Lupe honed his skills in the streets, and has transferred his creative eye to the big mountains and parks throughout the world. His skiing has evolved into a dramatically individual style that cannot be replicated. His eye for unique features is off the charts.
Cover photo via Planks Clothing. Intro text via Slytech Protection.
Hey Lupe, how’s life?
Jason!!! Life has been great man. I had a pretty freak accident early December, where I fell on a stump covered in snow and broke my pelvis. I was super lucky though I didn’t need surgery and was back on skis in a little over a month. Getting back on skis has been great, as it’s where I am the most stoked.
Was this your first time in Quebec City?
It was my first time in the city. A few years back I went on an urban trip with Meat Heads and we stayed at ABM’s house, which was just outside of the city.
I think Quebec skiers have been at the forefront of urban skiing since day one. There are so many of the best urban skiers from Quebec and Montreal. BDog’s Refresh segment was not entirely filmed in Quebec but it’s for sure one of my all time favorite segments, and Phil one of my all time favorite skiers.
What are your plans for the rest of the season?
I am working on a film project that will be released in the fall. Keegan Kilbride, Kirk Scully, and myself have been the three main skiers so far, and Evan Lai-Hipp is our main filmer.
The film will consist of urban and backcountry building. There will definitely be more homies involved in the project as the season moves on. For a while now I have been filming my own stuff all winter and then giving my footage to someone to add to their movie, so I am super stoked to put something out that is fully created by the squad and myself.
Does this project have a name yet?
It still does not have a name. The plan is to enter the movie into iF3 Montreal, along with a movie premier tour. The crew is hoping to do around ten stops.
Where’s home base?
I am based out of Summit County, Colorado. I live in Silverthorne with Keegan. Living together, being teammates, and sharing the same passion for filming — it was a no-brainer for us to team up and make a project this season.
Are you lining up any big trips?
Last year I traveled to Japan and Korea. It was a super sick experience but extremely expensive and difficult at times not knowing the lay of the land.
This year I’ve focused on staying a bit more local. Being in areas you’re familiar with and having your own place to stay (or a friend’s) can not only help save money, but filming is often much more productive. I think most of the filming for our project will be done in Colorado, Utah, California, and Oregon.
This late spring I may go to a zone in Montana I have been looking into and camp out there for a week or two and build booters the whole time. Everything is very up in the air, though. Kinda just living day by day right now.
Are you talking about Beartooth Basin?
The zone is not Beartooth Basin.
I really want the whole project to be a surprise. As a crew, we have been trying to stay quiet about what we have been up to. You will have to wait till this fall to see what ends up coming together.
Have you done much ski touring?
I have a decent amount of experience with ski touring. One of the first times I got to use a touring set up was a few season back in Colorado.
Japan was my first true backcountry film trip. I was there for a little over two weeks and the crew was touring every day. I really enjoy that aspect of skiing and can forsure see myself moving in that direction as I get older.
My favorite times touring have been in the spring, though. I love getting up super early and exploring zones to build features in. Spring building in the backcountry is something I look forward to all winter. There’s nothing better than being in the mountains with your buddies, hanging out, and building features all day.
We just crossed paths at the Red Bull Redirect. Tell us about that event.
To get a personal invite from one of street skiing’s legends, JF Houle, was a huge honor. Redirect’s judging format and course layout were different than anything I have skied in before. It never felt like a comp, more so a group of homies just sessioning together and building off each other’s skiing. I have been involved with many different rail jam set ups and formats over the years, and the Redirect was definitely the best one so far.
What made the event so great?
I think all the various aspects really helped create one of the dopest events I have ever been a part of. The park crew [Today’s Parks] did such an amazing job and everything on the course was perfectly shaped. The rider list was unlike any other comp line up I have seen. JF definitely killed it hand picking all the athletes — there were so many different styles of skiing.
Who were you most excited to watch ski?
I was super stoked to watch Charles Gagnier ski, unfortunately, he got hurt during the first heat and wasn’t able to compete. Heal up fast man!
Also, during practice Frank Raymond was lapping the course with everyone and it was pretty damn cool to ski with him!
Who impressed you the most during the competition and why?
I would have to say, Emile, as he was skiing with so much style and consistency. His lip 270 on top of the first wall was insane and also the left 270 into the bottom wall was so damn sick.
Did you have a favourite feature?
That down flat hubba was my favorite feature for sure. If I had to pick a favorite trick it would be 180 gap to flat on the hubba. I was hyped on that one.
Does skiing need more events like this?
Absolutely. I think this could be a great future for competition style of skiing. It focuses more on creativity than who is doing the most spins or flips. A street rail jam series would be the illest. The deciding factor is if there will be companies that want to make it happen by supporting it financially.
JF mentioned that Street League Skateboarding had an influence on his vision for Red Bull Redirect, and I think creating a series for skiing based on Street League could be extremely positive for our sport. An event like Redirect is great exposure for us. Because the set up is in the middle of a city it is easily accessible for spectators and exposes more people to our style of skiing. Hopefully then getting more people into skiing and growing our sport!
Why don’t more skiers openly discuss salaries or contracts?
Well, I think for a lot of contracts there are privacy disclosures. Other than that I’m not exactly sure why it’s not something discussed more. It’s tough though being “homies” with everyone in the industry. Know one really wants to hear someone is getting paid more. I definitely think there are athletes in the industry that have very similar abilities on skis but do not get paid the same.
I think the “obligations” of being a professional skier now compared to 10 years ago is much different. There was a time when sponsors were approaching athletes at events with contracts on the spot. Nowadays there are some of the best skiers out struggling to find a ski or outerwear sponsor. An athlete must be more than a skier now. An athlete needs to be a personality, a businessman, a social media icon, filmer, editor, etc. I think all those qualities play a huge role in the type of success athletes can find today. You need to be the whole package.
We’re going to interrupt you there, and let you know that that would be illegal —
Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), all workers have the right to engage “concerted activity for mutual aid or protection” and “organize a union to negotiate with [their] employer concerning [their] wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” Source
It’s funny in other professional sports everyone, including the general public, knows how much each athlete is getting paid. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. If athletes in the ski industry were open with each other about contracts it may be helpful for some people to have that info to base off of.
Do you think that’s an issue?
I wouldn’t call it an issue, but I think there are a lot of under compensated athletes in our industry. I think it could only help to talk about it. Just bring more awareness across the board I guess?
Do you think there are any overcompensated athletes in our industry?
I think the gap between certain athlete retainers is quite ridiculous. How can a company justify paying one athlete 50,000$k and then barely scrape up a couple thousand dollars for other professional athletes on the same team?
How many dollars did you make from skiing last winter?
So let’s get this one straight for all the younger guys or people who think they know what’s going on with the industry. I’ve been working landscaping 40-50 hours a week since I was 14. I would start working when the mountains close in the spring and save every dime until the mountains open again in the fall. Last season was the first year I was not in debt as the season came to an end. I had enough money to drive across the country to CT and start working and continue the cycle.
I’ve put all my money, heart, and soul into skiing. If I look at the personal money I’ve invested into my skiing compared to the money given to me by sponsors, it doesn’t come close. By no means and I financially ballin’ — I am just getting by.
How much money do you estimate spending on skiing each season?
It’s really tough to say, but with all the little things that add up, I would estimate at least $5000 to $10,000 USD per season. [10,000 USD = ~13,325 CAN]
How much money, over a career, do you think it takes to become a professional?
To be honest I’m terrible at estimations like that. But in my opinion, two of the most important factors to becoming a professional skier are support and drive. It’s crucial to have someone or a group of people support your dream. From a young age, I was extremely lucky to have been introduced to skiing and then continue to meet people that would help further my dream of being a pro skier. Without my family and friends, I would be nowhere.
You can have all the support in the world but if you don’t want it bad enough it doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t work hard and want it bad enough, it will never happen.
Our sport is so funny. Over the years, I have seen a lot of skiers come and go. There are so many stories of super talented kids coming from a well off family that just didn’t care or have the drive to work for it.
What are your sponsors giving you this winter?
I’m not comfortable sharing that information.
Do you mind us asking why not?
Do you have any advice for those scared to stand up for themselves and speak their mind?
If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will. It’s pretty lame that so many Team Managers try and take advantage of athletes.I think too many athletes hold their tongue when we actually need to be voicing our opinions. Too many athletes are scared that if they don’t jump through hoops for their sponsors, that they will be dropped. Something to remember, these brands would not be credible without athletes supporting their brands. Don’t forget that they need us. A business relationship is a two-way street.
As an athlete, what are your options when you have been wronged by an employer?
People need to speak up when they have been wronged. If you don’t then nothing will change. I think bringing shit public instead of keeping it hush-hush is the only way. Let the general public or the consumer be the judge of a situation. Like for instance with Orage if that full story of how they treated their athletes went public I think it would shed some light on people on NS who don’t always know the full story behind industry business. It wasn’t a one-time thing there was a history of athletes getting screwed over.
What song gets you fired up in the morning? That’s tough man, I really LOVE music. There are so many genres and artists I am super down with. The past week or two I have been doing mad work on my computer. Waking up really early and bumping some Gang Starr, lyrically Guru is a GENIUS! I also am a big Grateful Dead fan. The music produced between the 60s and early to mid-90s is the best EVER. Doesn’t matter what genre, during those time periods the best music was produced. Reggae, Classic Hip Hop, and, of course, Classic rock.
Go-to snack while shooting? Gummy worms or bears.
What comes to mind when you think of Canada? Ummmm beautiful women in Quebec or Montreal, I like French Canadian ladies haha. And of corse poutine!!!!!
What comes to mind when you think of SBC Skier? Jason Mousseau!
Favourite street skier? Damn that’s a tough one, so many dope street skiers. Top three:
1. Phil Casabon (creativity, style)
2. Shea Flynn ( both way tricks all day )
3. Noah Albaladejo ( style )
Favourite park skier? I am going to tie this one into comp skiers. I really get stoked watching ABM compete. His hand drag onto a down rail at Breck Dew Tour was so dope!
Best Canadian skier? Phil Casabon
Most inspirational skier? I get inspiration from everyone and everything around me but time and time again Karl Fostvedt is always keeping me so stoked. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Karl at Hood and in Utah over the past few seasons. Not only is he always charging so hard and always grateful to be skiing. But Karl is one of the most positive and stoked individuals I have met. It is so cool to be around a skier that is extremely talented and accomplished but the most modest dude you will meet.