Before the current era of molecular-weight polyethylene skis, high-end metal-composite bindings and thermoplastic boots, people willingly carved their way down the mountain with waxed wooden planks strapped to their feet. Now that's extreme! It was one part ignorance and one part lunacy, but it was all good. And today's crop of fearless freestyle skiers wouldn't be ripping Half Cab Mute Grabs 14 feet in the air if it weren't for their Nordic ancestors.
We checked in with freestyle skiing pioneer Simon Dumont to find out how he goes about training and what inspired him to host a competition on his home mountain in Newry, Maine.
STACK: How did you get involved with freestyle skiing?
Simon Dumont: It was more of a passion than trying to be a pro or anything of that nature. I started skiing at Sunday River when I was three and just fell in love with the sport. I found out that an X Games qualifier was happening in California when I was 14, and I ended up qualifying…and, yeah, the rest is history.
STACK: How did you get noticed at such a young age?
SD: My brother was actually a pretty good snowboarder, and he had snowboard nationals in California. It was my first time out on the West Coast, and I was just skiing around in the park with a lot of pros that were there. There happened to be a team manager from Oakley and one of the really big clothing companies there, too. They noticed me while I was hitting the jumps, gave me their cards, and next thing I know I get sponsored. It was then that I realized that I can actually make a career doing what I love.
STACK: What is it like traveling the world at such a young age?
SD: It's amazing. I got to meet a ton of people when I was 14, and it is pretty much like traveling with all my best friends to some of the coolest places and skiing the best snow. I don't think I could ask for anything better.
STACK: Once you get to a competition, what's it like to compete against your best friends?
SD: We are all friends up there, and we do talk crap a little bit, but it's all in good fun. It's nice being up there with friends, because we're all rooting for each other. We all want to see each other land their runs. But in the end, we are still hoping we win. But there's no hostility up there if I win or one of my best friends wins. Either way, I'm psyched [and] we are going to have a good time celebrating.
STACK: How do you train for competitions?
SD: I train year-round. In summer, I ski in New Zealand and South America. I also do a lot of dry-land training in the gym, run and bike in order to keep in good shape. Pre-season is a pivotal time, as well. I bought a place in Colorado, and just hit jumps, ski and try some new tricks. I may fall a couple times, but hopefully the dry-land training over the summer helps me be able to get back up and try it again.
STACK: How do you go about learning a new trick?
SD: It's something that comes up in my head. I just go to the mountain, and I might be a little nervous when I first drop in, but that's just it. The first one is the toughest. You get the idea of the rotation, the air awareness, and you figure it out. And although you might not land it at first, as soon as you land it, you remember what you did. Then it's in your bag of tricks.
STACK: What are some of your favorite tricks?
SD: I have probably done 10 contests this year, and the big trick so far is Switch Hit in the halfpipe. Then there are Switch 1080s, which is going backwards and spinning three times while landing forward. It all depends on the contest. Everything changes so quickly, so you've got to be on top of your game.
STACK: What is going through your mind before dropping in on a run?
SD: I mostly visualize my run. I just make sure that I know what I am going to do as soon as I drop init's like I black out as soon as I drop in. I have no idea what happens. I get to the bottom, come back up, and hopefully people are cheering and I have a hand up.
STACK: What inspired you to sponsor the Dumont Cup?
SD: It's kind of tough for people to get noticed coming from the East Coast, because there's not much exposure to showcase your talent. So my home mountain, Sunday River, was nice enough to team up with me and build one of the sickest courses that the East Coast will ever see. Hopefully it will give a lot of kids the chance to showcase their talent.
STACK: What is unique about the competition?
SD: The unique thing is that it is on the East Coast. There have been contests out here before, but I brought a lot of good pros to the table for this event, and the venue is top notch. That's huge when you go to a contest. You want to make sure that all the features are good, and we made sure that everyone had fun. We had a unique format. It was a jam-session format, so you got three hours of just everyone skiing together. We picked out the top 15 from their performance to go into the finals. It made the event a little bit more laid back than the qualifiers.
STACK: What advice do you have for kids who have dreams of going pro?
SD: The biggest thing is to do it for the right reasons. If you start skiing because you love it, then all of a sudden you start getting worried about getting sponsors, becoming a pro, getting video segments, or anything of that nature, just make sure that you are still doing it for the right reasons. Yeah, you can be the best, but just make sure you are still having fun.
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