Featured Image: Frank Shine
Q&A with Marcus Caston
So, why the turn?
Ever since I learned how to ski, skiing has been about turning. I don’t think there is any better feeling than when you are in the apex of a turn, bending up a ski, and fighting all the forces acting on your body. You’re playing with physics and doing things on skis you can’t do in normal life. You’re a total superhero.
Via Facebook, skier Chris Tatsuno recently brought attention to the idea of stylish and well-executed turning when he lumped Sean Pettit into a category of “pro skiers who don’t really ‘ski’ all that well.” Do you have an opinion on the matter?
Why, yes, I do have an opinion on the matter. Not on Pettit, specifically, but on the discussion in general. There are so many facets to this debate it may be hard to be concise, but it’s essentially the underlying theme for this project and the reason I even exist as a professional skier. Skiing has taken a drastic turn the the past few years with the proliferation of user-friendly skis, terrain parks and snowboarding. Skiing used to be difficult, and enjoying the entire mountain was unobtainable to the average skier. It’s something you had to work hard at; a real skill. Now, the intermediate weekend warrior is exploring every nook on the hill for better or worse. Pair that with the rise of snowboarding and terrain parks… All of a sudden snowboarding was the “cool” counter-culture thing to do and skiers started imitating it. Airs and tricks have always been a part of skiing, but that’s what they were, simply a part. Now you have kids growing up learning to ski in the terrain park, without actually learning how to ski. The jumps and tricks are amazing crowd pleasers, so the movies and contests reward that kind of thing, even in the big-mountain world.
Now, in my opinion, that dimension of skiing is now a sport on its own, and impressive at that. I fully appreciate the athleticism it takes to do the tricks that these guys and gals are doing. But I think Plake said it best in Fistful of Moguls when he explained, “You know you see people jumping cliffs and cornices… I wonder if those people are actually skiing, or if they just happen to have a pair of skis on.” I don’t want to come off as a snob, I get it, I love taking laps through the park and trying to do some tricks, it is really fun. But I was never going to waste a day of actually skiing to go hang in the park or hit a jump line. Skiing the mountain is what does it for me, and when I watch ski movies there is very little that represents what it is that I love so much about skiing. So, no judgment, however you like to enjoy your time on snow is fine with me. But when I see these pro-level park skiers making film segments on the actual mountain, it does make me cringe a bit, simply because it’s being touted and perceived as pushing boundaries and the best of skiing. It’s the same as if I went and made a park segment, and trust me, that would totally suck. So, I want to bring some attention back to actual skiing and the skill involved to make beautiful turns in every type of condition. I see that as my entire purpose in the ski industry.
How will that idea shine through in the videos?
Each episode centers around skiing in different conditions; we filmed groomers, bumps, corn and powder. For each episode we brought in skiers that are the best in that condition. We skied with Robbie Kelly who races world cup slalom for groomers, and skied moguls with Jonny Moseley and some of the Mogul Team boys. There’s a lot of hip-on-the-ground angles and some pretty goofy stuff, too. We had tons of fun making these videos and I think it shows.
How did this video series go from idea to reality?
I went to Blizzard with the idea, and it took almost zero convincing to get them onboard as a supporter. As soon as I said, “Return of the Turn,” they interrupted me and said, “Yup, go do it.” It’s amazing to work with a company that shares the same values and supports my vision to make it happen. So, I called friend and filmmaker Tim Jones about the idea. He’s an amazing storyteller with a natural ability for taking ideas and piecing ’em all together. Also, he’s great to travel and ski with, and we just had a ton of fun with the whole process.
Talk to me about Jonny Moseley.
I met Moseley backstage at a Warren Miller premiere in San Fransisco last year, and had a great discussion about ski technique. He was so passionate the way he spoke about skiing, and we were pretty much on the same page as to what it was that we loved. It was agreed that we would love to ski with each other sometime, though obviously the honor was mine. He’s the first person in the world I would want to ski bumps with, so when this project came up it was a no-brainer to ask him. He was really busy the week we were filming, but he took the time to help us out. The whole time we were skiing, 10-year-old Marcus was jumping up and down in my brain, “Oh my god, you’re skiing behind Jonny Moseley.” It was a pretty surreal experience.
When you think of the ultimate “turners,” who comes to mind?
I really like watching Hoji [Eric Hjorleifson] and Angel Collinson ski, they’re definitely my favorite pro skiers right now. Todd Ligare, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Max Hammer all blow my socks off, too, but most of my other favorites are bit more mature now. I love watching Chris Anthony, Wendy Fisher, Ingrid Backstrom, Mike Douglas, Seth Morrison, Glen Plake, Scot Schmidt, Daron Rahlves and Doug Coombs.
Can perfect ski turning unite America during these trying political times?
There’s the right wing and there’s left wing, but I think we can all agree you shouldn’t chicken wing.