You might have noticed there's a Grand Prix going on at Mammoth this weekend, i's certainly clogging up my Instagram feed. What you might not know is that Andy Parry is taking his competition circuit, and the Tell A Friend Tour in general, to the midwest this weekend too. The first stop on that leg of the tour and the midwest contest will be held at Chestnut Mountain with comp day being Sunday. I'm a big fan of the idea behind these contests and I discussed the concept with Andy about a month ago. So I wanted to check back in and see how he thought the first comp went, and what you can expect when you turn up this weekend.
What's up Andy, can you break down how the first Tell A Friend Tour Competition went from your perspective?
Jeff Curry really did an excellent job as the head auditor. He was a fair as you can be in a subjective thing like skiing. He also decided to split up the final prize money at the end between people instead of giving all to one person. Basically he went with his gut and I trust him completely so it all worked out. He is also quick and absolute when he is making decisions so no time is wasted and the verdict is final.
We had a big mix of skill levels and at first I was a bit unsure how to accommodate everyone. I don't want to leave younger less skilled people out of the comp so we ended up splitting off at one point to have some grom jams. Putting kids the same skill level with each other together gave them a bit more confidence to try tricks. One thing I have learned over the years is how shy kids are. They get intimidated and won't ski, so I try my best to make it a fun loose atmosphere and push theses kids individually. If I noticed someone isn't skiing I go up to them and talk with them and find out how I can get them to try a new trick.
What can those who show up expect from the event?
Expect that I will be pushing you if you're not pushing your self. I'm not forcing anyone to do anything but I'm cultivating an environment that is conducive to progression. Also expect to do a shit ton of hiking and skiing. We don't have a start gate or runs, so you won't be sitting around you will be skiing. More than anything, expect to have a good time and meet new people. And to ski... a lot.
Why take on comps at all? It seems so far removed from how you ski.
All of the people I grew up skiing with did comps. They weren't like now though. No USSA or USASA or any of that bullshit. It was local comps with cash that we would drive six hours for. You get five friends in the car and split a shit hotel room and then we'd ski our little hearts out. I gained so much from the experience, I got a taste of traveling, close friendships, that pressure you get in comps that helps you ski your best. Kids these days aren't getting the benefit from comps, even on the rare occasions they can find them at all without being a member of some expensive club. I want to bring that back.
I want those who take part to get tangible rewards: cash, exposure, friends and actual promotion in the industry, not just a pat on the back from a coach and some worthless points towards a ranking. I want to create the conditions where the people going to TAFT and these comps grow a passion for skiing, continue to love skiing and don't just quit when they go to college like every other organized sport.
If we're going to do contests, and they are pretty much a necessary part of skiing one way or another, lets do them right. At the high end that means showing off the diversity in skiing, not confining people to a set format week on week, not making it impossible for new guys to break through. My personal instinct is baby steps are being taken with improvements in judging criteria and courses but there is a long way to go to make these things accessible.
At the grassroots level, where TAFT comps are currently almost the only 'free' option, that means making sure that those travelling for hours are actually rewarded with an enjoyable experience. That they actually get to ski for more than practice and two runs, actually meet new people and make friends. Those are the things that Andy is bringing to the table and in my mind at least, he deserves support for that. We're doing our best. Our sales guys, Travis and David, spend massive amounts of their time landing the sponsors to fund this thing and helping Andy put it together. But if you, the readers, like the basic idea, then make the drive to Chestnut to check it out. If you can't, share the content surrounding this to promote awareness so that it can grow. This is just the beginning, the vision is to make this 10+ stops a winter, but to do that it will need your support.