Chris Tatsuno doesn’t mind living in a van, down by the river.

Chris Tatsuno doesn’t mind living in a van, down by the river.

Interview by Tom Winter

If you’ve ever been to a big-mountain comp in North America, you’ve probably seen Chris Tatsuno’s van parked at the base of the mountain. The former University of Colorado ski racer has been a fixture on the tour for several years, plying his trade with an infectious enthusiasm that gets everyone stoked, while living in his unmistakable vehicle. But Tatsuno is more than just a competitor. A self-described “fan of skiing,” he reports from the road in his blog at christatsuno.com, all the while soaking up as much ski-bum culture as he can. Does this make him big-mountain skiing’s honorary social anthropologist? Maybe. But one thing is for certain. If you are at a big-mountain competition this year, you’ll definitely see “Tats” and his van (TatsVan), as he embarks on another winter of skiing and reporting on the culture of the sport.

Age: 25

Home Town: Aspen/Snowmass, CO

Sponsors: Backcountry.com, Blizzard, Tecnica, Discrete, Scott USA, POC, Roaring Lion Energy Drink, Helly Hansen

Movies: Set In Motion, Two Plank Productions

How did you get into skiing?

My dad is a ski instructor and he started me off before I was two, riding around in his backpack when he was skiing. I grew up racing in Sun Valley, and then went to the University of Colorado and raced on the developmental team. I had heard about big-mountain competitions and felt that they sounded like fun, so I went to Crested Butte in 2004 and I was blown away. I didn’t even know people did that stuff, and I wanted to hang out with those guys.

Tats, shredding with the sleepy town of Aspen in the background.(Photo Credit: Tony Prikryl)

Aside from that competition, what else has influenced you?

Magazines. I couldn’t get enough of Freeze and Freeskier. The content was so far from Sun Valley, and I devoured everything I could get my hands one.

I’m also always impressed by the French style of skiing. For years the French have been known for really great style, you see that in guys like Guerlain Chicherit. Other than that, Tyson Bolduc is a good buddy, and I like the way he skis in competitions. He gets really creative with his lines, where he goes. And then there are a lot of people who may not be known. The guys on the tour who are so hungry. That lights a fire for me.

What’s up with your van?

I’ve always been a van guy. My dad used to have VW vans, and as soon as I got on the ski team in Sun Valley, we were always traveling around in vans. I grew to appreciate how much gear and people they can hold.

I bought my van at CU. And when I started competing, I camped in the van because I couldn’t afford hotels. Finally, I decided to cash in all my chips and pimped out the van. I’ve traveled probably 25,000 miles around the West.

Any particular memories about the van that stand out?

Every weekend is a new experience. Just recently at a Backcountry.com party, I picked up some buddies, and we just kept piling people in the van, mobbing through Salt Lake City, really, really stoked. I’ve made it up to Canada a few times, and when the competition season is on, the van is the perfect road trip vehicle. You can fit four or five people with gear in it.

Photo Credit: Tony Prikryl

Any advice for future van warriors?

Do it. Sack up and do it. You can get a good van for cheap these days. Go travel, be open and friendly and talk up skiing to everyone you meet on the road because without that, there’s no one sharing the sport.

How does the Chevy do with the ladies?

For chicks, it really depends upon the night. If it’s cold they are not into it. But if it is nice, they’re into it. And I did just chauffeur around a bunch of girls in the van the other night.

Photo Credit: Tony Prikryl

What are your plans for the season?

Do the whole world tour qualifier series and make it to some of the other comps, probably Red Mountain and Taos. Every year I have friends go to the Taos event and then come back and tell me how great it is.

I also want to focus on filming; I have a helmet cam, and I work with a few companies. I’ve already worked with Two Plank, but most of my footage was with Frank Shine and Blizzard. Filming is an interesting way to approach skiing, I like to consider myself a fan of the sport so it’s interesting for me to just go on shoots and watch how it goes down.

Photo Credit: Tony Prikryl

Any props or thank yous?

I want to give a shout out to my mom and dad, the ripper factory in Aspen, teamawesomeradgnar, fans and friends of ski bumming, and the Billy Poole Ski Foundation – Billy was a good friend of mine and I’m really excited about what they are hoping do with that.

Don’t forget to check out Chris’s ongoing blog at christatsuno.com!

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