Hometown: Alta, UT
Sponsors: Salomon, Smith, Backcountry.com, Levitation Project, Joystick
On Film: Superheroes of Stoke_MSP, Salomon Freeski TV_Switchback
Profile by Tess Weaver.
Leo Ahrens and his Little Cottonwood posse are some of the best skiers in Utah. He’s put his time in—he lived with his parents at the base of Alta for the first three months of his life and was in ski school at age 2. At age 19, he’s got the travel bug. He bought a truck last year and in the first three months, put 10,000 miles on it. One of the places he traveled to was Chatter Creek, BC, where Ahrens filmed a segment you can see in MSP’s latest release, Superheroes of Stoke.
How was filming with MSP last season? I went to Chatter Creek for two weeks and brought my sled. It was easily the deepest snow I’ve skied in a couple years. It was consistently dumping for two weeks. It was mind-boggling. I was with Mark Abma and Heimer [James Heim] and that was awesome. Growing up, Abma was my idol, so to finally get to film with him was just ridiculous. I grew up at Alta without a terrain park, so whenever I watched Abma ski, he was jumping like he was in a park but in natural terrain, I could relate to his skiing.
How was South America? Amazing. I was in the Santiago region of Chile. The snow kinda sucked, but it was still a lot of fun. The first couple weeks, I was with the Salomon Freeski TV crew. After they went home, I spent another month and a half hanging down there. I met some friends skiing, and they let me live in their house in Santiago. I usually travel with US friends, so being on my own, I was able to meet all these local kids. It gave me a new experience. A couple of the kids were some of the best skiers in Chile.
What was it like growing up at Alta? I was really lucky to have parents who worked up there. The mountain was my babysitter. I got to ski every day, whether it was after school or weekends.
Any filming plans this season? Hopefully, I’ll get the phone call, but my main goal is to ski with Dubsatch.
Explain Dubsatch Collective. Growing up, I was always skiing with a core group of friends. We all skied in LCC [Little Cottonwood Canyon], and that defined us as big-mountain skiers. We made a group and turned it into a film production company. It’s fun to put our effort into that and promote our skiing together. Everyone has different personalities, but we have a common love of skiing. Sam [Cohen] is addicted to rock climbing. Carston [Oliver] loves mountain biking. I love traveling and surfing. We’re in different lifestyles, but we all love the same thing.
We pretty much ski together every week—every day when we’re all home. The majority of our skiing is at home in Utah, but the core group does travel together. We went to Alaska last season. We like running our own production. We have control over the creativity behind the project. It’s cool to be able to have a lot of input in what you’re doing.
Photos by Grant Gunderson, Mt. Baker Backcountry, WA.
You just got a sled? Last year was my first year with a sled. At first, I sucked. One of my first trips with it was to Canada with guys who had been sledding forever. I was so bad. I got stuck every two seconds. I’m getting a lot better. It opens a whole new world of terrain. But I’m also super into touring. We can’t sled in LCC. Some of our favorite lines are Gargoyles and lines in Wolverine Cirque. It fully got us into the swing of hiking.
Was there a line that took you from kid to pro skier? One of the first times I realized I could have a future was in Crested Butte at the freeride contest three years ago. On the Headwall, I did a double backflip and landed somehow. I realized I could maybe compete with the adults.
Utah for life? I don’t know. I could see myself living in Utah when I’m here, in Chile when I’m there. I tend to fall in love with where I am.
Are you competing this year? I have no idea. When I’m in town and there’s a contest I’ll do it, but I’m not going to go out of my way.
How did you get into Bouldering? Everyone in our crew loves it. We can all get together, throw a pad on the ground and hang out. It started a few years ago when Andrew Pollard was on the Momentum climbing team. He got a pad, and we all went bouldering and fell in love with it. It’s just like skiing—we go on adventures all the time, climb new rocks, scope lines.
You seem to really like traveling. Growing up, I was on the Snowbird Freeride team. We started traveling for contests when I was 15. We’d go to Washington, Idaho and all over. I realized there were other awesome places beyond Utah. Three main trips defined my season last year—Canada, Alaska and Chile. Road tripping through Canada with a sled was all-time. And AK was a life changer. I’m going every year from now on. I practiced my Spanish while I was in Chile. I’ll definitely be back next summer. Some of my friends there are just as good as my friends here. For having one of the worst seasons at home, I had one of my best.
Where do you want to travel? I have yet to travel to Europe. I’d like to ski in Switzerland, France and Italy. I’d like to go to Japan.