interview by Jeff Schmuck
As the zoo of up-and-coming ams gets bigger and better every year, Nick and Alex Martini have burst onto the scene like escaped lions and have become a last name to remember. Nick wowed even the sturdiest of critics with his Superunknown entry a few months back, while Alex has been turning more heads than the Exorcism trilogy. This new brotherly pairing is unique from many of their predecessors who’ve followed eachother’s ski tracks, as Nick seems more focused on becoming a major threat on the competition circuit while Alex prefers to quietly make his mark in the backcountry. While observing the après scene (or lack there of) at Mt Hood for the West Coast Session last month, I spontaneously decided to interview the two of them, rudely waking the mellower Alex from an afternoon nap and finding the more rambunctious Nick wandering around Windells in basketball shorts and knee-high socks looking for something to do. They’re quite the pair…
How about we start off by giving everyone a little info on your background and where you came from.
Nick: Where would you say our origins are Alex?
Nick: Yeah, Boston area fo sure.
Where you guys living right now?
Alex: I’m in Boulder, Colorado.
Nick: And I’m finishing up high school in New Hampshire but have been doing a lot of skiing in the Colorado area this year as well.
Who do you each ski for?
Nick: Salomon skis, Sweet Protection helmets, Switch gloves, Crunk Energy Drink and Whaleback Mountain.
Alex: Just Amplid I guess (laughs).
Alex. photo: Ian Boll
How’s your season been so far?
Nick: It’s been good. The competition season went really well and then we’ve been getting a bunch of good filming done in the spring.
Alex: I’ve just been driving around skiing and doing handrails. I was really looking forward to skiing a lot of spring park but it’s been snowing the whole time.
Alex. photo: Ian Boll
Who did you guys film with this year?
Nick: Meatheads and Stept.
Alex: I pretty much just filmed myself, like magic (laughs). You can check it out at steptproductions.com and in the new movie, Road to Nowhere.
Nick: Yeah the Road to Nowhere trailer is dropping soon. People on Newschoolers should get their hand lotion ready because they’re going to love it.
Nick. photo: Matt Stauble
So you guys are starting to break out on the scene and making a name for yourselves reasonably well. How’s that feel?
Nick: It feels great. It’s been hard work but it’s starting to pay off. Turns out if you just keep skiing well and not worry so much about trying too hard good things will come. Who knew (laughs)?
You guys are a bit of a unique situation in the sense that there’s a couple of brother combos in skiing right now with the Pettits, and the Wells and the Olenicks and a lot of them have the same sponsors between the brothers (except for Callum who’s recently switched from K2 and Oakley to Armada and North Face), but you guys are on completely different programs. Do you think it makes it easier being on different sponsors?
Nick: It’s definitely nice. I think Alex and I are looking for different things from sponsors, different vibes and whatnot.
Nick: I’m not too sure because we’ve never actually run into that problem because we’ve never really been sponsored by the same people. But I do think it works out nicer that we’re on different companies because we get different gear and then we don’t look like twins (laughs).
But does it make it easier having different deals than say the two of you getting lumped into somewhat of a package and possibly getting less than you deserve?
Alex: I just think Amplid skis are way better (laughs).
Alex. photo: Ian Boll
Nick. photo: Matt Stauble
So with this season coming to a close, what are your plans for next year?
Alex: I’m going to go to Colorado for the fall and then go to Wyoming to hit up Jackson for some pow and then up to Canada again.
Nick: I’m going to Boulder next fall to get some school done and then take second semester off and just doing the whole competition thing in January and February. Then I’ll probably go road trippin with this fool for a bit to get some shots for our new movie, and then try to do a lot of filming with people during in the spring.
What are you going to do for school in Boulder?
Nick: I’m going to study business.
Do you think that it’s important as an up-and-coming skier to keep the education thing going as opposed to just taking a step back from it to focus solely on skiing?
Nick: Absolutely. A lot of people are ignoring the school factor but the reality is, if you blow out your knee or something, you gotta have a back-up plan. I think a lot of people are relying on skiing too much and then they unfortunately get screwed over by it in the end. I mean I love skiing and I’ll do it for as long as I can but I don’t think it’s going to be a lifetime pursuit.
Alex: You can go to school in the summer too, which is exactly what I’m doing.
Alex @ Mammoth. photo: cko
What are you taking?
Ohhh, smart guy huh (laughs)?
Alex: Yeah but it’s a pain in the ass (laughs).
Any other plans for the summer?
Nick: Probably come to Hood for a while and try to find a place to ski.
Go ahead and tell everyone your plan for Hood this summer Nick.
Nick: I’m going to fly here with no plans and hopefully someone will let me crash on their floor and then hopefully I’ll get to ski in a lane. So if there’s anyone out there who can get me free skiing and free accommodation let me know (laughs)!
Nick @ West Coast Session. photo: cko
Alex @ West Coast Session. photo: cko
So speaking of Hood, we’re sitting right there at the West Coast Session. How’s this event treated you so far?
Nick: Bad weather, not the nicest set-up but really, really fun. There’s lots of good people here and good vibes and…
Alex: We got to ski powder in April (laughs).
Must be nice to come out West from the East and shred a bit more pow that you’re use to.
Nick: Well when we were growing up we got to ski a fair bit of pow because we’d always do a yearly trip to Jackson, but in the past year we’ve been getting into the whole sledding thing. So we’ve being going out the backcountry a bit and testing that out, and it’s been really nice to get a bit of experience in that area.
Alex. Whitewater, BC backcountry. photo: Alex Boll
Being from the East but having moved to the West, is it important for you guys to still show respect to those roots?
Nick: Oh absolutely. I feel like the East coast spirit on the West coast is the best thing that can happen. I mean there’s so many kids that have moved from the East to the West and they just appreciate it every day and shred so hard every day because they’re from the East.
Alex: There’s so many differences too. First of all when you greet someone you slap-pound on the West, as opposed to the East where you just slap.
Nick: (laughs) It’s so true.
Alex: The Pong is what you call it in Colorado, where as back East it’s called Beirut, or Root. And that’s another huge controversy. Same thing with ice. In Colorado ice is anything that’s really hard, but back East it’s like, a skating rink (laughs).
Nick's double front at Heat Harvest. photo: Wesley Feuz
So since we’re on the subject of the coasts, Nick you spent some time on the South coast this year, at some interesting Jib Academies.
Nick: Hell yeah, I did four Jib Academies this year, and some of them were definitely in some weird spots, but the weirdest one was in North Carolina. But I must say, it was by far the best. The kids there were so stoked, they were killing it, and they had one of the funnest parks I’ve ever skied, on one of the worst mountains I’ve ever skied. It was good vibes all around and Charlie Owens won it. That kid has got great style. There was way more talent there than you would ever expect. I met a kid from Florida there. I mean Florida! I forget his name but he just slayed, and he was like, ‘Yeah I ski about four times a year, I just drive to North Carolina from Florida.’ It was crazy (laughs).
Nick @ Jib Academy. photo: Jenny Naftulin
Yeah the Jib Academies and the Pros and Powder Tour are great events. I love going to them and seeing all the super stoked and sick kids in middle-of-nowhere areas where you would never expect them to be.
Nick: The Jib Academy is sick. I mean in terms of a competition we roll up to a mountain, kids can register for free, get a bunch of free swag, a free lunch and they get to ski with a sick group of skiers for the day, and they pay absolutely nothing. And almost everyone goes home with something ridiculous. They’re awesome.....
Cedric Tremblay-Fournier burst into the room with a handful of beers
Cedric: You sons of bitches!
Oh Cedric. Hey we’re doing an interview right now. What are your thoughts these guys?
Cedric: They’re crazy motherfuckers. Wait, I mean talented crazy motherfuckers. These guys hit rails that I wouldn’t do.
That’s a pretty big complement coming from you.
Cedric: Well it is, but I’m getting fucking old (laughs). Anyway, I’ll kick you in the balls later Schmuck.
So Nick, Superunknown…are you bummed you didn’t win? Because there was a bit of talk, or debate rather, with people saying maybe you should have won…
Nick: I wasn’t too disappointed. I mean I sort of entered just assuming someone would come out and beat me like last year, so I basically just entered for fun. It was good to get some footage out and get people stoked on it, so that’s basically what I did. So I wasn’t too worried about it, because I know good things will still come.
Alex: I think the real issue with Superunknown this year is that there wasn’t enough backflips. I mean how are you going to pick a winner when you don’t know who is going to do the best backflips?
Alex: photo: Matt Stauble
You are in an equally large contest of a similar name yourself right now Alex.
Alex: Yes. Super-Kang-Known. It’s a heated battle. Jack Borland spent a long time on very nice and sunny days stomping some serious kangs.
He had a nice slideshow too.
Alex: That he did.
But…you had the Mortal Kombat song. Do you think that will put you over the edge?
Nick: Yo, and he had a ridiculous afterbang on every one. Kids on NS love the afterbang and they’re goin get it in his video.
Alex: Yeah I went all out for a short while running purely on adrenalin for three laps at Breckenridge.
Your whole vid was filmed in one day right?
Alex: No, no, only 45 minutes.
Alex: Yeah I just got inspired and busted out about 600 liu kangs in three runs and tried to put something together that showed my abilities. I mean without backflips you can never really get the full throttle but I did my best.
So what have you guys seen this year that’s impressed you the most?
Nick: Brady Perron. I’ve seen a lot of footage of that kid lately that just blows my mind, and Tom Warnick. He is going to blow people away. He’s basically a mini-version of Tom Wallisch in everything he does and the skiing world will soon learn to love him.
Alex: I’ve been most impressed with the afterbang all around in the industry. I think it’s huge this year.
Alex. photo: Ian Boll
Now for those that don’t know, which may be many or may be few, define afterbang for everyone.
Alex: Afterbang is basically when you’re conscious of how you look when you’re landing.
Who do you guys most look up to right now?
Nick: Definitely people like Tom Wallisch, who are doing new tricks that people don’t do but also doing them with good style. And also guys like Sammy and TJ, who are doing all the biggest tricks but aren’t trying to overdo their style, they’re just doing it smooth and making it look perfect without trying to overdo it.
Nick: Yeah dude, he’s crazy this year.
Alex: Well he’s crazy every year, but especially now that he’s spending all of his time in the backcountry.
Nick. photo: Matt Stauble
So on the other side of the spectrum, is there anything that’s bumming you out about skiing right now?
Nick: Not really. I feel like skiing is going in a good direction right now. I love the whole style of it where people are getting more conscious of how they look when they ski and whatnot, I mean it can definitely be overdone but all in all I’m pretty stoked on how things are going.
Alex: I don’t like that a lot of people don’t seem to like just skiing anymore. They’re just all about the park and hate on everything else.
Nick: Yeah, like Tom Wallisch, and you can quote me on this…claims he hates powder skiing. He will tell you that in the interview you’re doing with him if you ask him (laughs).
Alex: Yeah you gotta know how to ski. It’s the origins of our sport. I mean I see so many kids in Colorado with such good skiing all around them but they only ride park. Being able to really ski really helps in the park too, and Tom is definitely really, really good at both.
Alex. Hood backcountry. photo: Ethan Stone
Do you think that as time goes on skiing will move away from that and go more towards the backcountry like with snowboarding and what Tanner is doing?
Nick: That’s sort of what we’re trying to do with Stept. This year we’ve got a little bit of pow, a lot of urban and a little bit of park stuff, but we’ve definitely been trying to keep it out of the park when it comes to filming.
Alex @ Mammoth. photo: cko
When it comes to park though, do you guys think the competition circuit is important to help get your name out there and help get the money you need to go out and do the things you want to do like film and travel?
Alex: For some people. I just think it’s too expensive. I mean any time I would go to a competition I would just count the amount of my friends that were going to be there that I figured would kick my ass and then realize that I’m going to spend 150 bucks to take three runs on a shitty course with a bunch of people yelling at me, and then have my friends beat me. That’s just not fun for me.
Nick: Well I think competing has helped me in terms of sponsors and exposure. It’s definitely the easier route to becoming bigger in skiing but at the same time I don’t think you need it. I mean you look at guys like Ahmet and Hornbeck and all those guys who just came up and got their name out there by filming and they’re starting to do well for themselves. But at the same competitions definitely help more on the financial side. I mean you look at someone like Colby West, who has just been destroying competitions like a machine this year and getting mad bank. So if you like skiing for a living, then competition is definitely better for that.
Nick and Tom Wallisch @ the US Open. photo: Jeff Schmuck
Is the financial side going to become more important for you guys as the years go on?
Nick: Well next year will be our first year living alone so money will become more of a factor. But in the ski industry I personally think the best route is to secure your financial status through competitions and then be able to move away from it, so I’d certainly like to do something like that.
Where do you guys hope to be in a few years? What’s a dream come true type of scenario?
Alex: Free heli skiing!
Nick: I really want to go to Nippon Open next year but I’m not going to have the money.
Do you hear that Jenny (laughs)?
Nick: (laughs) Yeah, well to be honest I just really want to go rage it in Asia. I think it’d be dope to go to Japan and shred.
Alex: Yeah there’s Japanese people here and we met all of them and they’re so chill.
Nick Yeah X-Dragon! X-Dragon from Newschoolers. I mean he’s Korean not Japanese but big shout-out to my boy X-Dragon. He’s chill, I love that guy.
So speaking of shout-outs, you guys want to toss some out to wrap things up along with any last thoughts and statements?
Alex: Buy our movie. $15 is really cheap for the amount of work we put into it. Check it out at steptproductions.com, it’s going to be called Road to Nowhere. Thanks to Amplid skis, Newschoolers and I guess Nick (laughs).
Nick: Word. I wanna thanks all my sponsors, especially Salomon, who’s helped me out a lot this year, and of course to my bro and of course everyone on Newschoolers.
photo: Matt Stauble