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Parkin Costain on skiing Alaska with legends

Photo: Nic Alegre

At 23 years old, Legend Has It marks this Montana native’s fourth snow film with TGR. Discovered when he submitted an edit to TGR’s Snow Grom Contest (and won!), Parkin Costain hasn’t looked back and has so much to look forward to. This and Scott Sports athlete continues to push speed, creativity, park style with backcountry prowess. This winter, Parkin dominated the Wyoming backcountry, blew up in Corbet’s during Kings & Queens, and logged his inaugural segment in Alaska with a few legends. Watch his episode of Legends In The Making.

How’d it all begin?

I’ve been following my dad around the slopes of Whitefish since he was a toddler. My grom pack included Maggie Voisin, X Games medalist and three-time Olympian, her twin brother. We were on the local freestyle team together and learned 720s and double backflips at the same time. Then, Maggie moved to Park City and she skyrocketed onto the competitive circuit. This winter was super special because we got to ski in the backcountry and film together after being on separate tracks for the last 10 years.

What came to mind when you learned of the name of this year’s snow film?

When I learned the film was called “Legend Has It”, my mind immediately went to this stand out memory from when I was a little kid at a ski film premiere with my dad.. There was this clip of Sage (Cattabriga-Alosa) in Light the Wick where he flat spins over this huge crevasse in the middle of Alaska. That's been ingrained in my mind ever since. I knew I wanted to be doing that one day.

Finding style in the backcountry. Photo: Nic Alegre

What inspires you in the mountains?

I’m a huge fan of adventure and finding new zones, exploring new places. I definitely pull inspiration from the way that I look at the terrain, imagining how I’d want to ski it. Always trying to interpret the terrain and lines in a different way than I think other people might.

I've really been psyched and trying to progress my freeride in the backcountry by throwing in a little bit more tricks than usual. I'm always looking for new take offs, some new way to hit something that's been done before.

Parkin loves the new Polaris sled. Photo: Nic Alegre

Your season started in Wyoming?

Yeah, the season in Wyoming was so solid from start to finish. We were scouting new zones and exploring a little further than I think most folks had been doing just outside of Jackson Hole. It was super sick with everyone on these brand new Polaris sleds being able to rip so far into the backcountry, pretty efficiently. We were doing like multiple 50 mile loops out and back exploring the mountains, trying to find new terrain.

We certainly got ourselves pretty deep in the mountains a few times. There were a few missions where we knew we weren't going to be back until late. It was one of those times where everyone had a little bit of a conundrum. A couple of sleds in the creek. Couple of creek beds that led us to somewhere besides where we wanted to go. We may have ended up at a different trailhead than we started. Fortunately we made it out before search and rescue was called. Yeah, it's been super fun.

Finding big airs in the Wyoming backcountry. Photo: Nic Alegre

The past couple seasons I've been getting out in the mountains more and more with my buddy, Jake Hopfinger. We’re both based out of Bozeman and wanting to explore the mountains all around us. Which put us in Wyoming a bunch this winter. Jake and I look at terrain really similarly. We’ve both pretty level-headed and we're okay with stepping off of something if it isn’t right. We’ve got no problem reassessing so we can come back when everything lines up.

How was Kings & Queens?

So Jake, Amy (David) and I were all in Wyoming mid-winter and really psyched on the segment we were putting together for TGR. We were all also signed up for JHMR’s Kings & Queens of Corbet’s comp, and the event was coming up. Something like that definitely can change the outcome of your season, depending on how big you go or what happens while it’s going down.

Jake and I were both pretty intimidated, Amy as well. We kind of had a solid plan, and really just hoped that it would work out. You never fully know going into that thing. Jake and I tried to lace together a transition. We both ended up going a little bit too big and blew up this year. Amy put a run right down the middle of the couloir and tweaked her knee on the landing and blew her ACL which was really unfortunate since there was a lot of season left.

Kings & Queens has been such an unreal event the past few years. The athletes go bigger every year. I feel like maybe I get a little more sore every year. This year, especially (laughs). Luckily, we had massages lined up at Teton Mountain Lodge post-comp. That was super sick.

You had a chance to explore a bit of the Jackson Hole backcountry.

Everyone knew that California and Utah were getting hammered. Wyoming was right up there. There's just so much snowfall this year even at lower elevations. It just kept stacking up. There were lines that locals had been staring at for 10, 15 years that were all-time.

There’s one really prominent ridge with a sheer wall and a cliff on the backside that was super fun. I could kind of play my way down. I skied like 5,000 vert, it was like over a minute of pure riding. There was also this crazy long, spiny pillar line all the way down the middle of this forest, maybe a thousand vert. I got to ski it top to bottom on site.

It's like once you get up into the alpine, there’s mini golf zones all through the woods. So many options for jibs, backcountry freeriding, and pillow lines around every corner.. There’s a little bit of everything. And everywhere you looked, there was a new zone and a new lip to try to build something off of. It’s been super fun and so creative around here.

I know that some of the zones we've been hitting are new, and the legendary lines around here are in zones that athletes like Dash Longe, Griffin Post and Todd Ligare have all hit before. It’s so cool to think about that.

When the world's your own private terrain park. Photo: Nic Alegre

So, your first trip to the Last Frontier?

I grew up watching those blower crazy AK spines every year in all those TGR films back in the day. I mean, that’s the reason I’ve always wanted to come to Alaska.

Alaska is truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I’d never flown into a glacier and walked through an ice cave until I showed up here.

Where was home base?

The outfit was called Crown Mountain Guides and we stayed at the Alaska Mountain Lodge. The place had the homiest vibe you could possibly imagine while having a heli pad and the Knik Glacier right out your door. They made us breakfast and dinner every single day, and once we headed out into the mountains, we got our lunches packed with chocolates. Yeah, it was really nice. I could get use to this.

Tell us about the AK crew.

It was a pretty legendary crew. It was Sage, Ian McIntosh, and Maggie. Pretty unreal, an all-time trip with these two and my best childhood friend. Coming up here I was definitely like, “Am I really headed to Alaska with Sage and Ian, like the two most legendary AK skiers of all time?”

It was such a super cool experience and it's been so fun to hang out with them, learn from them. They were definitely our mentors out here in the mountains. They have so much knowledge and have been coming up to AK for so many years. Whenever you’d have a question, they were totally willing to help you out, figuring ways to get down something, how to approach something.

Sage and Mac, kinda like Yin and Yang?

Sage is such an inspiration. He just thinks so creatively. Like normally you try to avoid a crevasse, but Sage was just like, no, let's build a jump over it. That's something I've definitely ingrained in myself, just trying to look at a mountain differently and to find ways to come down it as creatively as possible.

I’d like to think that Mac and I ski pretty similarly, we like to go fast and loose. I mostly like to keep it tight, but every once in a while it gets loose. We both try to get down to the bottom as quickly and as big as possible.

At some point, Maggie and I were at the bottom, looking up at center stage. We’d just skied some super fun lines and were taking it all in. Mac says, you could push it if you wanted. So he flies up in the heli and was able to eye it up. He basically says: “I can turn right on the edge of this cliff.”

Sure enough, when the time came, Mac worked it so close to the edge that I started to sweat. I was literally freaking out for him. It was crazy to watch him ski that thing as confidently as he did and work it so close to the edge because that's like my worst nightmare.

Getting after it in Alaska. Photo: Nic Alegre

Pretty legendary experience?

Yeah, I knew we were going to be skiing with some of the most legendary skiers to ever exist. Just to have access to their knowledge and be able to tap into their experience when you're not feeling 100% on a line or you're just kind of curious as to how they would ski it vs. how you'd ski it. It was super eye opening, and I took a lot home from it. I'm really excited to implement it all into the future.

About The Author

stash member Teton Gravity Research

It all began with a dream and a little cash scraped together from fishing in Alaska... Since 1995, we've been an action sports media company committed to fueling progression through our ground-breaking films (37 and counting) and online content.