dropped out of college to be a ski bum at Colorado's legendary Arapahoe Basin, where he lived out of his van for four years in the notorious upper parking lot. But it was a van with a plan, allowing him to save enough money to buy a house nearby in the funky mining enclave of Montezuma. Now a champion freeskier, Rex skis about 200 days each year and vows he'll "never have a real job."
Born March 21, 1970 (Age 29)
The Homefront "My family moved from St. Louis to Durango, Colo., in 1974. We lived at the base of Purgatory Mountain, the ski area in town. I was a gate racer until I was 16, and then I moved to Kansas City for two years of high school. For a skier, Kansas City is the ultimate hell."
The Road to Victory "I went back to Durango in 1988 to go to Fort Lewis College, but I didn't race¿I was too slow to make the team. So I decided to be an extreme skier, and I left school. I skied for four years on the pro bump circuit. But I missed some events when I started freeskiing. It was a good move. I finished first at the U.S. Freeskiing Championships in Crested Butte in 1998."
The Van "It's a 1976 Dodge Santana with 73,000 miles. I couldn't ski all I wanted to and pay rent at the same time. I had this goal of buying a house, and I watched some of my friends move into their vans, so I had a pretty good idea on how to save a bunch of cash."
And The Van Plays On "I recently sold the van, but I see it around a lot. I miss it. I really miss it. But it's allowing someone else to do the same thing, so I'm psyched for it."
Mom Always Said... "My parents hated my lifestyle at first¿they didn't want me to quit school. The original plan was to take off a semester and ski. I told my mom that and she absolutely freaked. I will always remember her tone of voice and exactly what she said as if it was yesterday. She said, 'I know you, and you'll never go back.' She was right."