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Truth: Eric Pollard

The pioneering freeskier on fatherhood, snowboarding, and nearly losing his leg.

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By Megan Michelson

Bend, Oregon’s Eric Pollard landed his first sponsorship as a teenager and has skied in flicks by Matchstick Productions, Poor Boyz, and Level 1. In 2007, with fellow skiers Chris Benchetler, Andy Mahre, and Pep Fujas, he launched the film company Nimbus Independent. Known for its online edits, Nimbus is producing its second feature film, After the Sky Falls, due out next fall. Now 31, Pollard is a father, professional skier, and gear designer.

When I was 13 I started going into terrain parks and trying tricks. The parks were basically empty, except for a few snowboarders. Skiing in the park seemed like a very counterculture thing to do.

In the generation I grew up, snowboarding was really on the rise, and that heavily influenced the direction of my skiing. Skiing wasn’t about how fast I could go but rather, could I ski backwards or do surf-influenced turns? That’s how I got my start.

My dad had a video camera, this little yellow Sony. My friends and I would film each other— then I’d go home and start editing the footage straight to the VCR. Those videos would haunt me if anyone were to find them today.

When we launched Nimbus, we were fueled by influences from skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. We wanted to release videos for free online, which at that time no other ski movies were doing. Nimbus is not set up to make any money. It’s for us to put out what we want.

I’m not particularly gifted with design or drawing. But I was the kid who was trying to bend up the tails of his skis so he could land backwards. I wasn’t thinking, “I’m going to design skis.”

I got to design my first signature pro model ski with Line Skis when I was just 17.

I encourage any skier to pick up a snowboard and go ride it. The sensation is so different.

After I broke my leg skiing in Russia in 2013, I flew to Germany and was in a hospital there for more than a month. My leg looked like a shark had attacked it. I had a total of 11 surgeries. There was a high risk of amputation due to infection.

My identity is so wrapped in my body, so when that was almost taken from me I was at a total loss. I didn’t know what the next step was.

Now my foot is partially paralyzed. If I were a professional in any other sport, I wouldn’t be able to maintain. But when I put my foot into a ski boot, it’s basically locked into that position. So I can still ski.

Photo courtesy of Line Skis / Kapitol Photo. 

Hear more from Eric Pollard here