Luke and Adam Schrab, the high-flying Midwestern freestyle yahoos made famous in Warren Miller’s 1999 flick Fifty, sit at the kitchen table with their mother and stepfather in Hartford, Wisconsin. They’re eating raw noodles and Velveeta cheese for breakfast. “We’re kinda nuts,” Adam says. “We like speed, anything fast — cars, bikes, anything.”
Recently, their mother spotted them riding their bikes off a 15-foot-high plank into a pond. She shrugs. “Our house was full of tears and blood from the day they were born,” says Mom.
Now 20, the fraternal twins discovered skiing when they were eight years old and were kicked off the local ski hill not much later. They built a jump on a barely sloping field at their father’s farm and, using an old John Deere snowmobile for extra thrust, learned to fly. “We just wanted to go fast and high and jump,” Luke says. Landing on five feet of frozen Midwestern earth, they got bruised. They got really bruised. They also got good. They got really good.
By 1997, the boys were kicking butt in local and regional freestyle competitions. The ski jump on the farm grew bit by bit into a 37-foot-high tower that caused consternation in the cockpits of low-flying planes. “It’s just the Schrab boys,” local cops told the shaken pilots.
In 1998, success in national competition — Adam was national upright-aerials champion — buoyed the boys from the farm. They used a shaky video camera to film themselves shooting over the field with a dog nipping at their heels and sent the film to Warren Miller. “They went nuts,” recalls Adam. “They were laughing their asses off, calling us the hillbillies from Wisconsin.”
In Fifty, the spinning, flipping Schrab twins stole the show. They’ve been filmed for the 2000 Warren Miller movie, too, as well as for a Doublemint gum commercial. But what these boys are really after is air and more air. To support their skiing habit, they’ve started a construction company, Land Projects. They do concrete and brick work, land surveying, anything to pay for their plane tickets to the next gig.
But even as they jet across the heights of the ski world, they’re staying true to the flatlands. They may be schooling the mountain boys in Vail and Squaw, but they’re keeping their extra socks in the Dairy State.
Born: May 4, 1980
Home Ski Hill: Devil’s Head, Merrimac, Wisconsin
Signature Tricks: Luke: double back flip with a cross. Adam: 1440.
Milestones: Adam got a tattoo between his shoulder blades for his 18th birthday. Luke totaled his Nissan pick-up by running it off a ski jump.
Fears: Adam: that he won’t go high enough. Luke: that he’ll “bust his shit” — like the leg he broke in 1998.
Existential Musings: Luke: “If we weren’t skiers, we’d be stuntmen.” Adam: “People get what they deserve.”