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Chalk it up to being 18, hopped up on testosterone and Red Bull, and really, really good at what he does, but Sean Pettit doesn’t appear to be scared of anything. He charges, balls out, throwing 360s off of 80-foot cliffs and straightlining vertical faces.
This year, he stole the show in Matchstick Production’s “The Way I See it” with aggressive skiing as well as his ability to look comfortable making pow turns in his underwear, then won both Red Bull big mountain events: the Linecatcher and Cold Rush, the latter for the second year in a row.
The Cold Rush win is particularly notable because the other competing athletes, like Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Dane Tudor, voted for the winner. Pettit’s ability to attack (and stomp) big lines hasn’t gone unnoticed among his peers, and we’re paying attention, too.-Heather Hansman
The word I type most frequently next to Angel Collinson’s name is “win”. Or “won”. Or “wins again”. “Dominates” happens too, because that’s exactly what she’s been doing all season long.
This year, she won the Las Lenas, Crested Butte, Kirkwood, and Snowbird stops of the Freeskiing World Tour, which put her on top of the whole tour for the second year in a row. She also ended up second in the Europe-based Freeride World Tour, as one of only four invited American women.
And realistically, this is only a jumping off point for Collinson, who’s know for her fluid, aggressive style, and confidence to step up to big lines. She was born and brought up at the base of Snowbird, so steeps and cliffy lines were literally her playground. Competitively, she made the switch from racing to big mountain just two years ago, and she’s only going to get more aggressive and be more comfortable in the air. She says next year she’s going to try to bring more tricks into her runs, so there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to dominate.-H.H.
Check out Angel’s portrait from the Women of Skiing project.
Consider the sheer energy required to skiafter climbing two million vertical feet in a year. Feel your muscles burning as you ski 7,570 vertical feet in a day. Think about leaving home, your friends and your family to pursue a goal. Surely, someone capable of pulling off an athletic accomplishment like this would be an introverted masochist, who escapes the real world one anaerobic step at a time.
Greg Hill climbed and skied the equivalent of 69 Everest summits, with 40 lbs of gear on his back, leaving his wife and toddler behind in Revelstoke often for months at a time. He skinned, kick-turned, and climbed his way up major peaks in the U.S., Chile, Argentina, and Canada, avoiding bergschrunds and skiing wind-blown sastrugi on the way down. In his biggest month, he skied 238,000 vertical feet, sometimes on the hill from dawn to dusk.
But Greg Hill is not an introverted masochist. He does not relish escapism. He is a pain-feeling, burger-eating, nine-fingered human. He set his eyes on a goalalbeit a near-impossible goal, and achieved it.
On December 30, 2010, the day he finished his goal, he celebrated on a peak near his home in Revelstoke with friends and family, toasting each other with glasses of champagne. Because not only did Greg Hill survive a year in endless pursuit of his goal, his wife, son, daughter, parents, and friends did, too. -Sally Francklyn
Read about his two million foot-accomplishment here.
Before the X Games, most of the ski world may not have known about 15-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace. But after his stunning ilver medal performance on his home turf in Aspen, skiers everywhere said to themselves, “who is this kid?”
The 5’6”, 130 lb high school freshman was the third youngest competitor ever in the Winter X Games, and the youngest on the 2011 roster. His rise to prominence began last winter when he won the Gatorade Free Flow tour, an amateur comp series. That win secured him a spot in this season’s Winter Dew Tour, where he placed 5th in Breckenridge, which was enough to earn him an invite to WX15.
With the pressure of competing in his hometown, on freeskiing’s biggest stage, he could have buckled. Yet while competing against superstars like Simon Dumont and Kevin Rolland, Yater-Wallace kept his cool. His line, dotted with cork 1260’s and alley-oop double flatspins, was fluid, big, and unafraid. With a ilver medal around his neck, Torin proved to his friends, family, sponsors, and the world, that he belongs in the big leagues. -S.F.
See the Skiing Interactive feature on Torin here.
Ted Ligety is best giant slalom skier in the world right now. This winter, he won three giant slalom races: Beaver Creek, Colorado, Val d’Isere, France, and Alta Badia, Italy, which gave him his third World Cup GS title in four years. That made him the first American male ever to do so.
Ligety’s not necessarily the obvious choice to be a GS champion. He’s smaller and lighter than the other guys (Bode Miller has thirty pounds on him) so he’s had to become a perfectionist when it comes to technique. He’s known for being consistent and spot on, cutting corners where other people can’t to shave seconds off of his runs.
But Ligety’s not just a one-trick GS-ing pony. He’s ranked fifth in downhill and ninth overall on the World Cup circuit, too. He’s on track to be one of the most successful American ski racers ever.-H.H.
Ask any female park skier, especially those who are competing on the X Games and Dew Tour circuits, who she looks up to, and who she thinks is pushing the sport into the limelight. The answer, more often than not, is Jen Hudak.
There’s no question that Hudak is one of the strongest and most technical pipe skiers around. But lately she’s been creating buzz for what she’s doing beyond her own performances. She’s a highly vocal advocate for the addition of half pipe skiing to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. While she says her personal goal is to be an Olympic gold medalist, she also wants equal coverage and prize money for women’s competitions.
She’s been clear about where she wants the sport to go, and she hasn’t been shy about asking for it. Most importantly, she’s got the chops to back it up. Sochi 2014 isn’t looking too far away.-H.H.
Google afterbang. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work. Click that first link, the Urban Dictionary one. There you have it, in all of its Internet factuality: Afterbang is, “he landing of any trick on skis with what appears to be extreme steeze. Tom Wallisch is the king of the afterbang.”
And he is. Kid makes skiing look easy. Need proof? Watch this:
Need more proof? Get back on the Google. Wallisch, the skier, was born on the Internet. He won Level 1’s Superunknown contest in 2007, with this. He’s filmed with them ever since, and his segments in “Eye Trip,” which involved huge jumps and an urban trip to Finland, were what the kids these days might call “banger.”
Despite fighting injury this year—a broken shoulder blade kept him out the X Games— and a disappointing showing at Euro X, which he won last year, he continues to be one of the most exciting and dynamic skiers to watch. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Freeskier magazine picked him as the skier of the year and he won the Powder Magazine readers poll, an award that’s only been given to two other skiers—Seth Morrison and Shane McConkey—in the past ten years.-H.H.
Mike Douglas has been called the godfather or many things— most notably, of freeskiing (the Wikipedia page for “newschool skiing” pops up when Googling his name). He’s credited as one of the first to take skiing into the terrain park, and he helped design the first twin-tip ski. Based on his ideas, Salomon began producing the Teneighty, and Douglas has been loyal to the brand ever since. Recently, he’s helped drive the design of Salomon’s Rocker 2, still thinking beyond traditional boundaries in ski construction.
Mike Douglas is also the creative force behind Salomon FreeskiTV. In 2008, he brought the idea to Salomon’s headquarters in France, and ever since, it’s been a hugely successful web series. He often executes his ideas from start to finish— producing, directing, and even filming the episodes. Collaborations with Salomon’s film partners, like Sherpas Cinema and Matchstick Productions, help make sure both the FreeskiTV and feature-film footage is fresh. This season, the episodes have kept their finger on the pulse of freeskiing’s biggest people, places, and events.
“FreeskiTV is definitely Douglas’s baby,” says Alpine Brand Manager Jenny Naftulin. “It’s cool to have an athlete that’s creative, but has the skill to execute his ideas.” -S.F.
To qualify for slopestyle and superpipe finals at a competition is not only difficult, it’s risky. Case-in-point: 17-year old Devon Logan, who qualified for finals in both events at multiple Dew Tour stops, X Games, and Euro X. But in the slope finals at Euro X, she fell and broke two metatarsals her hand, still placing an impressive fifth.
But that injury didn’t slow her down— the Vermont native went on to earn bronze at Euro X, hand wrapped up and taped to her ski pole. She had an impressive arsenal of tricks to work with: an inverted flair, two leftside 540s, a 720, and some massive straight airs.
Devin is young, no doubt. But her attention to style and no-fear approach are beyond her years. And while she looks up to high-caliber ladies like Kaya Turski and Sarah Burke, she can only improve from here. -S.F.
When your mother is a two-time Olympian and a three-time World Cup downhill winner, it’s likely skiing is in your blood. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that Alex Schlopy has stormed onto the scene.
The winter of 2009-2010 could be considered his breakout he won the open Dumont Cup, and received an invite to Euro X, where he placed 8th in slopestyle. The reigning kings of park and pipe, Tom Wallisch and Simon Dumont noticed his talent, and invited him to join their team as a rookie at JOSS (Jon Olsson Super Sessions).
This season, Schlopy upped his game: he placed third overall in slope Dew Cup points, won X Games big air, and was the first to land a dub 1620 in slopestyle competition. He also won the FIS World Championships on his home turf and placed sixth at Euro X. -S.F.
It might be easy to label Sammy Carlson as just an all-star park skier. Look at his accomplishments this year alone: he threw the first ever switch triple rodeo 1260 caught on film at Mt. Hood last summer, and won gold amid a stacked field in slopestyle at Winter X Games.
But he’s by no means just a park skier, and he doesn’t want to be classified that way.
He’s just as strong in the backcountry, spinning and landing tricks in deep snow. So after his slopestyle win he made the decision to forgo Euro X in favor of filming with Poor Boyz. He told ESPN, “I always told myself that when I won X, I would put together the best pow segment I could.”
Chris Benchetler is a bit of a sleeper. He’s not blowing up contests, and in movies he’s often juxtaposed against big name guys like Sage or JP Auclair. If you weren’t paying attention, he might slip by under the radar. But his appearances in TGR’s “Light the Wick” and the Nimbus films are more than impressive: they’re filled with huge backcountry airs and deep, deep snow. His style, which is characteristic of the Nimbus crew, is understated, but creative and charging, and most importantly, fun.
Despite the soundtrack from thirty years ago (another distinctive Nimbus trait) his self-edit from last year, where he’s the center of attention, shows just how big he goes.
He’s killing it on the product side of the business, too. His namesake ski, Atomic’s Bent Chetler, was one of the most popular of the year, and they promise to be knockouts next year, as well.-H.H.