Why did we pick Tom Wallisch as the likely winner of the 2013 AFP slopestyle title? Even over heavy hitters like Bobby Brown, Nick Goepper and Gus Kenworthy? Maybe it’s the fact that he’s the defending AFP champion. Or maybe it’s because he won slopestyle gold last season at the X Games. Or that he’s the 2012 slopestyle Dew Cup winner. Truth be told, it’s all of these things, coupled with the fact that Tom is one of the most consistent skiers in the game and shows no signs of slowing down.
We caught up with Tom to ask him some questions about his stellar 2011/12 season, and the road ahead.
You had quite the 2011-12 season. To what do you attribute your success? I guess just staying healthy and being able to ski so much last season. I wasn’t trying to do anything differently. I was just skiing the best I could and putting together runs I was very, very confident with, throwing tricks I knew I could land. It was such a good year. We had great courses and good weather. With slope, it can go any way at any time. Every course is different, so to be able to be consistent and to win a good bit last year, it was amazing. I was super fortunate.
What keeps you pumped on contest skiing? It’s definitely a little stressful and hard to keep up with all season long, but what keeps me stoked is that it changes a lot every year. There are a lot of different people coming in and out of it, and each course is different every year. Also, there are so many good friends that I ski with at those events that I don’t have an opportunity to ski with throughout the season. More than anything, it’s the opportunity to travel and to ski the best parks in the world. The places, the venues—these contests are set at the world’s most premier resorts. Tignes, Aspen, Whistler, these places have so much history. They have the best parks, and they’re amazing mountains to ski. Whether you’re skiing the park, going out the day after an event to ski the hill or getting together for a big ol’ party the night after, it’s such a good group of people, all together in one place, for the same reasons. It’s a good vibe. Oh, and you can make a little bit of money while you’re doing it, which is good. I do have tuition and mortgage payments to make. [laughs]
Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to about the upcoming competition season? Same things as always, the major contests, for one. I’m looking forward to seeing how the FIS World Cup events are run and the opportunity to maybe go to Russia for an Olympic test event. I’m hoping we can be involved in the planning and processes leading up to Sochi. I’m hoping we’ll have the opportunity to have a say in the course design and layouts, the number of features—all these things that will become very important questions as we come down to the wire with Olympics approaching. I’ve never done a World Cup event, so doing some of those for the first time to get a feel for that whole side of the sport will be fun and interesting. I’m hoping it goes well, and it’s as fun as we want it to be and not all crazy like FIS can sometimes be.
The Olympics are a big goal for you. Is that changing the way you approach your skiing? No, definitely not. It’s a common question. I don’t ever want to have to change my skiing or the way I go about skiing, and I don’t think kids should get the idea that they have to change their skiing or become so regimented or follow some strict plan to get to the point where you can go to the Olympics. There’s no training regimen you can do. It’s just about skiing and being out there every day, becoming more consistent in the tricks you’re doing. I’m still going to ski handrails and ski the backcountry with my friends and film edits in the park. I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing and try to have the most fun I can every day that I’m out there.