“Between the expenses, body damage and a constant need to progress, what keeps you driven to compete?” I asked.
“I sometimes ask myself that too,” Noah answered, laughing.
Noah Wallace is one of those talented US freeskiers who’s been able to stay at the top of competitions for years. His runs are consistently clean, stylish and always progressive. Noah was rad enough to talk to Newschoolers about his Olympic qualification process in-between his insanely busy traveling schedule.
When I spoke to Noah he had just gotten to Colorado after competing at the Stubai World Cup, where he placed 5th against a stacked competition. This result meant that he received 45 world cup points - an excellent start to the season, but only the beginning of a long journey to Pyeongchang. Recently, Noah competed at the Dew Tour, missing the slopestyle finals by juust 1.50 points in a stacked field.
Photo by Laura Obermeyer
Each Nation can have a maximum of four athletes to compete in the slopestyle course. Events in both Europe and the states can help athletes earn points towards qualifying for Pyeongchang, but it includes a massive amount of traveling - for most skiers the expenses come out of their own pockets. Earlier in the year Noah set up a gofundme in hopes of easing some of these financial costs. He’s backed by companies both large and small, but the reality is “Just because you have sponsors, it doesn’t mean you’re making money. You need sponsors if you’re competing in big events because you’re going to go through a lot of gear.”
This is only the second time there has been a slopestyle contest in the Olympics, and the competition has only increased.
“[The Olympics] would be the crazy thing to qualify for, especially with the crazy talent the US has. Everyone is gunning for it.”
Progression is key - and if the jumps are large enough triples will no doubt be necessary to podium. However, it’s often overlooked just how difficult (and painful) it is to progress rotations, grabs and spinning in different directions. It’s necessary to train the entire year to keep up. Noah has spent the last couple of years doing just that - he’s had nonstop training and traveling between the northern and southern hemisphere.
In the past year, skiers have kept the FIS under high scrutiny for holding contests under bad conditions and a lack of creative layouts. Even Dew Tour itself stated that the slopestyle qualifications were held during dangerous conditions. Noah pointed out that, “If you have good weather that’s amazing, but nobody can’t control that.” As for what Noah believes makes a contest good - “For me, it’s a fun course when the people running the contest actually treat the athletes well, and want to know what we really think. With rider’s input, you can build a sweet course - one that’ll keep us safe and let us have the most fun.”
Luckily, Pyeongchang’s course sounds promising.
“In Korea, the olympic course test event was still probably my favorite course I’ve ridden on so far - it was awesome.”
Photos of the course set-up from Noah’s blog
So what does keep Noah driven to compete? “I love competing, I love the challenge and I love to push myself a bit more to progress. I know competing isn’t for everybody, but I’ve always enjoyed it.” For someone so driven, Pyeongchang offers a huge goal to achieve. Noah has shown he can handle and thrive off an immense amount of pressure from competitions, is able to consistently progress with new tricks and can stomp a clean run even in the sketchy conditions.
Right now he just nends to focus on racking up FIS points and a podium finish for a spot to compete at the Olympics. With his drive, the goal is within reach so best of luck to him at the upcoming competitions!