When I was just getting into park skiing, there were a couple different people I was looking up to. Every kid had some sort of influence on the hill, and some off the hill. At the local Hill I was skiing at, Ski Sundown, there were a bunch of older kids I looked up to. Sean Mullins, Luke Hagearty, Ian Dugger, and Sam Kimmerle were definitely kids I looked up to alot on hill. Off the hill, I can definitely say I look up to Tom Wallisch. My early park years, were right around the same time that Tom Wallisch won Level 1's Superunknown film competition. That edit I would say definitely had the biggest influence on me. As for movies go, there is one movie that sticks out the most for me, and thats EYE Trip. It was a couple years down the road, but definitely one of the heaviest ski movies I have still seen to this day. Ahmet's segment specifically with his S rail transfer absolutely blew my mind. Growing up skiing at ski sundown, it was definitely a rail heavy mountain. So as for tricks, my early years of progression were definitely a lot of rail tricks. The first rail trick i ever learned was a front 270 out. Then, I built myself a backyard setup, where I learned how to do a blind 2, and then how to 270 on. To this day, a 270 on is still one of my favorite tricks. One of the first jump tricks I ever learned was a Screamin' Seamen, definitely influenced by Sean Mullins.
Photo: Chip Proulx
I think each of us can agree that we are influenced by the local skiers who kill it at our home mountains and by the big name skiers such as Tom. Everyone was amazed by Tom's superunknown. I hadn't seen skiing like that before. Complete game changer. What a cool year that was. Amazing how much Tom changed the sport with one video and his skiing career that followed. And to get back to the point of the artist, look at how the unique style and expression of Tom changed all of our perceptions of what was possible on skis. Innovators like Tom come along and show us a new approach creating growth and change.
I think the segment that influenced me the most was Dave Chricton in Level 1's movie "Forward." He threw one of the most beautiful sw 10 mutes I have seen to this day in that segment. It is so cool though to have people inspire us and then be able to use this inspiration to further our own skiing pursuits.
So it sounds like you were more into rails than jumps when you initially started park. I would assume this is because you are from the east coast. Would you mind sharing your perspective regarding how your geographical location shapes your traits as a skier? I know the east coast breeds some of the best rail skiers who then become great jump skiers too after moving out west. And could you tell us about your progression as a jump skier? What was the initial scary trick that you stomped off a jump?
Yeah no doubt! Geographical aspects have a huge impact on a skier. It's all what you have access to. Growing up on the east coast, you just don't have the huge mountains and copious amounts of snow that there are out west. Mountains on the east can't consistently have the quality, variety and size of jumps as mountains out west do. The Local Mountain I grew up at, Sundown, would have at least a jump or so up at some point in the season, but it was a pretty rail heavy mountain. My rail skiing progressed way faster than my jump skiing did, especially due to the fact that I would always be hitting my backyard setup, which has always just been pvc pipe rails. The first scary jump trick I ever did was a 900 at The Main event at Ski Sundown. They had this one weekend out of the year where one day it would be a pretty big snowboarder comp, then followed by a skier comp the next day. I had learned my first 720 that day, and then just decided to spin a little faster and did a 900! I was pretty hyped, but I wasn't the biggest fan of spinning that fast. From that point on, for some reason I got it in my head to start learning flips and rodeos, and misty's, and didn't rotate past 720 for 2 seasons after that. I was fortunate to be able to go up to Mount Snow in Southern Vermont most weekends starting my freshman year of highschool, which gave me the opportunity to start hitting more jumps. My junior and senior year of highschool, I was pretty lucky to attend Mount Snow Academy. This gave me even more of an opportunity to improve my jump game, and get out to Colorado for a week in the early season to train. Being able to go out west and hit such perfect jumps so early on in the season, you can progress pretty fast in a week's time. Unfortunately, my junior year, I broke my Collarbone twice, and my senior year I got a pretty bad concussion which put me out for majority of my season, which kind of held back my Jumping for sure, and definitely shook me up quite a bit. This past season however I was living out in Colorado for a couple months which helped progress my jump game way more than I ever have!
Photo: Lupe Hagearty
What has inspired you as of say this past year as a skier? What is motivating you? And what do you want to be doing with skiing over the next couple of years?
Lupe (luke) Hagearty, was a huge inspiration on me this season. I had always looked up to him since we had both grown up in the relatively same area and skied at the same two mountains. He blew up the past couple years, and I remember watching his Style Files webisode two seasons ago and being really impressed. I had always wanted to try and film more street, but never really had the opportunity to get out there with a motivated crew or another like minded, motivated individual. Last year, we sat down and talked and we both were on the same page about what we wanted to do for the upcoming season. I had always wanted to try and get out into the streets as much as possible and film a street segment. He bought a winch, I bought a generator and lights, and we got after it all season long. He showed me the ropes, and just all around set the bar for the season. He is one of the most motivated kids I know, and will put in the effort, no matter how much that requires to accomplish his end goal. I really liked that about him, and that definitely inspired me to put in the time needed to accomplish what I wanted to this season. On a further note of what my motivation behind skiing is right now, I have always dreamed of getting to have a segment in a ski movie. All of the level 1 films and old Stept movies were huge inspirations. Over the next couple of years, I want to continue to try and put out the best possible ski content I can, doing a lot of street while branching out into the backcountry more than I did this year, and hopefully skiing some real Big Mountain in the future! It's all kind of what opportunities you have to work with. I am in the works of figuring out what I am going to be putting all of my efforts toward next season, but bottom line I want to keep putting in the effort and see what comes from that!
Photo: Travis Towsley
Lupe is definitely a kid to admire. I met Lupe a couple years ago skiing with him at Beaver Creek. I sensed what you mentioned. He seemed so hungry and motivated to keep his skiing career moving forward, which I think all of us can respect. It sounds like you put in a lot of effort into this past season as well and worked hard to stack shots. Can we expect to see you in any flicks this fall?
Yeah he was definitely a good influence to be around this season! And yeah I am pretty stoked on how this season went. I have a couple of my best shots coming out in the Coterie movie "We Trust your Judgement" premiering at if3 this fall! I couldn't be more exited to be apart of such sick project with such a stacked crew of athletes.I am definitely going to be at If3 this fall. It will be my second year in attendance but my first year having any sort of footage on the big screen. Keep your eyes out for their movie because it is going to be pretty tight. As for the remainder of my shots from this season I plan on dropping a Solo Segment sometime late fall, and there will be an 860 Media Mini Movie dropping this fall as well.
Photo: Chip Proulx
Well, congratulations Kirk. That's a big deal to make it on the screen at IF3. I'm eager to watch both flicks that you will be making appearances in.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now? And do you have any long-term life goals?
Ten years from now I want to be financially stable. That is my biggest priority. I want to do everything I possibly can to do that through skiing. I have always wanted to film a ski segment with a big production company, and if that's ever gonna happen, it would have to be within the next ten years. I would love to look back 10 years from now and say thats what I did, not that's what i could have done, or that's what I didn't do. I would love to be based out of Colorado, and travel, ski pow, and still be filming as much as possible. It depends on a couple of different things however, and injuries are definitely a huge part of that. I have always wanted to make a ski movie or a documentary. Maybe sometime in the next ten years that opportunity will arise, but thats definitely on my list of things to do a little further down the road. My biggest long term life goal is to be as happy as possible, and to have a family someday, and to be able to provide for my kids what was provided for me.
Any advice for the next guy?
If I had any advise for the next guy, I would have to say stay motivated. Never loose track of your end goal. If you want something, you are the only one holding yourself back from achieving that. If you have a big enough desire to accomplish something, nothing will hold you back from accomplishing that. On that note I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, "never underestimate the power of a dream". Cheers!
Photo: Travis Towsley