This season Sego skier Isaac Freeland qualified to ski on the Freeride World Tour. We asked him to outline the basics of making the jump from chairlift day-dreaming (our current stage), to the open-to-all Qualifiers, to the sports highest level. Thanks for this Isaac; we’ll watch you on the tour in 2020, and, after reading this, be there ourselves in 2021! Isaac on Beartooth Pass Photo: Kevin Kinzley
Step 1: Ski! - All the time; but not too much.
Step 1 to making the FWT is to go skiing! Push yourself and be at the top of your game when the FWQ competitions start up. But, you still need to listen to your body. Sore from yesterday? take a day off the hill. Feeling inspired? Get up there as fast as possible! Getting better is all about pushing yourself in little increments. Don't get lazy. Did you hit that cliff and miss the grab? Then get back up there and get it right! Often, I will find a line down the mountain that inspires me and then lap it a few times in order to become comfortable the whole way down. If it gets too easy, I just change up the tricks or try and do it faster.
Photo: Kevin Kinzley
Step 2: Commit - Get your butt up and travel!
After you're signed up for an event and get confirmation that you're on the start list, hit up everyone you might remotely know going to the event! Most people will be looking to carpool to save on gas and emissions. Also, it's likely someone more on top of it than you has already booked a spot and is looking for people to fill it with. Last year, I texted a friend from a mountain on the upcoming schedule. He didn't live there anymore. But, he linked me up with one of his friends who said he had a room I could crash in. When I rolled up to the address it turned out to be a room in employee housing located on the base of the hill that had ski in ski out access!
Step 3: Compete - Every day skiing is the most fun day ever!
You don't need to get first at the first event. It’s not a bad look. But, being in first means you have a target on your back. That can play with you mentally if you're not prepared for it. It's best to not worry about what place you are trying to end up in. Instead, just ski how you normally would on the most fun day ever: ‘cause every day skiing is the most fun day ever! Develop a routine that works for you and allows you to ski in that mindset.
I like to eat the same thing for breakfast every day during the competition, usually oatmeal. Get up on time, not too early or late. I figure out what line is calling my name the loudest then picture myself skiing it. Before my actual competition run I like to ski a solid lap, or boot-pack up as fast as I can to warm up. Then, before dropping in I tap my poles together and let it rip!
Photo: Kevin Kinzley
Step 4: The Gear - Must be the skis
Ride in what makes you comfortable. Don't switch up what you're used to just because you're competing. My favorite pieces of gear are the ones I wear every day. And, those are the same pieces that turn into my "lucky" gear when I start competing. This is especially true for skis, the worst thing to be thinking about when you are about to drop in to a competition line is “Am I on the right equipment?” Therefore, find a setup you like and always ride that setup during competitions, no matter the conditions. For me, that's the Big Horn. I ride the same ski year round. So, I know exactly what the ski is going to feel like in every condition.