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Living Large

The culture of extreme skiers



Page 10 of 10

"I do a lot of my riding with skiers. When you’re in the backcountry each discipline works off each other."

In fact his next trip is to Bella Coola to ride the big mountains of the B.C. Coast, with skier Jen Ashton. They will be shooting a promotional film. He doesn’t mind riding for the cameras, although he admits: "sometimes when athletes get in front of cameras they tend to do things outside of their abilities."

The promo film in question is for one of his sponsors, and I ask if it’s true that snowboarders have been the recipients of more corporate largesse than their skiing cousins.

"Maybe for guys in the park playing around on the pipe, that’s where I’d be if I was in it for the money," he says.

But being in the park is not where he wants to be. Like J.D. Hare and many others, it is the beauty and solitude of the mountains and sharing it with a select group of friends that is at the core of the experience.

While writing this piece I asked the subjects that I interviewed again and again why they do what they do. To the outside observer (like myself) it would seem at first glance that they are all obsessed adrenaline junkies who will stop at nothing but their own self destruction. They admit that it is hardly lucrative and that it puts a strain on their relationships. So why do it?

One answer may be: because they have the ability to do it.

For instance, no one questions why an Indy car driver does what he does, but racing cars at the highest level can lead to a certain amount of fame and fortune, so the risks are deemed acceptable. Although I’m fairly certain that if you asked a race car driver why he became involved in the sport, he would probably say: because he loved it and had the ability to do it.

Anyone can be a daredevil, but to do a sport like extreme skiing and snowboarding (in all its various disciplines) and to do it well and consistently at the highest level takes much more than just a daredevil mentality.