Catchin’ up w/ Will

This year you won the first ever X Games Real Ski. First of all, congrats! What went into making that segment?

Thanks a lot!  I had a lot of help from friends along the way with places to stay, finding spots, and of course the occasional bungee or winch.  Once I got word to start filming in early December, Jonny Durst and I packed up and hit the road immediately. Just like any street filming, we had our ups and downs, but with the weather somewhat cooperating(for once), we we able to criss cross the west and hit some of the spots I’ve been waiting a few years for.

Just like any season, we had some early mornings, a few late nights and a whole lot of driving, shoveling and scoping.  The difference came in that it was all crammed into a shorter time period.  In a normal season hitting street, I would do something like one or two weeks on, one or two weeks off, to let the body heal and keep the mind sane, but 6 weeks in a row was definitely more exhausting.

Were there any other competitors that really stood out to you? Why?

It sounds pretty cliche, but everyone killed it.  I remember watching all the videos the day of the judging and after watching them two times we still had no idea how it would go.  

Here are your @xgames #realski winners! @willwesson and @jonnydurst #sbcskier #skiing #xgames #newschoolers

A photo posted by SBC Skier Magazine (@sbcskier) on

What are the pros and cons with an event like Real Ski? Do you plan to compete again next winter?

Doing that much street in a row definitely pushes you to your physical and mental limits.  It really tests your ability to go as hard as you can and get as close to your limits a possible without crossing them and getting hurt.  After talking with the other guys at the end, I know at least one separated shoulder, torn knee ligaments, bruised hip/ribs, concussions, stitches and back injuries went into the making of these videos(I’m sure there’s more).  

At the same time, you are pushed just a bit harder than normal, resulting in some of the best shots of your life, which is very rewarding after the fact.  As for competing again, I’m undecided.  For me, filming or watching a video part is more for inspiration and sharing ideas than comparing who is the best or craziest.  

It’s a little ironic to turn what was once the alternative to contests(filming for a video) back into something judged, but it’s also cool to be recognized for hard work.  For now, I could go either way, but I know a lot of guys would love to have a chance at Real Ski and there’s only so many riders invited.  

What do you look for when scoping urban?

There’s kind of an unwritten check list I guess.  First, is that physically possible? Is there speed some how?  If yes, then what is the bust factor? Is it really worth it?  Is there something more interesting or unique we can spend our time doing?   What makes this spot stand out? Will we be able to get away with it and what time do we need to come back to make it happen?  And finally, what are the dangerous parts of this feature and how do I avoid them?

If you were to hazard guess, how many “spots” do you currently have in the bank?

Way too many.  It’s something you can’t turn off.  Everyday you see more possibilities no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  

#tbt to a big scary slide in #Japan while filming for @level1’s “Small World” Photo by Taka Nakanishi

A photo posted by Will Wesson (@willwesson) on

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in becoming a professional skier? Has that changed from the days you were coming up?

Breaking through the constant stream of videos and photos.  I don’t know if it’s necessarily harder or easier, but the scale has definitely changed.  

When I started out, one would post their video on Newschoolers and pretty much everyone on NS watched them.  If they were cool, your video would probably have life of a few weeks or more on the top rated section.  That was one of maybe three places to post and watch ski videos so you could get an idea for who was producing good stuff pretty quickly.  Now there’s a hundred other places to watch them and a million other videos.  

What has been the biggest “constant” obstacle you’ve faced throughout your career?

Probably just weather.  You can always try and deal with what you have, but sometimes nature just says nope, not happening today.  Try again.

Have you given retirement much thought? When will you know the time is right to hang up your ski boots?

Not really.   As long as I’m happy with what I’m doing and can afford it, I’ll keep skiing.  If it stops being fun for some reason, then I’ll do something else.  There’s obviously limits to what your body can take with big jumps and halfpipe, but luckily I tend to focus on things that are lower impact and hopefully more sustainable in the long term.

What’s your plan afterwards? Where do you see yourself in five years? In fifteen?

I don’t know what I’m doing a week from now, so five years is a bit much to ask.   I would imagine anyone who plans fifteen years in advance is super boring.  

You did a bunch of traveling after filming for Real Ski. Mind giving us a quick summary of where you went and what you got up to?

After a bit of skiing/scoping/shoveling in Colorado, I drove home and moved out of my house in Salt Lake City, Utah.  A couple days later, I flew to the main island of Japan for a week long road trip with Japanese friends to get photos for BravoSki Magazine.  

After that, I flew to China for five days to take part in the Winter FISE demo as part of the X Dragon Winter Festival.  Next, I went on a last minute unplanned trip to Les Arcs, France for a week at B&E Invitational.  My original plan resumed back in Asia, and I flew back to Japan to meet up with Sami Ortlieb, Rob Heule, Garrett Russell and our Japanese friend TBS for some Level 1 filming.  

Two and a half weeks later, I arrived in Seattle for the Line Skis Team shoot at Snoqualmie.  We continued that shoot into the filming of a Washington State Traveling Circus Episode and visited Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge.  Everyone except me flew or drove home and I drove the TC Van down to Portland and skied Timberline one day before flying to the Bay Area to visit family and catching a ride with friends to Mammoth where I’m currently typing this.  

Next up is WCS in a few days!!!

Good to be back at @mammothunbound for few days! Photo thanks to @oppcreative #mammothunbound

A photo posted by Will Wesson (@willwesson) on

You’re hanging in Mammoth right now — what brings you there?

We originally planned to be filming for TC in Scandinavia right now, but Andy unfortunately got injured so that trip was cancelled.  I was left with some free time and decided to visit some family in the Bay Area. I saw some friends would be in Mammoth and then driving to WCS after around the same time so I hopped a greyhound bus to meet them and ski a bit.

How important is it to support rider owned brands, events, and media? Would you care to name a few you proudly back?

Whether it be producing entertaining videos, holding cool events or making quality products, any group that offers something that gets you stoked to ski deserves your support.  

I don’t think they necessarily need to be owned by riders, but 99% of the time they know what’s up and will be the ones making what you want.  I’ll pay respect to a few of the smaller brands/crews/events that are keeping it real and just in some cases getting by.  Yoke Collection, Treefort, Wizard Wax, HG Skis trailer/movie was sick, Keeshlife guys, the Bunch, SLVSH, Trashparty, T Crew in Japan, The Crapules in France, The Crans Montana Spring Session, Creation Nation, WCS(obviously) and a big shout out to parks like Trollhaugen and Mission Ridge.

Another from @mammothunbound a couple days ago thanks to @oppcreative #mammothunbound

A photo posted by Will Wesson (@willwesson) on

So there’s are some brands, events, and media that are doing it right. Let’s switch gears — who in the ski industry needs a swift kick in the ass? Why?

I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong way.  

I assume you’ll go out of business, or get fired if you don’t make smart choices, but I’d love to see sponsors show more support for quality over quantity in athletes, events and skiing media in general.  I think everyone might be spreading themselves too thin these days, but I realize it’s hard to keep up with the constant stream of media we are exposed to.  

Is this your first WCS?

Nope, I’ve been to multiple past years.

What makes WCS so special among athletes and content creators?

It’s a laid back session at the end of year where skiers and video/photo guys from different backgrounds can come together and have a good time while producing some quality content.  It doesn’t matter if you were filming a street part all winter, hiking pow, or lapping park, everyone’s there for the same reason, it’s the end of the year and it’s time to ski some slush.

Do you have a favourite memory from a WCS?

Probably just the general making of the video and year of Team Home Movies when Shane McFalls used old cameras to film part of the edit.  

Who are you most excited to ski with this year?

I haven’t seen the full list of everyone yet, but it’s always fun to ski with some of the foreign guys who come over for WCS and are super stoked on everything.

Talk to us a bit about Ethan Stone, one of the masterminds behind the WCS?

Ethan’s been around forever and knows what’s up with everything Hood.  He’s paid all his dues from Tline park crew, to classic hood camp life, to Govy local and more recently shaping crazy parks in Europe like 9 Knights, so there’s no one better to be in charge of organizing WCS.  Not to mention, he skis year round and way more than any other event organizer I know.  I’d say that’s where the real passion to continually pull off an event like WCS comes from.

Have you ever considered running your own event?

Definitely.  As soon as I learn how to plan a few months in advance I will get back to you on that one.  We’ll see what the future brings.

Classic S rail at @timberlinelodge today. Big thanks to @jakesouthardvisuals for the shot!

A photo posted by Will Wesson (@willwesson) on

Thanks for taking the time Will! Any last words of advice?

If you have the opportunity to go on a trip somewhere, take it and see what happens.