I know a lot of people who aren�t big fans of Simon Dumont. Most of those people don�t know him, and none of them are friends with him, but I�ve still heard them call him every bad name in the book. I�ve known him for quite a while now, and I�m always quick to defend him when people bring the hate. That�s because I feel like I know the real Simon. He�s extremely generous to the people that show him love and respect, and not afraid to be the opposite to those who don�t. He�s upfront, honest and not afraid to tell you what he thinks, and he�s always there for his true friends. Yet, the ongoing yin-and-yang opinion towards him has always made me wonder why a lot of people haven�t seen that side of him. Some might say he�s misunderstood, or that there are actually two sides to him, but I don�t think either are the case. I think it�s because most people haven�t had the opportunity to hear what really thinks, and what really matters to him. Last week, I sat down with him to try to rectify that situation. I didn�t want to interview him about partying or what kind of car he just bought or his rivalry with Tanner, as has been done so many times before. I wanted it to be more of a conversation between two friends about how excited he is about his new company, his thoughts on the future of skiing and how he wants to contribute to it, and how much it would mean to him if he could win a gold medal in the Olympics - Jeff Schmuck

photo: Jeff Schmuck�So, what�s up with Empire?��Well, the best thing is, it�s not just one thing. If I can say anything it�s a more of a company that�s rider-based, rider-owned and rider-influenced. I don�t just want to go out there and make tons of money, obviously that�s the key in the end, but I want make something unique, something cool, and something everybody can be stoked on. I just want to add my own feel to it. I did the logo and I�m pretty psyched on it and now I�m moving into getting product samples. So people will see it soon enough."�What kind of products are you going to be producing?��The products will be endless. I will be starting off with something and from there I want it to go into every field. The possibilities are endless, and that�s one of the reasons I�m starting this company. Let�s say somebody wants to make skis. They�ll make skis and a bunch of t-shirts and stuff, but I want to be able to do more than that, and go in any direction. One year I might say, �Hey, I want to make shoes this year,� and I�m going to make the coolest shoes and put all my effort into it. I think the company is going to take off."�So you won�t just be focusing on one thing.��Exactly. I�m looking at someone like Oakley. They started twenty years ago selling bike grips out of the back of a truck, and now they don�t have bike grips anymore. Since then they�ve done sunglasses, goggles, outerwear, streetwear, shoes, and a bunch of other products, and they just sold for 2.2 billion dollars.��Who�s going to be running the show?��I�m going to have a big part. My best friend from my hometown who has his business degree and my agent will have a huge part in it as well, and I figured I needed people who are really close to me who I can trust, and my mom works super hard so she�s definitely going to be on board too.�
 /span>�It says a lot about your character to have people you care about and want to give back to you running your company as opposed to stealing an executive-type of guy from say Target or Oakley, which I�m sure you could do.� "Yeah, and at the same time I want it to be unique. And I feel like an executive guy might go too buy-the-book and say things like, �Yeah, this is what�s cool right now, so let�s do that.� I�m in the industry, I know what�s popular and try to have an idea of what�s cool, and I take everybody�s opinion into account. Jake is in the demographic I�m looking for so his is a good opinion to have, my mom is pretty hip and into things and she�ll do whatever it takes to see this succeed, and Michael (his agent) is in the industry all the time, talking to all the core companies, so I really value his opinion as well. I value everyone�s. Even all the kids on Newschoolers. Yeah, they hate a lot but at the same time they have really good opinions on what�s cool and what�s not. And I do plan on selling outside the ski industry but I want to keep it freeskiing-focused. I want to help give the sport more of an identity and that�s the main reason I started this company.��Any plans for a team, or will it just be you for the first year?��Nothing�s official but I have three athletes that I know of that are into it and one Euro guy that if I could get, it�s going to be ridiculous team-wise. All in all, I�ve got some good things going on, and I wish I could tell you everything right now but I can�t, because that�s how I want to market the company.��Fair enough. So when are products going to be available for sale to the public?��I�m getting my first samples in the next few days, so people might actually see what I�m coming with in Switzerland at the Freestyle.ch. All I can say is really soon. Definitely by the fall.��It�s just going to be internet sales for the first year right?��Yeah, just internet for the first year. I�m planning on doing a lot of limited edition type of stuff, because I think that�s the coolest. When I go into a shop and see something that not many people are going to have, I want it twice as bad.��So the shops that want it will have to wait till next year?��Yeah, this time next year. Internet sales will be the right way to start things off. Just so people can go on my website (http://www.empireattire.com) and check out some cool stuff, there�ll be a bunch of content up there and whatnot. It�s going to be sick and I�m super excited.�
photo: Felix Rioux�There�s a rumor going around that on top of everything else, you�re starting a shop.��I actually just bought a commercial building in my hometown and gave my sister all the leeway to open up a store. She�s really into fashion and so I said, �Okay, if you want to open up a clothing store, open a clothing store.� I�ll have the Empire offices in there as well and plan on selling my product in there as well eventually.��And what�s up for this winter?��Hopefully keep the comp scene rolling and stay in the loop. I want my X-Games medal back real bad. I saw Tanner skiing in New Zealand this summer and it was ridiculous, so I�m pretty excited to compete against him.�
 photo: Felix Rioux�Speaking of that, in the intro to the halfpipe section in Yeah Dude, it was really nice to hear you say how important it is for you to push the sport in the right direction and how badly you want to see it in the Olympics. A lot of kids haven�t had the opportunity to see that side of you, and they just hate on you and assume you�re in it for the money and call guys like you and Jon sell-outs for riding for companies like Target and J-Lindeberg.��That�s ridiculous. Money is important to me because what a lot of kids don�t understand is that when guys like me and Jon are pushing thirty, we might not be making as much money as athletes and we might not even have jobs. I hope that�s not the case but it�s likely that there�ll be seventeen-year-olds doing tricks we helped innovate bigger and better than us and the industry may toss us out in the cold as athletes. So it is important for guys like us to make our money now, but seeing the sport go in the right direction is very, very important to me, and that�s why I want to see halfpipe in the Olympics so bad. And anyone that doubts what the Olympics would do for skiing and says it would be the hugest sell-out just doesn�t know what they�re talking about. Just look at what it�s done for snowboarding and Shaun White.��Oh yeah, I forgot that you�re friends with him. What�s his life is like after the Olympics?��It�s insane. His whole life has changed. I�ll be in the airport with him and he has to go and hide out in the Delta lounge, otherwise people will maul him. Everyone wants a piece of him, and you know how it goes, once you sign one autograph you�re signing for hours. People that don�t even snowboard know who he is and they all associate snowboarding with him, and that�s because of the Olympics.��You know a lot of people don�t realize it, but there is still a chance for this event to happen in 2010 in Vancouver. It�s a small chance, but it�s still a chance.��Yeah, it�s dwindling down to almost nothing, but the announcement of halfpipe skiing being put on the Dew Tour is probably the best thing I could think of happening. The Honda Ski Tour is great, but it�s kind of a downer that there�s only two stops this year and that there�s going to be snowboarding in it. I�m going to do both stops, but I�m super stoked on the Dew Tour.��Yeah we were talking about that at the office the other day and how sick it is that they�re putting skiing on it. For all the kids out there that don�t know what we�re talking about, the Dew Tour is a pretty damn big action sports event sponsored on by Mountain Dew that�s owned and broadcasted by NBC. Can you give them a little insight as to what�s going to happen with it?��The announcement was made pretty recently, so I�m not too sure about the Dew Tour other than it�s official, skiing is on it. But NBC does put it on and that�s a big, big deal. It�ll give a lot more people a little preview of what skiing is all about and what�s going on. And I think there�s enough drama in skiing competition-wise to make it a really attractive show that draws a lot of ratings for the networks and that�ll help with the Olympics.��No doubt. You take a look at the X-Games superpipe and how ESPN broadcasts it on Sportscentre, which is a big deal for you guys and for skiing. They estimate that about two million people watch that every year, where as twenty to thirty million people watched the snowboard halfpipe in Torino."�I know. It�s crazy. So if this whole thing with the Dew Tour goes well, and NBC is really stoked on it, there�s still a chance that they could go to the IOC and say �Hey, skiing halfpipe is huge,� and drop it right into the Olympics.��Yeah. A lot of people don�t understand that in some way, it�s the TV networks that truly run the Olympics. The proper protocol for a new event to be put in the Olympics is for the host city to be stoked to make it happen, the governing body of the sport, in our case FIS, to work out a judging system and start the worldwide grassroots circuit, before taking it to the IOC for approval for the Games, who then have to get the thumbs up from the networks that they want to broadcast the sport. It�s a lot of politics. I�ve conversed with a guy who is heavily involved with the organizing of the freestyle events at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He was telling me that when they went to the FIS Congress last year in Spain, they pushed for skiing halfpipe because it made more sense to them to have that event than skiercross, because the venue is already going to be there so it wouldn�t cost anything extra, and it was more exciting and targeted the youthful demographic that the Olympics have been losing but are starting to get back with snowboard halfpipe. But at the same time, he said they had to walk the line as the organizing committee, because it was more than obvious that FIS wanted skiercross to happen. He said all the North Americans and the guys from the UK seemed super into halfpipe, but that anytime it was brought up, the Euros wouldn�t even acknowledge the topic and would change the subject right away, and so of course skiercross got approved over us. So the way things stand, it seems like the only way this is going to go down is if the whole chain of command goes in reverse and NBC steps up to the plate and plops a briefcase full of money on the IOC�s desk and says, �We want halfpipe skiing at 2010.���Yeah, and let�s pray for it. I�m pretty sure that�s what happened with BMX in Beijing for next year. I don�t think that got approved until recently, and snowboard halfpipe didn�t get approved for the Olympics until over two years before 98.��Actually, I think it was more like a year and a half, but I could be wrong.��Really? See, that�s what makes me think it could still happen, and I�m definitely going to do everything I can to see it go down.�
 photo: Felix Rioux�What are you going to do personally to try to help the situation?� "Anything and everything. Go to every halfpipe contest I can, compete the best I can and have as much fun as I can, because it the end that�s what�s most important in skiing. Every interview I do at every halfpipe contest from the X-Games to the Ski Tour I make a point of saying, �This is a push towards the Olympics. This event proves we have a structured event and that that we�ve got our act together and are working as hard as we can.� And I have people in my life from my agent to my sponsors working behind the scenes to help try to make it happen as well.��Douglas and I had a good chat about that a year ago and he was telling me that Troy (from Target) was planning on putting together a video of you and others skiing pipe and footage from the X-Games and whatnot to try to show it to Dick Ebersol (the president of NBC Sports) to show him what�s up. Which is pretty dope, considering not many people in the ski industry have the pull to have that sort of a meeting.��I�m pretty sure NBC would like to see it go down at this point, but another issue that has to get looked at it before it happens is the whole judging thing with FIS.��You know a lot of people talk about the whole FIS thing and what it would take for halfpipe skiing in the Olympics to work, with the judging system and all, and we could have a whole other conversation about just that subject. Although I feel like I know quite a bit I can�t claim to know as much about it as a lot of people. But it seems to me for this to happen, there�s going to be certain sacrifices that will have to be made on the athletes� parts, especially in the area of judging, and it�s possible that a few or a lot of athletes, like yourself or Tanner or Riddle, are going to get screwed hard by judging at FIS contests along the way in order to make this a reality, and for the event to go smoothly when it actually goes down. Are you willing to make that sacrifice?��Hell yeah. Because a contest is a contest and it doesn�t matter if FIS is judging it or not, there�s always controversy surrounding judging, and I don�t think I�ve ever been to a competition when someone hasn�t gotten screwed. It�s part of competing. And when it goes down, it�s not going to be random guys judging it, it will be FIS. And that�s okay, but we will all need to work super hard together to try to educate the judges and help them understand that the sport is unique and that�s why people come out to watch it and enjoy it.��So if it doesn�t end up happening in 2010, do you think you could still be there in 2014 in Russia?��If I could do it, if my body holds up, yes, because an Olympic medal is my top priority. It�s the next thing on my list. I mean, I want my X-Games title back so bad, but if I can get an Olympic medal�I�d trade all my X-Games ones for it.�
photo: Tyler Hamlet


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