Sean Pettit may be the best big-mountain skier in the world. And he's only 18 years old. The short, rambunctious Canadian is a rockstar. His wardrobe seems to consist of nothing but tight leather jackets, tight jeans, a Red Bull beanie and a skateboard that’s always at his side. He talks to friends on Facebook Chat for most of the time I’m interviewing him, answering my questions between clicks of his keyboard. He doesn’t do so rudely; it’s clear that he is professional when he needs to be. But at 18, his energy level is exhausting, and keeping him pinned in a chair focused on nothing but his life story is presumably about as interesting to him as watching an ant crawl down the street.
Sean Pettit in the Cooke City backcountry. P: Mason Mashon / MSP
Not long ago, Sean didn’t know being a pro skier was an option. He had never even heard of Tanner Hall when Tanner asked him to film for WSKI106. “Skiing was just this thing we did on the weekends,” Sean says of his childhood in Whistler, where he skied primarily with his brother, Callum, and friend, Kye Petersen. “I didn’t follow the ski scene. I didn’t know pro skiers. I didn’t even know you could have that as a job.” Today, he is one of the most popular big-mountain skiers in the world, already winning the Male Performance of the Year Award from Freeskier, Powder, and Newschoolers at 17, placing second at Red Bull’s Linecatcher (behind Candide Thovex) and amassing sponsors such as K2, Oakley and Red Bull.
Sean’s mom moved the family from Ottawa to Whistler when he was 7. “The move is why we are where we are today in skiing,” Sean says about himself and Callum. “I’m super stoked that we moved to Whistler when we did.” He spent the next four years poaching the Whistler freeskiing club, following them around Whistler Blackcomb to better learn the mountain. Then, he started sending big lines with impeccable style, and people took notice. “A lot of kids were doing the same tricks as him, but he was able to keep it tight,” says Mike Douglas.
Shockingly, he was just 11 years old when he filmed the segment with Tanner for WSKI. He attained his rst sponsors (K2 and Oakley) at the same time, and immediately started traveling the world. Now, seven years later, he has starred in half a dozen major movies, and his name is synonymous with style. It’s an incredible feat for someone so young. Sean even still needs a couple credits to graduate from high school. But when you pair his level of natural talent with his positive, fearless attitude, you can only imagine that this is just the beginning. And when your beginning is as one of the most recognized names and styles in big-mountain skiing, you are on the right path to become the future of the sport. —Matt Harvey