Tom Wallisch is arguably Newschoolers' prodigal son, a long-time community member turned super-pro. He's now moving on from 'just' being one of the best skiers on the planet to become a real voice in the ski community, commentating, judging and standing up for freeskiing's roots. He returned to the forums yesterday to answer questions from our members, in what is the first in a series of Ask Me Anything interviews with our community. Here's what he had to say...
On growing up:
@TOAST. - I'm curious to know what your REAL home mountain is? 7Springs seems to claim it pretty hard but I'm pretty sure its Wisp.
Both. I grew up in Pittsburgh. Skiing at both resorts. Back then I would spend weekends at Wisp. And visit Springs for night shred maybe once a week. I now only come home to go shred at Seven Springs because they support park skiing. Wisp couldn't care less about it. It's so cool to me to see the $$ Seven Springs puts into the parks/pipes and events like Steel City Showdown with me! They truly are a big supporter of park skiing/snowboarding in the east!
Tom at 'home' at 7 Springs. Photo: Shay Lee
@CatdickBojangles - Favorite memory of skiing at the Wisp back in the day?
Just lapping rails and learning tricks with a good crew. I spent every hour of every weekend with Warnick and our local crew trying to learn tricks. I miss those days.
@EnderKnock - I literally made an account for this! At what age did you know that you loved skiing and that it was what you wanted to do and excel at for the rest of your life?
Dope! Welcome! I knew by 14-15 that I loved skiing more than anything and that I wanted to become a pro skier! And at that point becoming a pro seemed very far fetched so the dream was to at least work within the ski industry for my life!
@calvinaj - Why did you continue to work toward a college degree in the midst of your skiing career? How did you have time for that and why was that important to you?
I started college before becoming a pro skier. All my friends were in school at the U of U. It just seemed right to continue my education. I took classes in the summer and fall so that I could still focus on skiing all winter. Education has always been important to me. Only so many years you can ski professionally and lots to learn to improve your life during and post-ski career
On his career:
@CHU-TANG_CLAN - When you were working on your SuperUnknown entry back a while ago, did you work side by side with any of the 4bi9 crew to edit it/ had a vision of what you wanted it to look like? Or did you let them work their magic to create an edit that I would say created a real skiing story?
I definitely worked side by side with Napes and Aj on that one. I had the goal of filming a super unknown edit but they helped so much on the songs, style, etc. It was so much fun filming that season!
You know you're going to watch this now that it's here...
@CHU-TANG_CLAN - What was one of the most memorable big park shoots you ever participated in?
Most memorable was probably the Copper Shoot with Level 1 for RealTime. It was my first big experience at a sunset shoot and I skied sooo much trying to get shots for the movie
@fredyferl - What's your favorite part and favorite park edit you've filmed?
My favorite part to film was probably The Wallisch Project, just because I finally got to put all my effort from a season in one full part. And it's tough with favorite park edit... filming the original 4bi9 edits with my best friends probably. So Far So Hood, Look it up, Superunknown etc.
@gravel - Which year of your career so far are you most proud of and why?
Hmm, 2012-2013 was a big one. I filmed for the Wallisch Project all year, filmed with JP for Sherpas "Into the Mind", and still managed to compete in every major event. It was a crazy busy and productive year but some of the best times of my life
@Youngm_IPCME - Did you ever consider doing something dumb just to see how many kids would copy you?
Ha, I considered it but never committed to anything too dumb. (I don't think ha)
On ski stunts:
@AlmostCooler - What was the hardest trick to commit to for the first time? First back/double? What age were you at for that send?
First back[flip] for sure. Committing to going straight over for the first time was tough. I tried it at like 13.
@little1337 - What do you think is the scariest trick to do?
Probably trying my first triples... but honestly, I'm not a big front flip guy, so the first double front was pretty damn scary
Tom's favorite part, from his favorite year, featuring his first triples
@dan38 - Your worst crash of all time?
Actually non-ski related. Mountain biking crash, over the handlebars at 40mph+ to a broken neck. Don't recommend it.
@Youngm_IPCME - Flat 5 vs rodeo 5. Which is it? This way we can have a definitive end to the argument.
I use both terms. For the most part, they are definitely one and the same. I consider a rodeo to be more flippy and to the side with flat being more upright and around. There's definitely too much terminology for what is a pretty basic trick.
@gravel - What would you like to see more of in skiing?
I'd still love to see more skiers hitting urban. So many kids just film park rails and it would be awesome to see more urban segments and kids out there getting it in the streets
@skiP.E.I. - You are killing it at the event commentary. How did that start for you? Was it ever something you thought about while you were competing? What's it like to be in the commentator's booth vs. on course as an athlete?
Thank you! I just stumbled into it at X Games one year. I've thought about getting into it for years just to help events actually get all the trick calls correct haha. I like being in the booth to stay involved with all the events but definitely enjoyed being on the course as an athlete more. It is nice to have no pressure now and not risk my body every event though.
@skiP.E.I. - Will there be more events like Steel City showdown?
I hope hope hope! I would love to be involved with more events like Steel City. It was so cool to be a part of and bring to life. Skiing needs way more events like this, rail events, events for the athletes, fun events, non-FIS events, just new and exciting stuff.
@skiP.E.I. - Do you have plans to film more big urban parts, a la Romance? What about backcountry?
Hopefully more urban segments and definitely way more backcountry! I had so much fun filming Cruise Control last year and plan to film a lot more pow but still hit the streets. Rails are still the most fun aspect of skiing to me surprisingly. I grew up on that stuff.
@NewEscuelers - After getting Simon back for an incredible throwback edit, do you think it’s possible you could possibly mastermind throwback edit with skiers like Simon, Brogan, Henrik, Hornbeck, Delorme, etc.?? Could be the greatest thing to happen in the community ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That sounds like an epic crew to get together! It was really fun skiing with Simon again. Hopefully, we can make a few more fun edits. I'll work on getting more of the old crew together as well! I miss making park edits. Everyone just drops clips on the 'gram these days, but its fun to put a few days into an edit, have a theme, and do something unique. Let's bring it back!
And most importantly:
@radsauce - If you had to choose, would you battle... A) One 10 ft tall Miley Cyrus OR B) Ten 1 ft tall Miley Cyrii? Please explain your thinking and yes, they have wrecking balls.
B) Ten 1 ft Tall Miley Cyrii sound a bit easier to handle. Though ten little wrecking balls would probably be wrecking my shin bones while I battle them.