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7 Questions for a Whistler Unicyclist

Kris Holm unicycled down Whistler Blackcomb last winter. Will unicyclists soon invade your mountain? We asked him, and here's what he said.

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To the mountain unicycle community (yes, there is such a thing) Kris Holm is a pioneer. He founded the Competitive Unicycle Trials and started Kris Holm Unicycles, the premier mountain unicycle manufacturer. (Yes, there is such a thing.) In the winter of 2001, Holm took his half bike to Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia for the TV show That’s Incredible. Then he rode the hell out of the mountain—halfpipe, moguls, trees, and all. Could unicyclists soon invade your mountain? We rang the 35-year-old, who often rides the snowy bike trails near his home in Vancouver, to find out. Here’s what he had to say:

SKIING: We hear you’re a skier.
Kris: I grew up skiing through the late ’70s and early ’80s at Whistler, BC, where my family had a condo. I mostly alpine skied till I was 10, then I started getting into backcountry. And now that’s my primary mode of skiing, mostly in southwestern BC in the Coast range.

SKIING: So how did you get into unicycling?
Kris: After watching a street performer in Victoria, BC, I asked for one for my 12th birthday. At the time I didn’t know off-road unicycling as a sport and I didn’t have anyone to ride with. But I was from an outdoors family so the natural thing to do was to take it into the backcountry.

SKIING: Was it the “natural thing” to take it onto snow?
Kris: Kind of. The idea came up because I’ve always been taking my unicycle unusual places, like climbing mountains to ride down them, riding on bridge railings and above cliffs.

SKIING: And Whistler Blackcomb is cool with unicyclists?
Kris: The only reason they let us do it is because of the TV show. I’ve never really asked if I could; I just assumed they wouldn’t allow it. I’d been up there before and snuck up in the trees and ridden down the runs. The fact that I’ve never run into ski patrollers or been kicked out is probably just a fluke.

SKIING: Is riding on snow harder?
Kris: Yes. One minute you can be on top and the next you can sink through. You’re constantly slipping and you can’t skid so you always have to be in control.

SKIING: So what you’re saying is that you crash a lot.
Kris: That snow session was really bruising because I was riding aggressively and the snow was rock hard. No injuries, but I was pretty stiff for the next few days.

SKIING: Understandable. But do you think it’ll catch on?
Kris: It’s too much of a novelty to catch on as a distinct sub-sport of unicycling. It’s just a fun thing to try for those of us lucky enough to live near snowy places.

-SKIING MAGAZINE, November 2008