Defining yourself as a skier is about developing your own style. For 22-year-old Banff, Alberta, native Eric Hjorleifson, the equation is simple: Ski fast, pick nasty lines in harsh terrain, and throw that cork 720 off any natural feature you can find. Ski-film directors covet Hjorleifson's big-air-meets-big-mountain ways, but until he hit the silver screen in Matchstick Productions' The Hit List this year, only a handful of Canadian ski photographers knew-or could pronounce-his name. "The 'j' makes a 'y' sound," he says. "Hyor-leaf-son. It's Swedish."
Learn it, because he's not going away. "Eric is on another planet," says Ingrid Backstrom, who skied with Hjorleifson in Tulsequah, BC, last season. "Mind-blowing airs over massive exposure, crazy slough management, and huge tricks." And don't overlook his grace under pressure. Hjorleifson's most harrowing scene in The Hit List revealed cool resilience. Skiing along a rocky outcropping at Mica Creek, BC, he triggered a slide, and fouled his plan to air to safety off a 30-foot knob. With too much speed on the takeoff, he lost his balance and fell into the slide. "I was bouncing down the hill real fast with my skis crossed up, screamin' seaman style," he says. The snow deposited him midway down the slope, beat up but itching to film with MSP again this season.
THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR
WEIGHT: 145 lb.
HOME MOUNTAIN: Lake Louise, AB
SECOND OPINION: "It's rare when someone can throw a 900 off a 130-foot table jump and rail lines in the backcountry. Eric excels at both." -Murray Wais, director, Matchstick Productions