SKIING’s interview with Gordy Peifer, one of North America’s top 25 skiers.
Name: Gordy Peifer
Age when you started skiing: Four
Hometown/where you learned to ski: Pine Knob, outside of Detroit.
When did it hit you that you could be a pro/competitive skier? When I saw Scot Schmidt in a Warren Miller film around 1983. I thought to myself, “I want to do that. That’s cool.” I realized that there were people who were publicizing the sport not for racing. See, I wanted to be a racer at first. I was always into jumping, even when I was racing. Then I moved out West and realized that I didn’t want to race, I just wanted to ski.
Current ski mountain: Snowbird and Alta. Quite often I’ll ski them both in the same day. Basically, I consider them to be one mountain.
Claim to fame/results: I was the 2000 U.S. Freeskiing champion and the 1998 Canadian Freeskiing Nationals champion.
Signature trick or move: What’s helped me get noticed are my airs. I hit a lot of big cliffs. I always tried to stick my landings, not to land on my butt, but I’ve pretty much skied out of them. Now I’m known more for my turns than my airs, for actually skiing a peak rather than jumping one.
Have any pets? Two dogs: Lilly, a golden retriever, and Barkley, a black lab mix.
Favorite food: Pizza
Beverage of choice: Gin and tonic
Favorite band: Wang Chung
What kind of car do you drive? Chevy pickup
Last book you read: I think it was called Endurance. It was about the people who got frozen in ice on their ship in Antarctica.
Do you have a ski hero? Who? Why? The person who influenced me more than anyone is Rick Emerson. He was older than me. Rick grew up skiing at Pine Knob. He would do 1080s, jumping from one bump to the other. He would do jumps as big as Moseley, like huge back-flips. I almost never saw him crash. He was like a cat. Last I heard he was coaching in New Zealand. He had the biggest impact on me in my most formative years.
Movies you’ve been in: Further, Ski Movie, The Realm, Global Storming, Uprising, Sick Sense, IMAX Extreme, The Hedonist, Promised Land, Breathe,and Endless Winter.
Pastimes off the hill: Motorcycling — I have three bikes, a sport bike, a motocross bike, and a dual-purpose bike. I’m also into mountain biking — downhill and cross-country. I also like photography — I’ve had 30 or so photos published in Bike Magazine, and I’ve done catalog work for about 15 companies.
Plans for the future: I’d like to segue into photography. I’m also getting into the team manager mode a bit. I’m involved with several teams’ ads and helped choose their teams of skiers.
What are your thoughts on the state of the ski industry? It’s an interesting time. I don’t know if there’s been another time like this. We’ve got two things that are really popular in the magazines: big mountain and the new freestyle scene, a revamped freestyle with a lot of open-ended imagination. I think the ski industry is coming back hard. Terrain parks — I think every ski area should have one, there’s no excuse. It’s breathing life into the younger skiers. Not everyone can get into a helicopter, but people still want to see it.
How do you feel about the FIS/IFSA? I love the IFSA. Ever since they’ve come in, they’ve stayed true to their intentions. They keep things in the athletes’ hands. It’s not a top-down thing, there’s no ego. Shane (McConkey) has a lot to do with that. MSI — who promotes the events — helps too.
Do you think fat skis are a game-improvement tool or a crutch? For sure a game-improvement tool.
Skiboarders? Shoot ’em or hug ’em? Hug ’em for sure. Maybe a kid can’t afford Alpine skis. As long as they’re having fun, I don’t care.
Any words of wisdom for our readers? Ski first lift to last lift. That’s a big part of what made me a good skier — loving to ski.
Do you have any nicknames? If so, what do they mean? I’ve never had a nickname stick: Air Gordon, Top Forty Gordy, Gordo, Gorby Peifer, which became Gorbychov (Gorby was a misprint on a flight ticket to Norway), Gordski.