What happened next?
They take us in the back room after like, five hours. The hugest guy ever, big Canadian hockey player, bald, he’s like, “You guys have to sign this paper that says you can’t come into Canada for a year.” Andrew’s like, “No, I won’t sign it.” Then the guy says, “Well, you can either sign it or we’re going to arrest you.” Andrew and I are both pissed. We scribble our signatures over the whole page. Then Andrew’s like, “You’re a pretty big dude. We don’t feel like we got f—ked hard enough out there, so if you could just bend us over in this private room, give it to us real hard, that’d be great.”
Then you had to go back through US customs?
Then we turn around and have to go back through US customs. They’re like, “Why didn’t they let you in?” Andrew says, “Drugs”. Guy’s like, “Really? What kind?” Andrew says, “Every kind. But you’re too late — sucks for you guys — the Canadians already took them all.” So they search our whole car again.
Who did you look up to back in the day when you were still a camper?
I really looked up to Steele ‘cause I had the rivalry with him and then he made it, and he always had his composure. Like at contests, I would always watch him and if he got screwed by the judges or something he’d still be smiling and having a fun time. Then when I went on the first trip with him, no matter what the conditions, Steele’s like, “I’ll try it, let’s do this.” Then Pep, he’s always super good and motivated to get stuff done. And all my coaches at High North the first year, like Julien, JP, Seth and JF. Those were all the guys I wanted to be.
I remember the first US Open that I did well in and made finals. I just hit a rail line that was like seven rails and only two jumps because I could only do two tricks: cork 7 and misty 5. I think I got fifth or sixth, but I was the only rookie in the finals. It was like, Tanner, Pep, Jon, Mickael, everybody. I was just terrified and Tanner comes up to me and is like, “Hey man, you’re skiing really good, that’s sick. Don’t be worried, it’s just another contest, just another run.” Coming from Tanner, that was huge. It relaxed me so much.
Tell me about how you came up with the Whiskey flip.
I had been doing regular flatspins down the pipe for a while and it’s a super mellow take off, super easy. After watching Jon’s kangaroo flip, it’s kind of the same thing. So I was considering this year: There are all these Ski Tours, then there are a couple slopestyle comps, so I could learn a double for slopestyle, which I kinda learned on the water ramp but I was too scared to try on snow, or I could learn in the halfpipe. I don’t know why I chose the halfpipe one ‘cause that’s sketchy. So it was super sunny and nice at Breck one day. Not soft, but sunny. Did some flat spins; made sure I was ten feet high. It sucks ‘cause it’s not a trick I could do five feet out; the bigger I got, the easier it would be. The first one I tried, I made sure I wasn’t going to land on the deck and I popped almost to flat bottom and it was totally a flat spin, came around pretty nice. I was shaking after, more scared after than before — so much adrenaline. The first one that Jon Olsson saw me do was the first one I landed and probably the best one I landed all year and he’s like, “I quit halfpipe. I just quit.” And I think he actually did quit halfpipe that day.
What’s going through your head as you’re getting ready to drop in to the pipe, knowing you’re about to do a massive double flip?
I used to like to f—k around and be really loose; jump around with music. Now I take a couple deep breaths and think about the one I did before it and what I did wrong on that. As I’m airing into the drop, all I’m thinking is “rotate a little farther, rotate a little farther” or “don’t pop so hard, don’t pop so hard.” Then from there to the take off it just happens.
Was this your best contest year ever?
It’s probably the one I needed the most. My dad said it redefined me as a skier. But maybe my breakout year was my best because no one had ever heard of me. There was no pressure on me, and I qualified for X Games with second in slopestyle and third in pipe. Then a week later I got second in slopestyle and third in pipe at X Games. But this year I think I worked the hardest and got the most accomplished in the big contests.
What was it like standing on the podium once again at the X Games?
I think standing on the podium this year for X Games was almost better than the first time. The first time was amazing because I didn’t expect it at all. This year I needed it so bad and to be up there with Simon, who’s one of my best friends, was super good. I had my whole entourage from Boulder there, too. Probably 35 or 40 of my friends were just so stoked and my mom was crying and it was pretty awesome.
After being on Salomon for so long, you are now without a ski sponsor?
I think I’ve been on Salomon for seven years, since I started getting free product back in the day. In the beginning I hated it and I only stayed with them because I thought their skis were super good. They treated me horribly; I’d get two pairs of skis a year. It was when I was filming parts with Poor Boyz, all my skis would be de-laminated and broken and I’d have to beg for skis and they’d think I was selling them.
One year I finally stepped it up — the year I did well in the X Games — and they gave me new skis. They figured their stuff out and it became like a family. Me, Simon, Sammy and even Charles… you know, hanging out a bunch and having fun everywhere we go. This past year they stopped asking for our opinions as much and things kinda fell apart. We’d go to the US Open and get hotel rooms but it was super hard to get in touch with the team managers because they were doing so much with the grommets, the 50 kids that Salomon gives stuff to. From there it kind of went downhill. They are having a big move, and I know they’re super busy, but they’re just lost and have less direction toward us. Now this winter I will be riding for a different ski company, to give some new direction somewhere else, and see how that goes.
How are you feeling about it?
It’s super weird because I felt like a part of a family and now I’m on my own figuring stuff out. All the companies had a pretty bad year because of the snow, so not that many companies have enough money to just pick someone like me up. I’ve been running into a lot of problems that way. I think it’ll be alright, but I’m kinda stressed.
What about this upcoming season? What are you excited about?
I’m super excited about halfpipe. I learned a bunch in the halfpipe last year, not just tricks, but got super comfortable in it. So stuff doesn’t scare me and I’m excited to train a bunch of pipe in New Zealand and early season and try and give Simon a run for his money. X Games is still at my home mountain so I can train that pipe all year. Super stoked on trying to get some doubles in the park done. I tried a bunch in Whistler and got smoked on them. First try, you can’t expect much but to land on your head, so we’ll see.