Male model, actor, the second skier on Instagram…the list goes on for KC Deane’s accolades. What’s on the top of that list though is his performance on camera with some hard-charging skiing down some of the wildest lines in the PNW for Stoke the Fire. This year, K2 athlete KC teamed up with the dream team of Colter Hinchliffe and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa in the winter fairytale land of Washington’s North Cascades leaving no couloir, no pillow line, and no powder stash untouched. We caught up with the man himself to hear about their PNW adventure, his history with the sport, and what stoke means. Stoke the Fire is on tour now, find tickets to your nearest tour stop here!
Who is the mystery man KC Deane?
I'm KC Deane, originally from Sandpoint, Idaho, and I like to ski.
When did you decide that you wanted to ski the rest of your life?
I don't know. I feel like my dad made that decision for me when I was three. I think when he put me on skis, that solidified it for me. And then I don't know, I didn't even really know. And then probably around the time that I was 15, 16, I decided this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I think, I don't know if there was a defining moment but I think for me, skiing the rest of my life was going to be determined by wanting to travel and to go to the places that I have always imagined but I didn't know how else to get there other than being a pro skier, basically.
No pillow, no spine, no donger left behind. | Eric Parker photos.
How do you come to the decision to commit to this lifestyle?
My dad was a big part of that. I was going to college in Reno, Nevada, and I'll never forget the phone call. He called me up and he said, "What are you doing? You're wasting your time and your money and you're meant to be doing something else." And he was right. And I dropped out of college and just focused on skiing full time. I think that my dad just had a really good sense of me and who I was and where I was going to go. Because my brother is completely different. My brother loves to ski and snowmobile just like me, but I mean, he just kills it in the books and he was meant to ... He's a scholastic master and I'm just meant to be in the mountains, I guess.
Was that decision to drop out of college to just fully commit to the sport? Was it a tough decision or did it feel natural?
I think that that decision was pretty natural and I think that once I committed, that's when things really started to happen for me. When I didn't have a backup plan and I didn't know what else I was going to do, I mean, skiing was it. And so I had no choice. I had nothing else to do other than make it work. So in some senses it would have felt scary, but it also felt natural. It was the right thing to do because that's what I love and that's where I wanted to go.
Checking out the best that the PNW has on offer. | Eric Parker photo.
A sink or swim kind of deal?
Yeah. I mean, I think the sink or swim type of mentality ... I work really well with that. And I remember two very profound situations in my career. One being that, dropping out of college and not having a backup plan. So, I mean, I had no other choice. And when you are faced with something that you need to come in and push through, then yeah, you're going to make it happen, you know? I wouldn't say that I had people resist but I definitely had ... I would say I probably had 90 to 95 percent of the people telling me I was never going to make it as a pro skier. That I wasn't good enough, I would never make it and I should do something else.
So, what's their reaction now?
Suck it. No. I mean, the reaction now is just, I'm actually really grateful to be here, to be on this trip, to be in the mountains. And it's just so crazy because I will think back to being a kid and pretending that I was Kevin Andrews and my brother was Scot Schmidt and we're out in front of the camera skiing at the hill I grew up at. And it's just crazy that the dream has been realized, you know?
What do you think you would have done if you hadn't gone the ski bum route?
I don't know. I think I'm too driven to be homeless, living in a shack in Mex, surfing, but that's what I always thought I'd do. But I don't know, maybe an actor, probably an actor. I don't know.
So what characteristics does a ski bum have?
Hmm. I think the characteristics of a ski bum for me as somebody that truly loves being in the mountains and loves the sport. That loves to ski more than anything. And that, I think, is the key component to being a ski bum. Because if you don't love it, I mean, you're going to be doing something else. You're going to need more money. You're going to need this, you're going to need that. But when all you need is to be on a pair of skis in the mountains, that's a ski bum.
Let’s back it up a bit. Do you remember the first time you caught air?
I don't know if I remember the first time I caught air, but I definitely remember the first time that I stumped a cliff with my brother at Schweitzer. And that was a pretty profound moment for me because there was this one little cliff, it was probably a five footer, but I remember airing off of it, seeing my brother do it and then me doing it and skiing away. And that memory is just embedded in my psyche. That's crazy. I haven't thought of that memory in so long. Wow. I remember my brother going off, we had these bright one pieces. It was blue, pink, yellow and green and matching one pieces as kids. My brother was sending.
KC showing off some of his trademark playful style. | Eric Parker photo.
What does it feel like when you push your own boundaries?
I'd say when you push your own boundaries, I mean, it's scary sometimes but it's also fun and it's really gratifying. When you look at a line or a drop or whatever it is and you're not sure of the outcome, that's the feeling that you chase. It's being on that line where maybe you land it, maybe you don't but you think you can. That's a really cool feeling when you pull it off.
Has your comfort zone changed since you've been skiing every day?
Yeah. I mean, I would say my comfort zone is always growing, if you will. I mean, the stuff that used to scare me, it doesn't scare me as much. And I noticed I work into gnarlier and gnarlier terrain. And then I look back at stuff, even filming wise, since my career it's a start and I think, "Man, why didn't I ski that line? I should've skied that." And I'm like, "Oh man, maybe that was above my pay grade at the time." You know what I mean? So it's pretty cool to realize that and feel like you've pushed your boundaries a bit. It's always an evolution of learning, as a human. But also as a skier where, as you ski certain lines that pushes you to where you're more prepared for other lines.
How does confidence work for you?
I think the concept of confidence is fluid. It comes and it goes and it's good when you have it, you know? And I think as long as you keep a positive frame of mind now, the confidence is usually there. And a lot of it for me just comes with a snow pack. I mean, if I'm confident in a snow pack being stable and then also deep enough, then I mean, I'm pretty confident to just let her buck.
Do you feel like your desire to explore has evolved with your skiing?
Not really. I think that my desire to explore is just ever present. And that has always been there. And then as a skier, seeing all the places in the movies and magazines that I'd seen before all around the world, that was my drive as an athlete, partially at least, just to be able to go out and go find those places and ski those places I'd heard about.
Rumor has it that this face was the second skier on Instagram. | Eric Parker photo.
So you got to film at North Cascade Heli this year, what were your thoughts going into that?
All I heard about North Cascade Heli is they had insane terrain, and that it was awesome. That was the only thing that I heard from a handful of people that had already been here and I've been trying to come here for over 10 years, so it's pretty sick to finally make it.
You grew up not too far away from there, so is it kind of cool filling the blank spot on the map here, finally getting out here?
Yeah. I grew up about six, seven hours away and I came here in high school and middle school, but only in the summer. So for me to come here now, it's one of the few places in the Pacific Northwest that I hadn't really explored and I had always wanted to, so to make it here on this trip, it's just insane. It's so cool. It's interesting because before I came here, one of the things that I remember the most is when TGR was here. And so I expected to find big pillow stacks and then just crazy, big, cool bars, basically.
Tell us about riding in the PNW with Sage.
Being here was Sage is just... I don't even know how to do that. Being here with Sage, it's just kind of insane. Sage has been an inspiration for my career and my life path. And I have ridden bikes with Sage because he's an insane mountain biker. We were in Whistler and stuff and we had skied together over in Europe, but we've never actually done a trip together to film and to come to a place that he has spent a lot of time in and knows the terrain so well, it was really cool. It was really, really special. The cool thing about being out here with Sage is he knew it all so well. And then in some regards had forgotten it. So for him he was, "Oh, no way." "Oh, I've skied that." And he's like, "Oh, there. That's sick." And so it was really cool to be next to him and then he gets on top and it brings back these really cool memories while I'm experiencing something new. And then Sage is from the Northwest, and so am I, so it's just a really cool trip all together.
What were some of the highlights of the trip?
Oh man. Highlights of the trip. Getting in the bird. Pretty much anytime you can get in a helicopter, it's the sickest thing ever. Sometimes just getting in a helicopter is as good as going skiing. And getting to be out here with such a sick crew, the cines and the photog and just everybody on this trip has been unreal. I just remember thinking, I can't believe I'm here with this group of people and that was really, really cool meeting Colter. That kid's just so loose and so tight all at the same time, but Colter's rad. And then yeah getting to spend a couple of weeks with Sage. And we're also out in the middle of nowhere, and just to shut off and we spent almost every day out of service, you're present in the mountains and here with a crew it’s insane.
PNW or AK? | Eric Parker photo.
Tell us about how you accessed some of the terrain you filmed on?
The access here has been an all time potpourri of snowmobiles, ski touring, helicopters, or helicopter ski touring. It's a dream come true because if we can't get up in the bird, we can go out and go sledding. And then most of the days we're on our skins and we're touring and getting into terrain that I probably wouldn't have accessed 10 years ago because I just would have been sledding and being able to ski tour just opens up so much terrain. It's amazing.
What kind of crew do you need to accomplish going into an unknown zone?
I think you need a crew that's just like-minded. You need a crew that's safe, that is super motivated and is just stoked to be out here. And that's why it was so cool about this trip with TGR is that I knew everybody actually except Colter. And Colter and I have so many mutual friends, it was just a no-brainer to be on this trip. And to have everybody that's on the same page is super important. And it's cool because everybody had the like-minded vision for this trip and for exploring this area.
So what stokes your fire?
Oh man. What stokes my fire? Skiing pow, the boys and the girls. But Scan stokes my fire, find a new places, getting in helicopters, riding snowmobiles, touring, this winter waves. I don't know everything.