This article originally appears in the February 2011 issue of Freeskier Magazine. We're giving you a sneak peak in honor of Chris who celebrates his birthday today, January 4th. For more from this issue, be sure to pick up a copy at your local newsstand.
Skiing's Renaissance Man
The Veteran Skier, Filmmaker, Author and TV Host May Also Be The Future Of Skiing.
Words By Patrick Crawford
If you want to see the future of skiing, maybe you should look at one of the industry’s longest-standing heroes instead of the newest kid coming out of the park. Chris Davenport, yes that Chris Davenport, could represent skiing’s next big thing.
The reason we know Dav’s exploits so well is partially because his ski mountaineering feats are worthy of admiration, and partly because he’s a successful media force in his own right. In the
last few years, Chris has published two books, produced his own film and built a robust social media following that includes over 3,500 Twitter followers and 8,000 friends between his personal and professional Facebook pages. And that’s not mentioning the skiing, which incidentally he’s also pretty good at. Davenport’s success at blending the roles of athlete and media producer may well be the future for today’s skiers.
Dav calls media production “a necessary component of being a successful athlete these days. There are people who will hate on you for being so out there, Facebooking and Tweeting about what you’re doing, but as a professional athlete and skier, I have to do that stuff. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love the mountains or love what I do as much as the next guy, because if I’m out flying under the radar doing all this stuff, it’s not very effective is it?”
Of course, Davenport’s media efforts are only as effective as the quality of his product. And right now he’s knocking it out of the park. His new film, Australis, is an epic adventure in which he leads a team including Stian Hagen and Andrea Binning on a human-powered ski mountaineering adventure to Antarctica. The title, Australis, is the name of the boat the team chartered to sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, through the Drake Passage to Antarctica. The 57-minute film is a total departure from usual ski-porn fare. The ski action complements a compelling story about a small team pioneering new ski routes from the deck of a boat in Antarctica. The cinematography is stunning and the obvious thrill of the adventure permeates the film.
Dav served as Australis’s executive producer and project leader, a heavy load that made notching sometimes-dicey first descents in Antarctica the easy part. “The skiing is a relief, because that’s what we do best,” he says. “But I really enjoy the
logistics part as well. I think I’m a professional traveler as much as I’m a professional skier. For 15 years, I’ve been traveling around the world, and I’m pretty darn good at it. I enjoy putting together big trips, planning the logistics and making sure everything is accurate and taken care of, that nothing is forgotten and the trip runs smoothly. I like the dynamic of being the team leader, bringing everyone together. That’s very rewarding, especially when you get down there and you have a great trip.”
Also this fall, Dav published a book along with fellow Aspenites Penn Newhard and Art Burrows titled Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America. The coffee table book features spectacular photos of the biggest, best and most classic lines on the continent, plus interviews with 14 living legends of North American ski mountaineering, a group that includes Davenport, Glen Plake, Kevin Quinn, Lou Dawson, Eric Pehota and Andrew McLean. Even at $60, it’s a must-have for aficionados of ski mountaineering.
Even after a banger few years like he’s had, Chris continues to challenge himself. He’s in the process of relaunching his website (chrisdavenport.com) to bring both his major media projects and all his social media into a single space.
“The bottom line is that I’m trying to keep my career alive and stay at the top of the game as long as I can. I don’t really want to do anything else besides be a skier. I really enjoy it. You gotta take big steps to ensure that you have longevity.”
Maybe skiing’s next big thing has actually been around for two decades.