Interview by Jim Borchardt
What's up Heff! I just watched your edit from Hood. Very impressive, coming back strong after your injury last fall. How was your past summer at Hood?
Yo Jim! Not too much, just finishing up the first week of my senior year at the University of Utah and currently lookin for a job. This summer at Hood was definitely one to remember. It came about after breaking my femur back in December and a good buddy, Forester Meeks, who has worked up at Hood for the past few years, got me the hook on the salt crew gig. (we had a dope crew: Forster Meeks, Alec Nelson, Ross Muelheim and myself.) We'd clock in at 6am, be to the top of palmer by 6:45, then we got to work throwing out about 100-200 salt bags for race coaches, putting up slow signs, and doing anything ski patrol or our bosses needed us to do. We'd cruise palmer all morning and then around 12:30, we'd close up and head down to Windells to lap the rope tows until they shut down at 3pm. (Big shout out to Chase the head digger at Windells and Jeff Curry the head ski coach at Windells). Once a week we'd take a salt hauling shift where we would drive snow cats to all the salt boxes around the mountain so they were filled for the camps and racers the next day. When the summer was bumping, those night shifts could go from noon until 2 in the morning..it was serious hours but the jobs gotta get done or the next day on the hill would be a slushy mess!
I was really impressed by all your footy from the past summer. I know that you also broke your leg back in December and were out of commission for the majority of the winter. Could you tell us a little about your leg injury and how it affected your mentality over the entire past year including this summer?
It all started December 15 in the backcountry, the day before I was supposed to fly home to Ohio for Christmas break. I got into a runnel that was barely filled but it appeared as if it was. It looked like a little half pipe so I skied right into the wall of it, but instead of catching tranny and going upward, I skied right into a rock wall behind the snow and the impact exploded my femoral head. Luckily I was out there with good buddy Brody Leven and a few others that were more than prepared for an incident like this. Huge thanks to those guys for keeping the situation under control! April 25th ( 4 months out of surgery), I had an x-ray that showed a lot of healing and bone forming but it still wasn't 100%. The doctor said I could take impact but it could be bad if I had a fall that put torque on it. I still had ambition of skiing and didn't want to spend another hot summer in the Utah library so I went to Hood mid May which was a very hard test mentally and physically. My leg was very sore everyday skiing, I was timid to hit small boxes, and all my friends were killing it..It was a huge struggle..Fast forward to June..I get back to Hood from a week back home and start skiing..it's now 6 months from surgery and I noticed a HUGE difference...I wasn't timid any more, I was getting back into tricking rails, spinning jumps, and filming in the park a little...The real test was when we went in the backcountry and sent this good size jump that I ate shit on a few times trying dub 10s but I was FINE. After that my confidence was back, I wasn't afraid of falling anymore, and it was time to re-master a bunch of tricks and learn new ones. Early July is when I really felt that fire again to learn new tricks and go big on jumps.
I can't really tell you struggled at all. Instead, it seems you came back twice as strong. Where did you stay this summer? Stay in the woods?
Ha thanks a bunch! I definitely learned some new tricks and had good people to ride with every day. A bunch of the HoodCrew kids rented out a house in Rhododendron for May/June/July (15 miles from the mountain) and they were down to hook anyone up with a spot for rent money. So to keep it cheap, I payed $150 a month to use everything in the house, but at the end of the day, I went and slept in my car ha..I had a really comfy setup so it was legit and gave me privacy from the man cave bunk bed room..The lease ended August 1st so I spent the last 2 weeks camping on a secret little spot up the West Leg road of Timberline. It was Alec Nelson, 2 frenchies (cbo and Thom Klaassen) myself, sometimes Kevin Curran, and that was basically it...the weather for the most part was fine besides one night. The gnarliest thunder/lightnight storm came through with hail and ruined our camp site for a couple days..I had my cooler dammed up in the river to keep it nice and cold and that unfortunately got swept down stream. Other than that it was a sick spot and super close to the parking lot for work in the morning.
I've always wanted to camp out at Hood so you could say I'm secretly trying to discover the best way to do so. Not a fan of mancaves though so I think you made a good choice with the car. Its less smelly ya know?
Whats on your radar for this coming season?
Yeah that man cave was gnarly..imagine sticking your nose in a hamper of dirty old ski socks and that's what MEEKS smells like after a shower!
This season coming up seems to be a bit of a bittersweet one. I'm coming off of an awesome summer and learned a ton of new tricks but I have just enough classes left in school that it would be silly not to graduate this year in May. So overall my 2 HUGE goals are to 1.) graduate from the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business with a bachelor's in Accounting and 2.) To stay Healthy! I had a banger freshman year but since then, I've broken my ankle, separated a shoulder, and broken a femur..I would love to cut that streak and stay healthy.
Relative to skiing though, I'm really hyped to film a bunch with Jwenz this season for Bloom. We have such a huge Bloom presence here in Utah and it would be sick to stack enough shots to be able to make a Bloom mix tape or movie. Since I"ll be pretty grounded in SLC with school, I'd love to get back into hitting urban around here and touring the Wasatch backcountry as much as possible. If time and school allow, I'd love to get out and get into an open comp or two and I'd love to get up to Baker over spring break to ski with my good buddy Kevin Curran (campa kev).
But none of these things can happen if I'm not healthy so that's the big one!
Cool to hear you got your priorities down Heff. I will likewise be graduating from the business school here at CU Boulder. Cheers to that. I wouldn't have guessed you to be an accountant. Maybe you could do the Bloom books? So with such a degree, what are you looking to do after school? How will this choice affect your skiing?
Ha yeah I didn't expect to fall into accounting. 2 summers ago I didn't make it to mt hood because I needed to retake a few classes in order to make it into the Business School. I took Accounting 2600 and 3600 back to back from the old external auditor of Apple. I loved his class and he is the one that talked me into accounting. Yeah I'll do Bloom's books! ha
At the moment, I don't see myself jumping right into an accounting position fresh out of school. I'd like to ski and travel for awhile but know in the back of my mind that I have an accounting degree to fall back on. I like the idea of having multiple options to ski, go back to school and get my masters (CPA), grab a job, etc....
You know, get a degree to justify ski bumming for awhile.
I know where you're coming from. I'm ready to get out of school with a degree, but spend some more time enjoying my youth before life becomes more serious.
That must of been interesting having an old Apple auditor in the class. What is the most interesting thing you learned from him? Any good stories?
Ha he was a pretty good teacher...completely irrelevant to accounting but when he didn't show up to class for a week and we kept getting cancellations...when he showed back up to class it was because he had a freak story about him needing his spleen removed ..it was intense.
I just recently watched your season edit from a couple seasons back. I forgot how well rounded of a skier you are. When did you start skiing in the B.C.?
I dabbled freshman year (4 seasons ago) in Grizzly Gulch a bit to hit a few jumps when I filmed with Bentley Atteberry for a movie "Collab". I mostly rode Brighton that year but it was a really sick spring, so I skied a lot of pow. The next season I broke my ankle 2 days before Thanksgiving. Once I returned in February, Park City was pretty on the hurt side of things, and it didn't stop snowing that year. Only having 2 online classes, I either toured or rode snowbird every single day. I inherited a pass there from a buddy who moved back home for the winter, and I rode with a group of guys who slayyyed. The crew consisted of Jeremy Lato, Barrett Cincotta, Karl Fostvedt, Calvin Hawley, Daniel Syms, Bo Torrey, Mike Greer and hopefully I didn't forget anyone. I would definitely say I feel like I was tossed into a different style of riding and those guys definitely shaped it for me...It's weird, a season I was injured for 3 months ended up being my most memorable year to this date...hitting the skin track, building jumps, or hoppin on the first chair at the bird with those guys every day was the best. Since then, Utah's had two crappy snow years and I've got into the backcountry when I've been able to ..mostly sidecountry and mellow tours but hopefully that all changes this season!
Which do you prefer more, a day in the BC or a day in the park? Do you find it more rewarding to stomp tricks in the backcountry over the park?
At this point I'm just stoked to be healthy and skiing..a good day is a good day..There's no feeling like stomping a new trick in the park but I would say it's more rewarding to stomp it into pow on a feature that you built with with your own hands. A day in the park also doesn't compete with that feeling you get of standing on the peak of a mountain..So I'd say the backcountry has some rewarding perks but again..at this point..a day on skis, no matter where, is a day well spent.
I like it man, that's a good perspective. What inspires you the most as a creative skier?
Hmm that's a tough one. I would have to say everyone that rides hard in Utah is pretty inspiring. There's so much diversity with there being 3 canyons all right next to each other. Up Parley's you have Park City, which breeds top notch park riders, then you have Big Cottonwood Canyon where you can find awesome side country, nice long approaches to fast steep BC lines, and some of the best rail riders at Brighton. To top it off, you have Little Cottonwood Canyon. Geographically, It's the next canyon south of Big Cottonwood (they share a ridge). Here you can find some of the best all mountain riders, where you get everything from guys who are soo playful on any kind of feature and can turn any run into their own park ..and then you have guys who are just hard hittin fast chargin riders at Snowbird that just mob over anything in their way...while that may be a very broad perspective on all those areas ..it's kind of the first things that come to my mind and after riding all over the Wasatch for the past couple years, it's easy to draw inspiration from all over and roll it up into one style
What inspires you outside the realms of skiing?
Probably my parents..They've both been around the block many more times than I have and sometimes you brush off parental advise like they don't know what they're talking about, but most of the time they're telling you from experience, so it's always good to listen. They've both had such amazing work ethic their whole lives and always been there for me so I want to strive the most to be like them. My dad is retired and will be 58 this month. He comes out to Utah to ski a few times a year and it's awesome to see him progress in leaps and bounds every time he's out here so if he can progress that much in the trips he's out here...so can I
Cheers to your parents. Besides skiing, what else do you enjoy doing?
My main hobby is watching Freed guzzle a fifth of fireball, taking him downtown, and then watching how he interacts with bouncers, bums, and the general public.
Where do you see skiing going in the next ten years? Think it will level off in terms of what's being thrown?
I see skiing breaking in a bunch of different directions as it already has been. You'll always have the guys running the comp scene trying to toss the next biggest rotation, but then you will have guys that are paving the way in backcountry and urban scene who hopefully will get the recognition they deserve. There's snowboarders out there who only hit rails and get paid. I think with the Olympics coming through, it'll bring more money and recognition to the sport and more fellas will start getting the cred they deserve.
I'd agree that the sport will continue to thrive through many different aspects. Its all about the younger kids bringing in new styes. Where will you be in ten years? Still skiing?
in 10 years...I'll be turning 33..I'll have lived through 5 more, 2-year cell phone contracts. That's about all I can predict. I typically live in the present and am not a fortune teller so I have no Idea what or where I'll be in the year 2023...maybe at a 15 year high school reunion?
Well its been nice talking to ya Heff. I'm really eager for ski season to start and I'm stoked to be working with you again this year. Have anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks Jim. I am stoked to be working with Bloom again. Shout out to all those kids spinning their hearts out and big Meeks holding it down in Napa..big thanks to everyone who continues to support this addiction called skiing