Call of the Wild

Utah’s epic terrain has lured some of the best athletes in the country to put down roots in the state.

From SnoWorld #66

Utah Sweet Utah
For these athletes, home is where the pow is.

Freeskier Matt Philippi navigates the nooks and crannies of the backcountry of Utah. He made a name for himself as a park and pipe skier but a knee injury changed that trajectory. He transitioned to the backcountry and hasn’t looked back. “After a season of exploring new terrain [in Utah], pushing myself, scaring myself a little bit, I knew that that was what the rest of my ski career was going to look like.”

Ian Provo gets a faceful of snow in the Wasatch Range; he and his brother Neil, who’ve made the backcountry their home, film and photograph their adventures on snow, in water, and on dry land.

Neil Provo (foreground, with snowboard) moved to Utah from Connecticut about 15 years ago, following his brother Ian and their father out West. His inspiration? Fresh tracks. “When I see a set of really cool tracks out in the distance, it makes me want to go further and try to put some new tracks out there. It’s pretty cool to see how backcountry skiing has grown so much and to see how many people are really getting after it.”

Utah has always been home to ski racer Steven Nyman, who was raised at Sundance along with his three brothers.

Philippi moved to Salt Lake City after college in Colorado. He has since put down roots. His passion started back East, though, skiing in Maine and Vermont. “When I was younger, I was always trying to catch air, even as a little kid. ... I didn’t always know how to land it right, but with time I learned.”

Surf's Up
Jeremy Jensen rides the waves of Utah on his binding-free Powsurfer.

Jeremy Jensen’s company, Grassroots Powdersurfing, prides itself on being free of everything: bindings, straps, magnets—in other words, “100 percent pure.” He started crafting powsurfers in 2007 and now ships boards all over the world. “I grew up a skateboarder [in Utah]. I’m completely landlocked. There’s nowhere to surf, but I’ve got these beautiful mountains behind me loaded with great snow for six months out of the year. I was just basically adapting to my environment and trying to have fun. Powsurfing was a product of that.”