WHEN KINA PICKETT MOVED FROM Woodstock, Vermont, to Jackson, Wyoming, in 1997, big mountain freeskiing didn't really have a name, let alone a face-especially a nonwhite one. The cult ski-film company Teton Gravity Research had just gotten off the ground, and Pickett quickly became one of its ski stars. Now, when he's not ripping big lines, Pickett, 32, runs Youth Outdoor United, a program that gets underprivileged kids on snow.
THERE ARE THE serious days when you're filming, you're trying to stick a line, and the avy danger's through the roof. But we have our fun days too.
IT'S ABOUT DEALING with cliffs and chutes and airs-piecing it together.
I'VE SKIED BULGARIA, Africa, New Zealand, Russia-France and Switzerland like 10 times. The heli drops you off at some crazy point. Then all of the sudden it hits you: "Two days ago I was in my bed in Jackson."
WHEN I MOVED TO JACKSON, I WAS LIKE, "WHOA!" I'm walking down the aisle at the grocery store and coming towards me is this cowboy in full-on chaps. And he has a pistol! In the last nine years it's changed so much. Now the saying is, the billionaires are chasing out the millionaires.
QUALITY OF LIFE IS NOT A PAYCHECK. You gotta keep telling yourself that.
MY DAD WAS BLACK AND MY MOM WAS WHITE. Sometimes I get funny looks. Even more so fishing: "Oh my God! I think I just saw a black guy with dreadlocks and a fly rod." It's nobody's fault. If you're a white person and you go to Africa, people will go up to you and touch your hair.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO RELAX A LITTLE BIT.
IT'S JUST SKIING. You're not so special. You're just enjoying something that's a part of your life-if you're lucky.