We linked up with our boy Lupe to talk about Real Ski, his roots and social media's influence on the prospects of professional film skiers.
Competing in X Games Real Ski has been your goal since street skiing's debut in 2016. How does it feel to finally get the opportunity to compete with some of the best street skiers in the world? And how did you find out?
I am really grateful for the opportunity. To ski in an X Games event is a childhood dream come true. To be chosen for Real Ski is a huge honor and personal achievement. Actually, I was surfing on the Oregon coast this past fall with LJ Strenio, who happens to be a Real Ski judge. The morning we linked up to surf he had a call with the organizers and judges of Real Ski. He surprised me after a morning surf session and dropped the news to me that I got an invite.
Skiing is your life. Where and how did it all begin? Tell us a bit about your roots.
Skiing started out as a family activity I did with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and other family and friends. It was something that was really fun to do and brought people I really care about together. I was learning how to ski in Vermont at a very young age, basically had skis on my feet before I could walk. Around 2013/14 I got into park skiing and from there it took over my life. Everything I did and thought about was for skiing. I grew up on the East Coast of the United States, skiing at Ski Sundown and Carinthia before I moved out West. I was a typical east coast park rat growing up haha.
What and who inspired you to pursue a career in street skiing?
At first, I only wanted to get sponsored to be able to keep skiing. Gear and everything else is not cheap. I realized fast that I needed to start making something happen and work to save money to make skiing a possibility for myself. As I started learning more about ski culture, watching ski movies, and meeting people in the scene I realized I wanted to be a pro skier and make that my job and lifestyle. I was inspired by the free nature of the ski scene and ski movies especially. I like the freedom and having an outlet to express myself.
Before Real Ski was an X Games discipline, what were your goals in skiing? Is Real Ski just the cherry on the top?
My goals with skiing were to film with a professional production company and put out segments that will be timeless or watched in years to come. I wanted so badly to film for ski movies or link up with established crews in the industry. When I was younger it was a goal to make skiing my full-time job and get to travel the world skiing. I also dreamed of having a pro model ski. X Games was definitely a dream when I was younger but once I stopped competing I let go of that idea. When I saw Real Ski become a thing, I really wanted an invite. I'm so stoked to have finally made it happen, the past years leading up to this have been crazy.
What effect has social media had on the career prospects of professional film skiers?
I think social media, specifically Instagram is a great opportunity for kids to get recognition and create a following. I'm all for people getting theirs and taking advantage of the current resources available. With that being said I also think it has really hurt the film side of skiing. You see less and less of people or crews putting out full movies and parts. Which in my opinion holds the most weight. I think until people try to go out and film a segment or a project they really have no idea how much work it takes. Anyone can go to a perfect park and film some Insta clips on an iPhone. Going to the streets or backcountry is where you really test your skills and prove yourself. I think it would be cool to see people putting more focus on film projects or segments. It's very special putting your heart and soul into something over a period of time and then seeing all the hard work come together at the end. Instagram is a great example of instant gratification. Most times you see crazy stuff once or twice on Instagram and then it's forgotten. I grew up re-watching ski movies over and over memorizing every detail. It would be awesome to see the industry move back in the direction of putting value in working on long-term projects vs. just putting out park clips on Instagram. In my opinion, being just an Instagram skier is weak.
How was it working with one of your closest friends, Owen Dalberg, and what did he bring to the mix?
It was a no-brainer to ask Owen to film my Real Ski. We have been working towards this for the past few years. Owen is extremely hard working, a great friend, and a talented filmer/editor. I've worked with him the past few winters and we have really gotten a workflow down. We know each other well and have a lot of fun together doing what we do.
Over the last four years Real Ski has presented us with some of the most progressive and creative street skiing in history. But, if you could pick one segment, which would be your favourite?
Phil Casabon's first Real Ski segment is my favorite, no doubt. He is one of, if not my favorite skier. His style is unparalleled and the spot selection is so on point. It truly is a masterpiece. On top of Phil's skiing, Brady Perron is the best filmer and editor in the game. They are an incredible example of a filmer/skier duo that really complement and work well together. They are a lethal combination.
To the everyday skier, street skiing is the least relatable discipline. Why is street skiing so rewarding and what factors make it more difficult?
It's incredible to be in an area where skiing is not normally done and find cool new ways to leave your mark. Having a vision in your head and being able to make it a reality with your friends is a great feeling. The amount of work it takes to get a 5-9 second clip seems crazy sometimes, but to me, stacking a shot is one of the best feelings in the world. Having to build your own features and getting kicked out are factors you never have to deal with in a park. Also, concrete is not soft. When you can find a feature in a city and get away with building it and skiing on it, it is very special.
How did you manage the pressure of pushing your limits for Real Ski, while also keeping healthy in order to finish your video?
My goal was to ski smart and trust the process. I really try to think everything through at a spot. What could go wrong? How I can react if things go wrong? And, what I need to do to get the shot? I try to be very focused, believe in myself, and not force things if something feels off.
You spent a lot of time chasing snow around the US at the beginning of the season. What were the biggest struggles of life on the road?
Being on the road in general wears you down, in a month we drove over 7000 miles. Constantly driving, shoveling a lot of snow and hitting big spots takes its toll, mentally and physically. While on the east coast we were moving around every few days chasing snow, because of rain or temps warming up. Once we got in the midwest we were in more consistent snow which can really take some pressure off. Not having to worry about enough snow and just focusing on skiing is nice.
You’ve fulfilled your career ambition of a Real Ski invite. What’s next?
I am working on a documentary that will give people an insight into my life story, coming up in the ski world, and some obstacles I overcame to become a professional skier and achieve my dreams.