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[Q&A] Life in the fast lane with Parkin Costain

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[Q&A] Life in the fast lane with Parkin Costain

Parkin Costain is becoming a household name. Or maybe he already is. Either way, it’s about time you take note. The Montana-native’s rise in the industry began as a 15-year-old, winning Teton Gravity Research’s annual Grom Contest in 2015 with a rowdy entry showcasing his big-mountain and freeride prowess. But that was just the beginning. Two years later, in 2017, Costain earned top honors at Quiksilver’s Young Guns ski contest—another comp designed to showcase the best up-and-comers in the sport. Since then, he’s won Jackson Hole’s athlete-judged Kings and Queens of Corbet’s competition, received invitations to film with TGR, garnered a slew of sponsors and found a home-away-from-home at SEABA Heli in Haines, Alaska. This fall, we put a line out to Parkin as he made his way from the Utah Avalanche Center’s annual fundraiser in Salt Lake City to Jackson for the premiere of TGR’s “Stoke the Fire” to get the scoop on what it’s like to live life in the fast lane.


You’ve had the chance to film with TGR for a few years now.
What was it like getting the call up?

Getting that first call is something I’ll never forget. I’d been trying my whole life to get the stars to align. It was such a rewarding feeling to officially film with the crew for “Far Out.” On my first shoot I was just along for the ride—they came to me with a fully planned trip and I was just hyped to be a part of it. Last year was different though, we were filming in Montana and I got to take the crew out and show them around some of my favorite zones. I think that trip produced one of my best segments to-date. 

Who are your biggest ski/athlete inspirations?

Sammy [Carlson], Tanner [Hall] and Candide [Thovex] are legendary influences, but this past season I couldn’t help but get hyped whenever the power couple, Cole Richardson and Sam Kuch, dropped one of their clips on social. Now that the borders are back open, I look forward to linking with those dudes soon.

You’re an ambassador for Moonlight Basin—what’s the scene like over there?

Back in 2017, after winning the Quiksilver Young Guns ski contest, the management of my hometown resort [in Whitefish] was giving me a lot of shit for the type of skiing I was doing. I had a couple clips from that season start to go viral, including a Candide-style chairlift jump. It got so bad the management said they never wanted me to ski there again… ha! That spring, I was shredding over at Moonlight and they got in touch with me. Everyone there expects some general badassery [in skiing]. The resort lends itself perfectly to the type of riding I’m into—some of the most fun I’ve ever had in-bounds is lapping line-after-line on the Headwaters.

How would you describe your riding style?  

I’ve always felt comfortable skiing fast in bigger terrain… I could be sitting on top of the biggest line I’ve ever skied but still be more intimidated trying a new trick off a cheese wedge. Last season, I started to seek out smaller lines that let me incorporate more freestyle throughout, and had a great time. I’m excited to make it back to BC early this winter and expand the bag of tricks. Then, as the season progresses, start standing back on taller peaks.

When you approach a new zone, what kinds of thoughts run through your head? 

I never head out for the day without checking the latest avalanche report and nearest Snotel site, then the crew and I come up with a game plan of what we want to get done and how we can be the most productive on the given day. From the athletes helping carry camera gear, to staging the crew in safe areas if things go awry, we’ve always got each other’s backs. On our way to the zone, I’ll keep an eye out for different snow textures and signs of what the mountains have been up to before our arrival. You can learn a lot about what you’ll find on-slope before you even get there. Finally, we scope our lines, dig a snow pit on the same aspect we’re about to ski and study every detail; if everything checks out, it’s game time! There’s a ton that goes into it, but the reward is well worth it. 

SKIER: Parkin Costain
PHOTO: Jonathan Finch

What’s your mindset like right before you drop?

I’ve always been extremely focused. Not on purpose—I’m still having fun—that’s just me trying to be as calculated as possible. If something doesn’t feel quite right or I can’t envision it in my head, I’m not one to just send it anyway. I’d say the loosest I ever get is probably after stomping a line and feeling that wave of adrenaline. Things can get a little out of hand freeskiing the rest of the day. 

What sets Kings and Queens of Corbet’s apart from other events?
How do you see it progressing?

Kings and Queens is one-of-a-kind and great for the industry. Competing with snowboarders adds a unique vibe to the event—you never know what to expect. It’s also probably brought new eyeballs to freeriding. The level of progression the last few years has been exponential and I honestly can’t imagine where the event will go next. I think we’ve reached the pinnacle as far as landing deep and, now, style will start to take over. I’m not a huge rail dude but the idea has definitely crossed my mind of sprinkling a few down in the runout.

Any ambitions to join the Freeride World Tour?

The FWT has always been enticing. I love competing and would be stoked to show my skiing through the FWT, but for the next few years want to focus my energy on creative film projects. I was given a wildcard last year but decided to hold off given the entire world was on lockdown. If the opportunity presents itself again, I can envision competing at Kicking Horse since it’s so close to home. 

The flick you put out two seasons ago, “Dollar Short,” featuring your buddy Jake Hopfinger and shot by Benshi Creative, was a really creative take on the short ski film. What was the inspiration for the project? Can you provide some insight about this year’s movie?

Benshi wanted to create something different and I had been dreaming about a bank robbery scene… so we just ran with it. All summer long, the crew has been working hard on post-production and is just now wrapping up our newest project, “MIXTAPE.” We’ve incorporated more athletes, new locations and each segment has a unique musical element. All together we’re trying to create the soundtrack to winter. The trailer is now live online and we premiered the film in Bozeman on October 15th. 

Last question. Any crazy skiing superstitions?

I don’t say “knock on wood” anymore. At 12-years-old, I was hitting some local dirt jumps [on a mountain bike] and was intimidated by a certain feature. I said “knock on wood” and, 20 seconds later, I landed on my head. I got a slight concussion and called it for the day. Later that week I went back to redeem myself: I said, and did, the exact same thing, resulting in a trip to the ER where I got an MRI because the X-ray made them think I broke my neck. Fortunately… it turned out I didn’t actually break anything. From then on I haven’t said “knock on wood” and, thankfully, haven’t had a similar situation. 

This story originally appeared in FREESKIER Volume 24.
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