Tan­ner Hall

Ski & Snow - - Interview - In­ter­view and Pho­tos by Chris O’Con­nell - www.chriso­con­nell.com Com­piled by Chris O’Con­nell

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

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