I grew up on the coast in Northern California, where I saw firsthand the aggro vibes that floated in the lineup during surf comps. I assumed skiing was the same, so I had a pretty jaded outlook on big mountain competitive skiing.
Last summer, ignorant of what was truly at the heart of freeskiing comps, I ended up in Chile to cover the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour’s Chilean Freeskiing Championships.
The first person I met in Chile was Vermonter Ryan Hawks, who introduced me to the lifeblood of big-mountain competitive skiing: its characters. Hawks’ booming laugh, charging on-snow style, and personal connection with everyone on the tour turned my preconceived notions of big-mountain comp skiing upside down.