Featured Image: Eric Parker
A staple in the freeski world for well over a decade, Tim McChesney first stomped onto the ski scene filming with 4bi9 and Level 1 putting out gritty urban segments. Since then, McChesney has made a name for himself dominating everything from the streets to slopestyle competitions, and now his bread and butter lies in the backcountry throwing dub 10s in high-consequence terrain. While there are plenty of great skiers on this planet, there are very few who can finesse every segment of the sport with such understated style. In the wake of the release of Faction’s latest film ROOTS, we caught up with the quiet killer to talk filming, a new venture with Oyuki and what he has up his sleeve for the coming season. Keep reading for the Q&A, below.
PHOTO: Eric Parker
What was your favorite memory from filming for Faction’s ROOTS last season?
I only did one trip but we had a couple days up in Wyoming in February and we got caught in this crazy storm cycle. It just kept snowing and snowing and snowing. I was up there with Blake Wilson and Duncan Adams and we had two or three days of some of the deepest snow we’ve ever skied and it was almost hard to film in but so fun to ski. We had such a good time skiing really deep snow up in Wyoming.
Were there any unique challenges to filming last season that you hadn’t experienced before, whether it was due to COVID restrictions or avalanche conditions?
We definitely had some scary avalanche conditions in the beginning of the season and when we were out we saw quite a bit of avalanche activity going on, which is pretty scary and kept us off a lot of stuff that we had in mind but eventually those conditions settled down, we returned and got on some bigger faces.
As far as COVID goes, we usually do most of our filming with Etienne Merel, who has worked with Faction for several years and is out of France but due to COVID he couldn’t come over and film with us so we ended up hiring some other filmers—Jasper Newton, especially, who really helped us out huge. So that was different, we usually work with Etienne for all of our projects but with the borders shut that wasn’t an option.
PHOTO: Eric Parker
Aside from your own, what was your favorite segment from ROOTS? Why?
I really liked the girls segment, they’re really pushing it. They’re all so talented and Faction has such a strong girls team so it’s cool to see them get on the film side of things. Most of them are competition skiers, so it’s always cool when they get to do a film segment. I also really liked the Ruka park segment as well, it was shot at night and Ruka always looks really cool.
How do you keep yourself sane while waiting for the snow to fall?
Luckily Alta’s been open for a while. We got some snow mid-October, so I’ve gotten to do some skiing, actually, and had a good start to early season. Then it kind of slowed down. I’ve been doing some mountain biking and running trying to get in shape for the season and then getting up and spinning laps whenever I can.
Go-to early season run at Alta?
It’s always fun trying to get up on Main Chute early in the year. Usually we get a big October dump the past couple years so it actually fills in really well. That’s definitely a good early season, kind of a classic and fun one to get on early in the year.
You recently announced your partnership with Oyuki in developing outerwear. How did this joint venture come about?
I’m really stoked on the Oyuki outerwear program. They reached out to me a couple months ago and told me they were trying to produce an outerwear line and they wanted to bring me on. It kind of worked out perfect for me, I was looking for a different outerwear sponsor, so I was very happy to get the opportunity. We’re testing all of this year and then coming out with a full line next fall. It’s sweet that they brought me on as a product tester this whole year to try to create a product that we’re both happy with. They’re super into me giving them feedback and getting everything dialed before next fall. I’m really looking forward to it, I just got my samples a couple weeks ago and I’m very stoked on the design so far.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Tim McChesney
How much of a hand will you have in designing and developing Oyuki’s outerwear line?
Right now I’m just testing—running it through the paces to see how it does in the snow and everything. My main reason for wanting to sign with them is that they want feedback from their athletes and actually listen to them and make changes based on what I’m looking for in the outerwear. It’s a little smaller company and I feel like a part of the brand, not just an athlete, and that’s what really attracted me to it.
Why do you think Oyuki is poised to succeed in the outerwear sector of the industry?
They’re based in Japan, which gets more snow than anywhere, so you know if it’s going to work out there it’s going to work everywhere.
What are the key features you look for in ski outerwear?
As I get older and ski more in the backcountry, it’s really about being able to be out there the whole day and stay dry and comfortable. That’s really what’s most important for me, the waterproofness, the durability—because, I mean, we’re skiing so much and you don’t want your outerwear ripping or anything like that, you want it to hold up for a long time. Mostly for me it’s about the quality and fit. Of course the design and colors and everything come into play but most importantly I need durability, waterproofness and comfort for long days in the backcountry.
Do you have a favorite apres drink or snack?
I love ramen after skiing, that’s definitely my favorite. I eat way too much ramen when I’m here in Utah. There’s just something about a warm bowl of ramen that can’t be beat.
What’s playing in your headphones when you’re crushing early-season hot laps? Does the music change when you’re filming?
I actually don’t listen to any music when I ski anymore. I used to back when I skied in the park more often but nowadays I don’t do any headphones or music while I’m skiing. In the car on the way up to the hill I listen to podcasts mostly.
PHOTO: Eric Parker
A piece of advice a mentor gave you that you still live by today?
I don’t know if anyone has ever told me this, but I always try to have fun skiing—don’t get too serious and worked up. I definitely have a problem with that, but you gotta remember why everyone’s out there. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and but you just gotta remember that we’re all out there to have fun. At the end of the day, wipe off whatever went wrong and move on to the next day and try to enjoy your time out there in the mountains.
What does your ideal ski day look like, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed?
Depends on where I’m at but if I’m home I’m a big fan of waking up super early on a powder day—I kind of get anxiety about it and get up too early usually [laughs]. I love getting up to the mountain early, get a nice parking spot—because you know everyone in Utah is trying to rush up there. But it’s hard to beat crushing laps on a pow day up at Alta. Definitely the first couple months of the season, it’s a great way to get your legs back underneath you. So yeah, ski powder all day and then hopefully come down and get a bowl of ramen somewhere.
Any set plans for this season that you’re excited about?
I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to be doing all season. I was hoping to get over to Japan to do some outerwear testing but that’s not looking promising. Everything is still kind of up in the air but I’m hoping to get stuff dialed in the next couple weeks.