So you wanna be a pro skier? Here are some words of advice to help you in your quest.
1. I want you to know that your passion for this sport will be the number one thing to hold on to.
Scoping lines in the Tordrillos. TGR photo.
Don't burn yourself out before you even get there because if you become pro, that will be what truly tests your passion for the sport. In other words, don't focus too much on the end result, and rather enjoy the journey.
Love skiing and getting out in the mountains every day with your friends to just rip it up and have a great time. Some of my most fond memories as a skier were when I was just a bum. Living off barely any money and not caring about anything other than shredding pow with my friends. That is where my true passion for everything that followed was born. Next, make sure to stay true to yourself as a skier—don't let the industry tell you what kind of skier you need to be. Stick to what you love doing to ensure that you will be the best you can be and always stoked with what you are doing. Don't just hit the park all day if you rather be out skiing lines in the backcountry or vice versa. There is amazing diversity in our sport that allows people to express who they are through the type of skiing that they enjoy. The world is your canvas, skiing is your art and there are no limitations to what you can portray.
If you do get the opportunity and the stars align for you to become pro, then this next bit of info is really important.
2. Understand that even though this is an individual sport, you will get nowhere if you are not a team player.
Everything I do as a skier involves a crew who works together to create success. If you are filming, on any given trip you will have to work with guides, photographers, cinematographers, other athletes, and sponsors. For you to truly crush it, everyone on your team also needs to crush it. The film needs to be great for you to be great which means the other athletes also need to crush it, the production team needs to crush it and your safety team, pilots and everyone else involved has to crush it in their roll. There is no such thing as individual success in this world, we all lean on each other to bring out the best in one another. If you are only focused on yourself, then nobody will want to work with you and you'll bring your whole team down which will vastly affect the project you are working on.
If you have a sick part in a film or project but overall the project sucks then no one will take notice of what you did as an individual. The same principles apply if you are a contest skier, you will have a network of people behind you including sponsors, trainers, and fellow athletes all helping you to achieve success but if nobody wants to work with you then you will not achieve the level that you otherwise could have.
3. Be that person that others gravitate toward and want to be around.
The last piece of advice I have relates back to being a team player and someone people want to work with. Understand that in this sport there is a lot of talent and most people can't make a career out of it. As a sponsored skier you are a marketing tool for the companies that support you. You will work closely with people in design and marketing so try to see the world through their eyes from time to time. Part of this is you need to be a personality that can be marketed, it's not just about being a great skier. You want to be someone people want to work with and you'll never make an impression if your just the quiet person in the corner. Be positive, happy, fun, and outgoing but not cocky or arrogant. Be that person that others gravitate toward and want to be around. Everyone I know who has made it in this business has a personality to match their ability on skis.
If you are giving a designer feedback on some clothing or equipment that you feel needs drastic improvement, don't just come at them telling them what a bad job they did and giving them a list of everything that's wrong—they will tune you out if you take that approach. Rather, start with all the things that were done right and focus at first on the positive, you will find they are much more receptive to your criticism if you take this approach. Our industry is a social one, so if it doesn't come naturally then work on becoming a more social person. There will be many circumstances where you are at a social event with key people who run the companies that sponsor you. These events usually have an open bar so remember not to get carried away because these are great opportunities to connect with said key people. If you are the super drunk guy/girl passed out in the corner or making an ass of himself/herself then you will not leave a good impression. However if you keep yourself together and have the skills to engage in many conversations throughout the evening, people will remember you as a valued asset to their brand. Don't squander these great opportunities to connect with people stay out with them but keep yourself together.
Will all this said don't put all your self-worth into becoming a pro. It takes skill, luck and being in the right place at the right time. There are plenty of people who have all the skill but things just don't work out for them. Just enjoy the sport and know that no matter what happens in life, you'll always be a great skier that can have fun and enjoy a great lifestyle in the mountains. You'll be healthy, have rich relationships with friends and family gained through incredible times together in the mountains and when the world seems to be coming down on you, you'll always have a place to escape the madness and find peace.