Breaking new ground: Why Tanner Hall is joining the Freeride World Tour

Breaking new ground: Why Tanner Hall is joining the Freeride World Tour

Featured Image: Dom Daher/FWT

When a young Tanner Hall graced the cover and received his first feature story in the December 2001 issue of FREESKIER magazine, the conversation focused on his unprecedented style and skill in big air, slopestyle and halfpipe competitions. Through the years, Hall has earned seven X Games medals and performed on the biggest contest stages available, against other legends like Simon Dumont and Jonny Moseley. The Montana-native continues to solidify himself as one of skiing’s most capable freestyle riders through countless movie parts and a progressive interest in the backcountry—but he’s never dropped into a big-mountain competition before.

Today, the 34-year-old feels rejuvenated, focused and ready to take on the latest challenge in his career: a wildcard bid to join the Freeride World Tour (FWT) in 2019. Stepping out of his five year hiatus from competition, Hall not only brings legendary hype to the global circuit, but a completely new arsenal of tricks in his bag and a confidence that will undoubtedly help him stand out amongst the world’s best big-mountain skiers.

Hall will certainly be challenged by the steeps of Verbier, the rolling, playful terrain of Japan, and competing against the likes of Markus Eder, Loic Collomb-Patton, Kristoffer Turdell, Mikael Bimboes and others. Yet, having given up alcohol and feeling fully recovered from injuries that have plagued previous seasons, Hall seems as ready as ever to conquer the Tour. The blonde-haired legend has been on a tear in 2018, progressing his ability in the park as well as venturing off-piste, slashing enormous spines and natural hits in Alaska with skiers like Henrik Harlaut.

We caught up with Hall yesterday over the phone after he’d wrapped up a day in the park at Mammoth Mountain, hoping to learn a bit more about how one of skiing’s greatest contenders is keeping the pressure low and the vibe high before heading into his first big-mountain competition season.

What’s up, Tanner? Where in the world are you right now?

I’m up in Mammoth, riding their private park; it’s got a big air bag, a halfpipe, another big jump, some rails and shit. I’m just trying to learn some tricks and ski everyday, focus on things that I feel I missed out on, like the double cork revolution. I’ve been doing my trampolines and been in the foam pits for so long, but it’s just now starting to click.

And you’re going to be on the Freeride World Tour next year.

Yeah man, I’m stoked. I figured it’s about time. I’m not getting any younger and I’m skiing pretty good, pretty confident right now. I’ve been skiing a lot of backcountry the last couple years, so I’m excited to finally see if I have all my shit together. I’ve never done a big-mountain ski competition in my life, so it’ll be an interesting experience. I’ll just put myself back in the competition state of mind and see what I can do.

How did the conversation with the FWT start?

I reached out to them and showed my interest. It kind of happened naturally. I was pretty excited to hear the news, [but] I’m just stoked that they think my skiing is good enough; it means I’m doing something right.

In 2018, you’ve kind of been on a tear. Seems like the T-Hall that we know and love is bouncing back.

Before the season, I broke up with a girl that I’d been seeing for nearly two and a half years. And, on top of that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, if I wanted to keep skiing. ‘Cause the older you get, it’s no joke, you really need to make it a “24 hours of the day, seven days a week” kind of thing to keep your body and your mind healthy, because people are at such a progressive level. The kids these days are fucking crazy. [So], for me, right now, I stopped drinking 14 and a half months ago. That’s been a really big savior for me. Alcohol is a terrible thing… so I needed to erase it.

I’m assuming you’re still puffing on the ganj, though?

[Laughs] I still smoke some weed. Don’t think that’ll change too soon… but I’m not smoking too much, not really during the day when I’m on my skis. I’m really trying to take a more clear-headed path on my skis. When I get off my skis, after doing what I had set my mind to, the joint when I get back to my van after a day of riding means a whole lot more.

That being said, do you find you’re a bit more goal-oriented these days?

Yeah, I’d say so… maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Time doesn’t wait for anything, for anybody. I’m just trying to play a game of catch-up, keep my mind and my body super healthy and just see what I can do in the ski world, in a competition state of mind. The Freeride World Tour is next season, but the reason why I’m learning all these tricks right now… I just love skiing and that’s all I want to to do. I’m really pumped to [ski] some of the best natural jumps in the world and see what I can do… ‘cause I really love skiing powder.

How do you think your more recent backcountry experience will translate to your time on the FWT?

I can’t really tell [just yet], but I’ve been watching a lot of the events, studying up a little bit. It’s not like I’m going in there blind; I know what my skills are and I’m confident in those at this point, so it should be a fun and interesting ride.

How did you find out you made the Tour?

I got a text from Henrik Harlaut; he heard about it first.

Are there any big-mountain riders that catch your attention more than others?

Kids like Logan Pehota, Markus Eder, Loic Collomb-Patton.

What do you find most intriguing about this competition circuit?

Everything about it. With everything I’ve done in my life on my skis, I just want to ski on the [Freeride World] Tour and feel confident. From going to some of the coolest places in the world, to being put on the world stage against the best skiers that ride big-mountain… nothing beats that.

Do you have a certain venue you’re most excited to ski?

I’m most excited to go to Japan—it looks pretty playful.

Finally, how are you going to prepare physically and mentally for the Freeride World Tour season?

Eat good food, hang out with good people, go to the gym, ride my bike… just no jokes, no alcohol, I smoke ‘chron, that’s what I do. Just really enjoy riding, you know?

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