interview by Duncan LakeSo where did you grow up skiing?Stratton Mountain, VT, and Bromley as a wee lad.What skiers have influenced your riding?Overall, I have been most influenced by Dave Crichton, but lately I would say Vanular in the park and Rainville all around, just because I've gotten the chance to ride with them so much.What is the best place you've visited to ski?I like St. Anton a lot. Also, I really want to go to Chamonix to live for a few years at some point in my life, or Switzerland when I'm older. Europe is just better.What tricks are you working on right now?Right 9's Who do you ski for?SPY, Tecnica, Volkl, Marker, and Volkl Clothes. I just re-signed with Volkl, and I'd like to thank Chris Adams and Alex Zika for making that happen. Bern, Grenade, Sublux, and Stratton have also been helping me out. Within the last few years you've not been competing much, instead you've been focused primarily on shooting video segments, why is this?Competitions are getting too intense, and going to college all fall and working all summer for the last 5 years has made it even harder for me to keep up. When I got to school, I had to decide between filming and competing, which was easy: no one remembers competitions, and segments are forever. More ski companies need to acknowledge that their athletes are selling skis through magazine photos and video segments, rather than through un-televised competitions.You had a pretty serious knee injury recently, how did that affect your season? What was your recovery process like? Last year was a tough one. I tweaked my knee in Island Lake Lodge, BC sometime in mid-January. After that, I really couldn't push it as hard as I wanted on jumps, so I mainly focused on shredding the rest of the mountain, which improved my skiing a lot, even though it sucked having to take it easy all the time. I rode my bike all summer, and got orthoscopic surgery in September to repair some cartilage, and now I'm feeling almost 100 percent. Last year you traveled to Norway, what's the scene like over there? The kids from Norway and Sweden are pushing it so hard in the park! Last year's Open proved that they're leading the pack in slopestyle, but there was such a scene over there that I felt like I was skiing in Mammoth in 01-02. Those kids are hungry, and they'all feeding off of eachother's energy and looking to guys like PK Hunder for direction. I don't see PK falling off any time soon, and the rest of those crazy Scanners are biting at his heels. What do you have in store for this year? Big air and a cool buzz. Also lots of lines: I've been skiing deep pow in Jackson Hole for the last two weeks and I'm driving down to Utah in two days to start filming booters and lines with Freedle Coty.Unlike many pro skiers, you recently graduated from college, was it difficult pursuing a career in skiing while getting a degree? How did you find a balance?It has been a struggle, but I finally got 'er done, I just graduated from Bates on December 15th. The balance between school and skiing has helped to keep me sane, or at least given me the illusion that my life has been taking the right direction, but now I have to face the music. I'm going to get really serious about skiing for a couple of seasons, and I'm prepared to subsist on a diet of peanut butter and jelly if that's all I can afford. If I'm still living out of the back of my Subaru in 3 years, I'll be ready for a change. I'm considering law school, or something equally painful.As a skier, how do you think growing up on the East Coast differs from growing up in the West? Hard tellin...not knowin...?? I was born and raised in New England and I think that anyone who has solid fundamentals can learn to ski anything if they put their mind to it, but I'm not sure that East Coast ice breeds better skiers, as so many like to claim. The East does tend to produce great rail skiers, just as the west turns out pow skiers by the dozen: everyone is a product of their environment. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't great park and pipe skiers coming from the West, or that East Coasters can't become big mountain masters with practice, just look at Hugo Harrison and Marc-Andre.In the last few years, location oriented segments (as opposed to single rider segments) have become much more popular in ski movies, what are your thoughts on this?I want to see diversity in movies just like everyone else, which is why I was glad to see that a number of production companies broke from the mold of segment-based films this year. The problem with ski movies right now is that many producers have grown too comfortable with the same stale recipe that they've been using for almost a decade; I respect what they're doing, but it's time to begin taking more risks. I hope that as freeskiing continues to grow, the market for ski movies will become flooded and innovation will happen by default, just as it has in the snowboard industry. Snowboard movies are better, but only because the competition is so stiff and the talent pool is so deep. As skiing grows and matures over the next few years, I am confident that ski films will follow suit.What is your favorite snowboard segment ever?Tough Call. Although Nicolas Mueller has produced some of the best segments in action-sports history, it's gotta be the shared opener to AFTERBANG: Louie Fountain and JP Solberg. What is your favorite ski movie of all time, and why?Royalty. This film pioneered a style which is still being emulated by the sport's best; slow spins with basic grabs, and a focus on style above all else. Many of today's park rats would do well to observe that true style has little to do with prison shower grabs, double flips, and hucked 1260's. Although it is all park, everything in Royalty looks like skiing, and not gymnastics. I still watch it weekly, seven years after it first dropped.Do you think having skiing half pipe in the Olympics would be good for the sport or a colossal disaster? On one hand, freeskiing is less mainstream than snowboarding right now, which isn't a bad thing. On the other, everyone can agree that the world needs to see how big skiers are going, and to witness the evolution of switch pipe skiing. The problem with bringing ski pipe to an Olympic venue is that the judges will likely reward spin-to-win runs over style and fluidity, just as they have been doing in the Ski Tour; if people like Stefan Thomas are overlooked, Olympic ski pipe could push skiing in the wrong direction. Even so, this risk must be taken, because these athletes are world-class, and they deserve the recognition.Who are your favorite up-and-comers that people should keep their eyes on?Montage Inc. is always on the come up. In the East, look out for Parker White and Shea Flynn.If you could eliminate one trend from skiing what would it be?P.H.D's...watch Belly if you're unfamiliar with this acronym.Who will win X-Games slopestyle this year?Sean Decker or T-Rains.What do you think about not using poles?I'm really on the fence about this one, but I do hate seeing kids just duck-walking around who can't ski. Free hands are great for practicing grabs and palming your nuts on cold days, but poles will never be a relic of the past. That said, I thought that IDEA was on point, and those guys slay it harder than anybody (poles or no poles).Â What music are you into these days?10ft Ganja PlantShout-outs?LD: Duncan Lake, BMP, DubDub, Grey Meadow and Uphill Farms, Mom and Pop, Manchester Woodcraft, Freedle, Berman, 75 and Vale St. Crue, Rainville, Grunow, the various Sean Deckers etc.
A Day With Liam Downey
published by schmuck