Skier Logan Imlach has officially announced his ‘retirement’ from ski filming.
But what does that mean, what is retirement? It may seem like a simple concept, but things get messy fast when looking at skiing. Sure, a comp skier retiring from competing is simple, but what about a film skier? Do they even have a ‘career’ to retire from? Where is that line drawn? How do you create that distinction?
I sat down (via the internet) with Logan to get breakdown this move and figure out what it all means.
How old are you?
Where are you residing now?
Fairbanks, AK/Woodinville, WA
Basic rundown of where your life is at?
I'm buying land and building a cabin this summer.
Basic outline of your winter?
I skied a bunch for myself in Washington, then went on a trip to Minnesota with Level 1 and got some hammers. There were only 3, so I'm not sure if they'll make it into the movie or not. After that I skied with my girlfriend up in Fairbanks and learned how to develop my own film. I skied less than 30 days this season, and it was my favorite season yet.
So you're 'retiring,' looking back, what do you think of your career? I've read some of your old interviews, and you definitely have a unique view on the 'profession, so I'm curious to know if you even call it a career? If not what do you call it?
Haha, retiring is such a funny term. I'll never retire from skiing; it's something that I love to do. But I am going to stop the elusive hunt for filming a segment, because I'm just ready to move on to a different chapter in my life. Looking back at the past 5 years of filming with Level 1 I definitely hold my head high. I always told myself that if a season went by where I didn't do something that nobody has ever done before, I would quit. Well, it never had to come to that, and if you go back, every single segment has a trick that had never been done before (to my knowledge) on skis, including this movie coming up. In what better way can you leave?
Skiing was never really my career, and I was always one to dog on the term 'professional', but my girlfriend recently brought that into perspective for me. I was always a professional skier because I did it at the highest level. It was almost sort of selfish of me to scoff at that term for so long, because you know what? If doing what I have been doing for the past 5 years is being a professional skier, then I would tell every kid with the drive to do it "Fuck yeah, you should try to be a pro skier." It's become pretty apparent now after the Olympics that the competition skiers will get more and more money, while the film skiers continue to get shit on, but honestly, who is the better athlete? Who shows more talent? I'd say they're at the very least even, so to call one a professional and the other not would be asinine.
Looking back what do you see? What sticks out to you personally? Any moments, trips etc that stick out?
Oh man, there are so many incredible memories. I can tell you that the one thing I will miss more than anything is the people. Even in the past few years, I felt like I took entirely more pride watching the movie and remembering every shot that I helped on rather than shot that I got. Remember Tom's 630 disaster from Sunny? I was running the winch. Shit the whole session at that ledge was nuts. Remember Will's Flat-Transfer/Redirect-DFD from Partly Cloudy? He wanted to quit hitting it and I convinced him to hit it 7 more times. All of the criticism people gave for "why is there someone yelling after like every shot in Hornbeck's Sunny part?" Most of those were me screaming my ass off.
I feel like most of the allure and enjoyment, for me, that came from trips were the long car rides and late nights that I got to spend talking with like minded individuals and learning about them. The bonds that you form on a film trip develop so much faster than a normal friendship. It's insane, I mean think about it, you are experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows in such a compressed time frame. You are seeing beneath that guard that people put up in real life because you are there with them experiencing defeat after defeat after defeat, then finally the over joy of rewarded perseverance. I mean maybe just a couple days ago that person was a stranger, but now you're picking them up off the ground and getting their blood on your hoodie and telling them, "Fuck that, you've got that. Try again." That says so much about the caliber of individuals that take part in filming, and probably the biggest reason I've decided to stick around that side of our sport for so long. And hands down the biggest part I will miss. But you know what? I have got friends for life that I've met through filming, and every single one of them knows that I would drop everything that I'm doing to give them a hand or just to hang out.
I would always get a little bit emotional at the end of a trip because it's like "fuck man, these guys are my best friends on earth right now, and I have no idea when I'm ever going to see them again." The dangers of what we do are all too real, and I never had to actually experience that loss until recently (Ski in peace Rubber Ducky) but now it completely makes sense to me that when you see skiers parting ways after a mission or saying what's up to an old friend it is ALWAYS with a big fat hug.
It's crazy to look back and know that I've been doing this for 12 years off and on. I mean I filmed my first handrail with Tim Durtschi and Kevin Bennett when I was 15 years old. But the thing that I've come to realize while mulling this over is that skiing never defined me, what's inside me and engrained in my soul defined the way that I skied. I will never lose that part of me; there will always be something to create and to release the artistic side of me, whether it be through designing something or building something or writing, really anything. Sure a part of me will miss it, but you can never think that some exterior factor defines you, because that's bullshit. What's inside you shapes the world around you, and the sooner that you come to that realization your life becomes just that much better.
Why are you calling it quits now? Was it the industry? Personal? Other reasons?
Haha, the industry hasn't ever played a role in me skiing or not skiing. "The industry" tried to get me to quit last year by pulling all of my funding, but I wasn't done yet. I built some skis, I loaded up my credit card, and I made one trip happen. I went to Minnesota with one of my favorite people to film with, Jake Strassman, and two up and comers, Sandy Boville and Khai Krepala. Watching those two kids ski just floored me. They are both so ridiculously talented and have great work ethics; they are going to go far in the ski world. We spent a week there, I did 3 tricks that nobody has done before, we had a great fucking time (aside from getting robbed), and we all walked away healthy. I played the crusty veteran the whole trip and eventually took care of Sandy getting a plane ticket out of there. Subconsciously, I knew that was going to be my last trip. What a fucking great way to end it? I would much rather go out like that then blowing my knee out or fucking myself up and being forced to quit.
The reason that the inclination even entered my brain? Ski building has replaced my obsession of actually skiing. There was a time not long ago that I would think about skiing almost every waking moment. I'd always daydream of new ways to do things, and seemingly everything I looked at turned into something to ski on. During my time building that quiver of skis and then spending time skiing on them, my obsession became ski design. I was (and still am) tearing apart the skis in my mind and trying to figure out how to make them better. It's like a tick. It is wholly and fully my calling in life. So that's what I'm doing now, I'm quitting the oil fields and trying to find a company that needs someone with an engineering degree and a proven skiing background to come up with new ideas and to advance the industry. I might not get to do it with my skis on my feet anymore, but I'm going to continue giving back to the sport that I love more than almost anything.
What is next for your skiing? In an older SBC skier interview you “The season that I filmed [the superunknown edit] was because that was going to be the last year we made a movie with our local crew, so mentally I was just kinda like, “Yeah I’ll try to go out with a bang, and transition to becoming a recreational skier.” And I was cool with that.” Is this the transition we’re seeing now?
I'm still going to ski, and hell maybe I'll still even throw out some edits here and there. The edit I put out with Hornbeck earlier this year was easily the most fun I've had skiing park since like 2008 haha. But yes, I'm going to start being a recreational skier, whatever that means. I'll still have a GoPro and I'll still wear it at resorts like a gaper and put out some shitty edits. The biggest plan that I have for my future in skiing however is sharing the gift of it with my kids. I'm definitely stepping out of this lifestyle into one that is going to be more conducive to starting a family, because that's where I'm at in my life right now. It's not about being sad you're closing one chapter, of course I will miss freezing my ass off in the middle of the night eluding police and having fun with my buddies, but looking backwards keeps you from moving forwards. I've mulled it over, made my choice, and I'm just going to tackle whatever is next.
From an outsider perspective it seems like you were never really one who cared for the spotlight of the “pro” lifestyle? Am I off-base with that?
Not at all. Mousseau had to pull my teeth to get me to do this interview haha. I've never been afraid of sharing my opinion with people who ask, but I'm also not big on the spotlight. I HATE doing video interviews and I really don't even like watching videos of myself ski. But I've also come to the realization lately (again, due to convincing from my girlfriend) that it's okay for kids to look up to me. I used to always say "Fuck that, get a real role model." But I speak my mind, work hard, and get to do what I love, so if kids want to look up to me for that, then that's great. I fully realize that may come off as arrogant, but I've also come to learn that if you aren't comfortable in your own skin then you can't possibly be truly happy.
You may naturally have shied away from the spotlight, but it seems like it was never really thrust on you much after Superunknown, I mean that hype was real, you beat out some pretty damn good skiers like Tim McChesney, Alex Bellemare and Clayton Villa and others. People will inevitably say you didn’t live up to that hype, and this ‘retirement’ just you being ‘washed up,’ or ‘you never “made it” in the first place.’
How would/are you going to respond to the haters?
Haha, you forgot McRae, Spencer, Sig, Aidan, Torvinen, Laker, and most of all, Karl. I mean whenever someone brings Superunknown up I just laugh, I still can't believe to this day that I won. I mean on a skill alone maybe I shouldn't have, but Josh, Freedle and Kyle saw something different that they were into, so I did. The thing that always gets me is if the goofy kid from Alaska hadn't won, would Cheddar have come out swinging like he had the next year and dropped one of the ballsiest urban segments at the time? Would Clayton have joined Level 1 and left Stept? I mean Clayton is a huge part of Stept, what would they be today? Most of all Karl, I mean fuck I'm the biggest Karl fan on earth, would he have had the same scrappy as fuck attitude and clawed his way to the top of the ski world? I don't know any of that, but it really makes you think what me winning did to the ski world. It was the first time someone doing different shit got a shot in one of the major movies, I'll always be proud of that, and be forever grateful to Josh, Freedle and Kyle for giving me the opportunity.
As far as being washed up, I had one goal when I won Superunknown, which was to film a whole segment. Out of all of the Superunknown winners only CVans and Tom had done that (at the time, since then LSM has joined), so that's some pretty good company if you ask me. I may have not done it the flashy way with big spins and huge drops, but I did it the way that I wanted to and I'm happy with that. I watched Forward so many times in high school that the DVD doesn't even work anymore, so the fact that I even got to join the ranks of people like DC, Liam, Steele, Derek Finn and Emil is fucking nuts. I mean I idolized those guys.
Do you think you’ll leave a legacy as a skier? What will it be? Do you even care?
I don't know, I guess I'd like to think that kids like watching me ski because I generally do things a little differently, but not so far off on the creative tangent that it gets weird. I like to think that I'm a nice middle man. But on a personal level I hope that people might be less afraid to speak their minds. I got so stoked after I ranted about Margetts when I saw Nate Abbott and Rogge put up rants shortly thereafter. I'm just sick of people thinking they can't be genuine and succeed in this industry. But if people start to forget my name, that won't bother me at all either. I never did any of this for them; I did it to advance my own growth and to push the limits of my own imagination. After it's all said and done, I can sit down with my grandkids and say "Hey, look what grandpa used to do. But don't use that kind of language."
Quoting you in the donator’s forum: “I'm not discounting pulling a Brett Favre.”
What are the odds that we’ll see another video part in the future?
I meant just that, I'm not counting it out. I don't know, maybe I'll get bored in a few years designing skis and want to film again, crazier shit has happened. And the awesome part is, all I will have to make is a phone call. I'm never going to act like I'm the most talented skier in the world, I just have the ability to out-think people haha, so getting back into it wouldn't be too hard.
What is next for your life? Are you going to stick around the industry? Focusing on building skis?
Hopefully I'll land a job designing skis. If I can't, then I will go back to Heavy Civil Engineering or Project Management and continue to advance my tooling and knowledge on ski building in my spare time. Eventually though I will design and prototype skis full time, that's what I want to do and I'm too stubborn to do anything else.
Are you going to stick around on Newschoolers?
Of course, it's one of my favorite ways to waste time. Maybe I can even get Mousseau to change my name back to blue so you douche bags stop calling me out haha.
If you could go back and tell your young self any piece of advice, what would that be?
Haha, don't drink so much. Seriously. But in skiing, I'd tell myself to be more confident in my abilities. Josh gave me a couple shots my first couple years to get out and heli and I skied really timidly. I just wasn't a confident person at the time, both on and off skis. That translated into me not getting invited on heli trips anymore, understandably. It was funny, Cody Townsend came to Alaska to ski one time and I met up with him at Alyeska and after a few rips down Christmas Chute he told me that he had no idea I did more than jibbing. I guess that's always the image I put off though, but it would have been nice to put out a more well rounded segment. To be honest, this year was the first one where I actually felt completely confident, and that made it way easier to ski. It also made it way easier to make the decision to walk away from filming.
Advice for anyone else trying to ‘make it’ in the ski world?
Yeah, be genuine and don't bullshit people. This industry is way too small, and everyone hears about everything in one way or another. Obviously if you're talented enough people will notice the skiing, but so many really good skiers have really shitty attitudes and people pick up on that. This part is cliché, but I always tell it to everyone that asks me how to make it: Work hard and don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something.
And a couple final thank yous from Logan:
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank every single person who has helped me along the way. I know I'll forget someone but I'll try: Josh Berman, Kyle Decker, Freedle Coty, Chad Buckridge, Johnny Atencio, Tony McWilliam, Jimbo Morgan, Anthony Boronowski, Mike Schneider, Cody Townsend, Tristan Queen, Josh Malczyk, Chris Adams, Ronnie Tambourine, Mikie Kristzal, Casey Hakansson, Mike Rogge, Jason Mousseau, Josh Walker, Gabe Anderson, Keri Herman, Jeff Cricco, Kevin Kruse, Erik Seo, Jake Strassman, Matt Wild, Travis Reid, Nate Abbott, Johnny Stifter, Sam Shaheen, Ryan Hackbarth, Annie Danko, Elyse Saugstad, Sandy Imlach, every member on Newschoolers that has ever hated on my shit, and most of all Kelly Carr for always having my back no matter what crazy ass idea I come up with.