Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
This year, X Games expanded their Real Ski video competition from strictly backcountry to include urban freeskiing. And they stacked the competition: Clayton Vila, Tom Wallisch, Ahmet Dadali, Cam Riley, JF Houle, and Will Wesson. Each competitor was given six weeks to film and edit a short video segment (watch Will’s segment below). Will Wesson is known in the industry as one of the most creative and tireless workers, often spending hours exhausting all possibilities on a feature. I talked with Will last week, the day before his Real Ski segment premiered. He was on his way, of course, to film a rail session.
PO: If your Instagram is an indicator, this season has been really busy for you.
WW: There’s been a lot of travel in the last year. I’ve been sliding metal, sliding snow, indoors, outdoors—but the most memorable was a 50-day trip to Asia. Really, I’ve been doing a little bit of everything. I skied an ice slide made for children in Japan, a park in Korea, a playground in China, and last spring, I was at the second highest hut in Switzerland. That was pretty cool.
PO: What did you think when X Games contacted you about competing in Real Ski?
WW: I definitely had mixed emotions. I was caught off-guard and we didn’t have a lot of notice or prep time. The season was already underway. I was filming for Traveling Circus and was like ‘Oh man, I’ve got to drop that and focus on this.’ It’s a big opportunity but it was very stressful at times.
PO: Thoughts on being considered one of the top six urban skiers in the world?
WW: Definitely stoked to be included. I was honored. All the guys in this, we’ve all been doing our thing for awhile. It’s pretty cool that an organization recognizes that and makes a thing out of it.
PO: What about the possibility of earning a medal?
WW: It’s awesome, kind of that little-kid X Games dream come true. Those dreams died a long time ago for me. I’m not a competition skier and I’m not the biggest supporter of judging freesking—it’s free-skiing. But I think it’s awesome to recognize people for making something cool. I’m glad it’s not judged like a slopestyle course. This is a film comp, lots of style and individuality. It’s all the best, different styles in one place.
PO: Do you identify as an urban skier?
WW: I guess I’m just an everyday person. You know, if my aunt or someone asks, I say, “I just ski.” It’s not traditional but I love variety. My strengths lie in sliding on metal but I love sliding on snow too.
PO: Who did you think of first when composing your film crew?
WW: Just the guys I’ve been working with, my friends and me doing what we always do, Johnny Durst and the Level 1 crew. We really work well together.
PO: What was filming like?
WW: It was a rowdy six weeks. We were notified in early December. We were in Salt Lake trying to hit features in the mountains, checking the weather. Then, Tahoe decided to turn on so we went there to get some features under our belt and some momentum going. We went back to Salt Lake because it was snowing and I know a ton of features there. Three days later, Denver got snow, and it melts fast there so we headed out. Denver for five days while the snow was intact, then back to Salt Lake, then home for Christmas. I came back to Salt Lake and went at it, spent New Year’s in Bozeman, and looked around Montana for features. We finally regrouped in Salt Lake, decided what we needed, what we had, and filled in the gaps. We finished the second week of January.
PO: Were you nervous about competing against these guys?
WW: I was nervous, but not about competing against anybody. I was thinking, “This is the time and place to do the things you’ve been putting off. It’s the largest audience that will get to see your skiing.” The pressure was to not get hurt. Every day counts when you’ve got a time period that short.
PO: What’s next?
WW: I’m driving up to the foothills of Denver to hit a rail. Not much has changed. I’m headed to Minnesota for Tell A Friend Tour and then Japan. Minnesota is always a good time—fun parks, quick laps, and the kids are the most stoked in the world. It’s a good place to refresh and not be so serious. It reminds you of why you started skiing. It’s all about skiing around, being an idiot with your friends, and having fun.