S&S: You’ve been at the top of your game for years…. What is it that drives you?
TH: I have plans in my head that I spend a lot of time thinking about. Then when you actually get to execute those plans it feels really good. I am extremely calculated with the choices that I make and I am progressing and doing new things each year. That’s what is exciting to me is to progress as an athlete. When you can conceptualize what is next and then go out and do it that is what fuels me as a skier and a person. S&S: You are very unique in the fact that you can think of things that haven’t been done and go out and do them. You create new ways of doing things on skis that other skiers emulate. Why is that?
TH: I have a lot of outside influences. I skateboard a lot, I watch skate and snowboard movies and draw from those influences into skiing. Things like nollies and tail presses are things that most skiers don’t do and they are fun and different. I watch the progression of other sports and I always want to up the ante…
S&S: Tell me something about the comp scene that we don’t know… TH: Contests for me right now are a little different than they used to me. This year I didn’t really care too much about them.
S&S: You didn’t care too much about them, but you still won the three biggest half pipe comps in the world hands down (X Games, US Open, World Half Pipe Championships. TH: I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did, but after US Open I got a little more stoked. I went into the X Games with a lot of drive and momentum. The weird thing about the contest thing is that it is kind of like a circus tour, all the same kids, same tricks and different parks. The level is increasing every year but for me right now that is not what it is all about, I prefer to expand my horizons in different places.
S&S: What goes through your head when you are sitting at the top of the X Games pipe, with 10,000 people watching, and a 100 million more on TV and you are getting ready to drop and you know you need the run to win it? TH: I don’t feel any pressure, I just block everything out. I just zone into what I have to do. I’ll take one look at the crowd and the pipe before I drop and then just do my thing. When you are standing there you can here the roar of the crowd and the people at the start gate talking to you but when you drop you don’t hear anything at all. I am so zoned in that it is hard to screw up, I am dialed in, I don’t feel any pressure at that point, I am just having fun.
S&S: Tell us about the culture that surrounds pipe and parkers? TH: I think it’s cool. It’s growing, it’s getting crazy. Kids have more opportunities now instead of just moguls and racing. You can make a name for
yourself and make a living doing it. The sport is opening more doors for kids around the world and I am stoked on all the kids participating, it’s awesome to see it all over the world now. It’s getting huge in Europe finally, which is a traditionally race influenced society. It’s fun and new and exciting, it’s here to stay. Kids should enjoy the park, learn their tricks and then they can broaden their horizons in skiing, like I am just starting to do right now as far as powder and backcountry skiing. S&S: What is the next thing in the progression of skiing?
TH: Going to the big mountain and shredding sick stuff, go scare yourself a little bit. Hit a cliff or a steep rollover, put a little kicker on it and do a 40-foot cab 900 off it. Haven’t been building those huge kickers that much lately, it’s been nicer to just stomp out a takeoff and hit it. Use the natural terrain; basically make art out of it. There are definitely two ways to think about the progression of skiing. I have spoken with Jon (Olsson) about it and he feels that progression is in the park, big huge park kickers and new tricks. He doesn’t want to ski a lot of powder, he wants to do double flips and hit big park jumps. That’s really cool, but it’s not where I want to take my skiing, I want to progress outside of the park, be able to shred big lines and be one with the mountain. S&S: Everyone says they want to take park stuff to the backcountry, it’s almost cliché, but you are one of the few people who are actually doing it.
TH: It’s a whole different element of skiing: bigger skis, more snow, avalanche conditions. I am just trying to have the most elements that I can excel at across the board. I like to ski the park and pipe but when the snow is deep, I’d rather be out there skiing pillow lines, cliffs and steep trees. S&S: I guess you can say you are trying to be well rounded.
TH: That would be fair to say. If you are a skier, you should be able to ski everything. Pipe, park, rails, and powder. S&S: What about the Olympics?
TH: There is no reason that Half Pipe Skiing shouldn’t be in the Olympics. It will be but it may be tough for 2010. There are a lot of people working on it right now and I hope it happens. They don’t have to build any new arena and it would be great for the sport of skiing, it would breathe new life into a sport that is viewed by the masses as traditional. S&S: We get characters over here filling the backs of their cars with snow and taking it down to their favorite urban rails; then of course sssslllidding iiittt!!!!! Then having a few issues with the law… you MUST have a good story here?
TH: Not really. I am not into filling the car with snow then driving a long ways to set up a rail. It’s been pretty mellow and the cops will just tell you to leave if they don’t want you there. I would rather just do rails when the snow is there. We have been going to Finland the last couple years and Salt Lake is always good in the early season when we get big storms. S&S: Some of the sickest photo’s I’ve seen of you have been taken by legend photographer and friend Chris O’Connell… In your opinion what makes him so good?
TH: He gets the job done. He has more experience than any ski photographer out there; he comes from a snowboard background, knows the angles and just kills it. I know when I am working with him he’s going to get the shot and it is going to look good. S&S: You injured yourself in 2004, ya broke both ya ankles mate…. Ddduuudddee! (haaa the injury question?) Talk us through the sequence of events that lead up to that injury? TH: Jon Olsson and I built ‘Chad’s Gap’ and we wanted to hit it switch so we spent about three days getting the runway perfect. The first day we hit it I got some switch fives and a switch 9. The next day, I did a switch 180, a switch 5 and a switch 9. The switch 9 was the best one I did. Then I went back up because the helicopter was coming in to film. There was some hold time and the runway got slow because it heated up a little. I was just a little too slow and landed about 5 feet short, smacked the wall and blew up my feet. S&S: What were the injuries?
TH: Two broken talus’ both ankles and two broken calcaneus’s’. S&S: What was the prognosis?
TH: It was pretty serious. The doctor said I might never ski again, or at least on a competitive level. I had to take my rehab serious. I got back on my skis and rode a lot of powder this year and kept it mellow.
S&S: There’s a rumor going round NZ that you’re a tight bastard and didn’t want to pay for the ambulance… what’s the story with insurance considering what you do?
TH: Not sure what that is all about, I have insurance. S&S: When you get injured badly… you just block it out when you get back on the horse? You were bed ridden for 3 months and had to use a mechanics crawler to go to the bathroom. How do you come back from that mentally?
TH: I just want to be able to ski the rest of my life. I was more motivated to ski than ever. It’s the power of being positive. There was only one way to go and that was ahead. S&S: You used to be sponsored by Rossignol and then in 2002 changed to Armada. The way I look at it skiing is now backed by huge corporate investors. But this is different for Armada and you’re also very involved with the brand?
TH: ARMADA in 2002 was a great idea at a great time. The big ski brands weren’t paying attention to what we were doing and considered the sport not important and didn’t see it as I did: the future of skiing. I wanted something new for skiing and that is why I switched over. ARMADA is the best thing to happen to skiing ever. The skis are insane, there is no way I could do what I do without those skis, the marketing is great and all ideas come directly from the team. It is truly a rider driven company. It has
been a catalyst for change throughout the whole industry; all the companies are now trying to follow what we are doing.
S&S: Jibbing is growing exponentially in this country and you’re no doubt familiar with SnowParkNZ and the sick parks at all the major ski fields in NZ now. Are we becoming the talk of Northern Hemisphere as a place to hang over your summer?
TH: For sure. Everyone wants to go there. It’s such a good place to train. You can ski TC and go heli when the snow is good and then of course lap SnowPark all day and hit grade A jumps and a perfect pipe the other days. S&S: You spent some time out here (NZ) a few years back with the Armada team and OC (Chris O’Connell)…. Goodtimes?
TH: Yeah, it was amazing. New Zealand is such a great country. It was a good place to get away from the crowds and practice new tricks right before the season. The ARMADA team is coming back this year in full force! S&S: Highlights?
TH:Sunset shoots with OC at SnowPark. This year, it is going to be the heli accessed goods.
S&S: What has been your focus lately?
TH: A lot of natural terrain stuff. It’s been great to just stomp a take off out and go. Not worry so much about building huge kickers all the time. I have been trying to ski everything, from half pipe to good urban rails and obviously big mountain stuff.
S&S: Did you meet up with any of our up and coming superstar legends; Wells bro’s etc?
TH: Josie and Byron (Wells) are definitely some of the new generation of park skiers. They are humble little kids and I am stoked on them. Tori is ripping as well, she hangs out in Wanaka during the winter there. S&S: Every pro rider wants to make ski flicks; is there more money in that for you guys?
TH: Definitely not. I lose money every year but the cool thing is we compile the footage and we have full control over it. It comes out how we want it. It is our film not someone else’s. S&S: Tell us about your film this year.
TH: It’s called Show and Prove; it’s the only film I will be in this year. It is a travel-based film chronicling our year. It’s the story of a journey of CR and I and our winter and our buddies that we ski with along the way. S&S: Let’s talk about CR, tell us about what happened?
TH: He had an accident at Brighton Ski Resort in December; he was skiing with a group of people filming for Show and Prove. CR tried to do a trick over a knoll and caught an edge and fell. Kye followed right behind him having no idea he fell and clipped CR’s noggen. CR kinda went to bed for a few weeks. He woke up and started his road to recovery. Right now he is doing better than ever, he is charging through, he should be up on his skis next year. S&S: How has that affected you?
TH: It’s tough, he’s my best friend. When I heard about it I was in Finland. I was supposed to go to Mammoth and train for X but I went to Salt Lake and hung out with CR instead. I spent a good amount of time with him over the New Years and he was out at X Games to cheer us all on. It gives me a lot of motivation; I am out there doing it for him this year. S&S: We going to see you out here this season?
TH: For sure, not a doubt about it. I will be there to fly in some helicopters and go to Snowpark! Can’t wait. I really like New Zealand.
Josiah (“Joss”) Wells is the best and most complete skier in New Zealand by an Otago mile. He dominates the local competition landscape across a broad range of events, including racing and big-mountain freeskiing (what used to be called “extreme” skiing). It is as a halfpipe and slopestyle skier, however, that have earned Joss, at just fifteen years old, a place amongst the World’s best.
Slopestyle and halfpipe are the most spectacular and accessible forms of freeskiing. Both events involve a spectator-pleasing combination of stunt work and technical trickery. Twin tip skis are essential as is a combination of air sense, gymnastic ability and relaxed style. The oldfashioned concept of what makes an expert skier (like balance and strong edge hold) remain crucial. Joss’s international competition results are stellar. He has made his mark at the premier events on the international freeskiing circuit where the kudos and lucrative cash prizes attract the world’s best skiers like Tanner Hall and TJ Schiller. Joss placed second at the Aspen Open Slopestyle behind American rockstar skier Peter Olenick. Joss’s run included an impressive switch truck driver 540 (ski into the jump backward, spin oneand-a-half times, grab both skis 30cms below the tips like you’re driving, well, a truck and finally land forwards) off the 55-foot Channel Gap and a switch mute 900 off the 65-foot Last Chance Kicker. Maaaad!!!!
Austrian ski manufacturer Atomic, recognizing his results and potential, has signed him to their international ski team. Joss is only the second Kiwi, after big mountain ripper Todd Windle, to be so elevated by any ski company. (New Zealand Atomic distributor Brandex has supported Joss and his brother Byron for over five years). This is the equivalent of securing a drive for a Formula One team. In a sport that requires constant international travel this support is necessary to get to, and stay at the top.
All the dedication in the world wouldn’t matter were it not for talent Joss delivers with a range of tricks and skills that place him at the forefront of his sport. Joss’s current results – mixing it up with the world’s top ten - are newsworthy. At just fifteen his potential is news shattering. Ski and Snow wishes Jossi all the best for the future – go hard big guy…
Tanner in Finland
Location: BC. Not to bad Tanner... for a hucker!
Location: BC. Busting through the powder pillows...
Tanner 270 on, 270 off.
Name: Tanner Hall Height: 5’8” Weight: 140lb Years of Experience: A whole lifetime. Lives in: Park City, Utah. Favourite Hill/Park: Park City Has skied in: A lot of places. Ski’s because: I love it. Girlfriends: (a big long pause)…. “What was her name”...
Location: Snowpark NZ Photo: Camilla Stoddart - www.whiteroompictures.com