Things I’ve Learned: Sports agent Tom Yaps on representing some of freeskiing’s top names

Things I’ve Learned: Sports agent Tom Yaps on representing some of freeskiing’s top names

Sports representation in freeskiing has evolved a ton since I began in 2006. Back then, 90% of my job was finding endorsements and basically just putting stickers on skis and helmets. Since then, we have expanded to basically help our athletes execute any idea/project they come up with. I’ve produced events like the Sammy Carlson Invitational and the Tanner Hall Invitational. I’ve helped produce Tanner and Sammy’s films and I’ve found budget for personal filmers or physical therapists. I co-own a separate production company together with Wallisch. Endorsements are still the bulk of the business, but they are now just one way in which we help clients through representation

The difficulties of producing a ski film are snow. Where the hell is the snow? Money, also. Heli time is not cheap. It’s a running joke when we are working on these films that I wish we were doing skate movies.

Watch: The Wallisch Project.

The biggest asset I have in my career is my beard.

The fact that Tanner Hall is as good as ever at this stage of his career is not surprising at all. The two things Tanner has more of in the world than anyone I have ever met are an insane work ethic and a true love of skiing. With that combination, I have never once doubted that Tanner would be able to do this for as long as he wants. I can’t wait to see what he comes back from Alaska with.

When athletes I work with get injured it’s devastating. I was in the ER with Maggie, I was with Maddie when she decided she had to have surgery. These are not easy decisions. I think sometimes people get immune, and just think, “oh, it’s an ACL,” because they have become so common, but you cannot forget that these athletes are human and it’s an incredibly tough thing to go through, especially when you are 16 years old. Both of these were especially tough this year, after Maggie and Maddie had put in such hard work to come back from their injuries last season.

The saying, “It’s all about relationships,” is true because so much of this business is based on trust. Tanner has been with Oakley for over 15 years, and I have worked with them for nine of them. We have been through everything together, so when they give me their word on something, based on the history of that relationship, I can trust them. That’s the type of relationship you strive for.

Managing relationships both professionally and personally has never been difficult for me. I think it’s mainly because I actually like all of my clients and their families. It’s much easier answering a work call at 9 p.m. when you are out to dinner with friends if it’s for people you like. I try and surround myself with pretty awesome people, professionally and personally, and that makes it easier than you’d think.

Being a sports agent, the work hours are undefined. When I’m not traveling, I’m in the office from nine to six or so every day, but my day does not end at six p.m. Last week I was speaking with Nick Martini’s folks around midnight on a Friday, to give them an update on his shoulder from his Siberia trip with The North Face and Sherpas Cinema…he’s OK. It’s part of my job to be easily accessible and available to clients, brands, governing bodies, production companies, etc.

Seeing my athletes succeed is the best. And it’s not even about podiums. To see Tanner come back and make finals at the Dew Tour in 2012, after all of his injuries, and then leave competition skiing on his own terms, that was one of the best days of my career.

My favorite person to watch ski is…c’mon, I can’t answer that! Non-client athletes who I love watching ski are Henrik Harlaut, Candide Thovex, Tim McChesney and Duncan Adams.

Follow Yaps on Twitter and Instagram.

Related: Things I’ve Learned: Eric Crosland on past, present, future of Sherpas Cinema

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