Updated: November 17, 2009, 12:05 PM ET

Dash Longe and Early Art at Alta

Dash Longe and the artful struggle for powder turns... in early October.

Mutrie By Tim Mutrie
Archive

With the opening of Arapahoe Basin this morning and Loveland on Wednesday, U.S. ski areas in operation now number two. (Make it three if you count Rabbit Peak at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort.) The Colorado resorts are offering up single paved-road style runs (customarily referred to as white ribbons of death), still, skiing's skiing and it's the earliest lift-served skiing in Colorado since the winter of '69 (or something). Even Coloradoan Seth Morrison was so moved by the Oct. 7th opening day that he called into ESPN Freeskiing's mobile command center/Loveland to ask about the scene (fun), conditions (decent) and free, tasty donuts (tasty).

The scene is a stark contrast to Utah."No chairlifts are running in Utah," Colorado Ski Country USA delegates might like to point out today. Still, lesser-publicized buzz about an early rippening of Western winter is coming out of Utah's Little Cottonwood Canyon (as usual).

Dash Longe's iPhoneBefore ski lifts turn at Alta one must adopt a certain throwback style known as walking up hill. Greener and Pete O'Brien do so.

And Dash Longe wasn't answering his phone Monday; same-same for Tuesday and Wednesday. This meant Dash was skiing. Or it meant he didn't care to talk to us. Or both. Fortunately, Dash was skiing—and skiing powder. Hell, today his ski season is already three powder days old.

We finally caught up with the early adopting Dash yesterday and of course we talked skiing. But Dashiell Longe isn't just about skiing—he's named after the mystery writer Dashiell Hammet (The Maltese Falcon (1930), The Thin Man (1934)) and his parents and twin brother, Hunter, are artists—so we talked about art, skiing, style, skiing-as-art, Tall Ts, TGR's Re:Session, skier artistes, powder, freeskiing genres of art, film photography vs. digital, philosophy, and then some more skiing.

ESPN Freeskiing: Alta looks... pretty nice for early October. DASH LONGE: "A friend went to check it out after the first storm, which was mid-week last week, and he said there were people up there so we knew it was skiable. Then we went up after another little storm Sunday night. And it was good. It was blizzarding that first day, Monday, and our tracks were filled in mostly for Tuesday."

Conditions? "I mean it was full on early-season skiing; little bushes and trees and plants and rocks and dirt still everywhere. But there's enough coverage so you could ski for a couple hundred feet at a time without hitting a rock. In certain spots you couldn't even feel rocks. Then in others you were definitely hitting rocks; definitely."

Pete O'BrienSome October 6th's are better than others.

"Wednesday we went and skied off High Boy and there were only two other tracks. It was like skiing a foot of fresh pow."

Have you ever skied powder any earlier? "Hmm. Good question."

Thanks. "I don't really think so. I remember when I was little in Tahoe—if it snowed, we'd go to the golf course and set up jibs and stuff. But that was a long time ago, and I don't remember it this early. Usually it's around Halloween. So, to your question, yes this is probably the earliest I've ever skied."

And now you live in Salt Lake. "I moved here... in early December five years ago. I was 19."

Thoughts on your segment in the latest TGR film? "I'm happy. It's pretty spread out. I got a lot of talking in, a lot of interview shots and voice overs, so I made certain sections for a little while. But I feel like, I mean, I had an injury—a pretty bad concussion up at Bald Face doing an Under Armor shoot—so I missed all of April and I definitely missed out on some good shoot time. But overall I'm stoked with the footage I have in there. But I always want more and better. I'm definitely hard on myself. Whenever I see the movie each year, I just want more and better. But there's a lot of athletes and you've gotta think about it from their perspective too, balancing all that."

How long have you been filming with TGR? "This is my fifth consecuvtive season with them, but I worked with them in the past on one of their jib movies when I was 16. I'm trying to think of the name of the movie. Hmmmm. It'll come to me; I even had the cover. But then I didn't work with them for a couple years, I was doing other stuff, with Eric Iberg and Tanner and Poor Boyz. But then I got the opportunity to film with TGR full time and I was stoked. That's when I moved to Salt Lake."

Pete O'BrienThis isn't October 5th, 6th or 7th at Alta. This was last winter at Brighton.

Describe your genre of skiing. "Ummm. I wouldn't say I'm a park skier. I know there's a couple years a while back where most of my shots in movies and magazines were park, but I guess I'd say I don't like to classify myself as a big mountain skier, because that's more the Dana [Flahr], [Ian] McIntosh, Seth-type of skier. I like to hit kickers and link lines through cliffs and my main goal is a little bit of everything; to show I can ski a lot of different stuff. I don't know what the name of that would be? Freeride enthusiast? I do like to ski a lot of pow. That's my main goal in life. Ski a lot of pow. And jump off sh--."

College? "I've done a couple semesters at the community college in Salt Lake, but I started to get more busy with TGR in the falls; going to premieres for my sponsors. So I had a rough time—trying to do a full credit load of school, working and then traveling for that stuff. I kind of burned myself out. And then when the early pow days come you've gotta go to class, which sucks. So it's been hard to balance everything, but it's definitely been on my mind."

Your school of life includes a lot of art. Please explain. "Both my parents are artists. My dad's a painter and my mom teaches art history at Truckee Meadows Community College. My dad had a pretty solid art career going, showed at a couple galleries in the Bay area and Chicago... The reason we left Oakland originally was because we moved to Europe for my dad's career, but my mom and I got super-sick from all the mold in the old buildings; asthma. Then we ended up in Tahoe, and now my dad does all sort of things: Construction to feed the family, but he still does some abstract art."

Your twin brother Hunter is an artist too. "Nowdays my dad and my brother share a studio in San Francisco. He just had a show at a gallery in Oakland, and that's great, he's super excited because that's his passion and that's what he loves to do."

"Hunter's had quite a few shows, especially in the Bay area. He does painting and collage and multimedia and projections; paintings and projections together in certain pieces. But right now in San Francisco the city decided they wanted more artwork in the city. And there's this bad neighborhood called the Tenderloin, and they have all these empty store fronts. And they've had artists like my brother come in and make art in these storefronts on Market Street. It's a pretty cool thing."

Dash Longe's iPhoneRare is the artist who matches glasses and coat on a canvas of October morning at Alta.

Does he shred pow too? "He still snowboards, he's still sick at it, but he just doesn't have as much of a chance to get up there. He got really good and companies wanted to sponsor him but he said no. He thought it'd take the fun out of it. He saw what was happening to me, and that wasn't what he wanted to do. I thought that was cool."

Did he go to college? "He went to California College of the Arts in the Bay area. It's a well known school in the art world, competes with RISD and some of the other top schools."

Do you make art? "You know, I definitely like to draw and I'm into photography, but I haven't been taking too many pictures recently. But I did live in New York for a summer and was getting pretty into it taking classes there. I was more into film over digital [photography], and it's a bummer that film's sort of going away in favor of digital. But I also guess I like to say that I express my creativity through skiing."

Are you the black sheep in the family then? "Naw, my parents are pumped. My mom comes from a strong ski family so she got Hunter and I into skiing when we were super young. She's my biggest fan, and definitely I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her and my dad supporting me. My mom got a job way back at Alpine [Meadows] so Hunter and I could get ski passes, and later she helped found the freestyle mogul team at Alpine because there was only a race team at the time."

Does art influence your skiing? "I definitely think growing up around a lot of art helps with skiing. I look at the mountain in a different way, choose features that look cool and unique, and it helps for tying it all together; putting yourself in the air in different places and getting through the terrain. I think a lof of guys have a creative sense when it comes to skiing. Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa], for example, skis the mountain different from anybody else. Skiing is a form of art."

Skiing as art. "For sure. I think for me style is everything. And to have good style can be portrayed as art. I think the best asset for a skier is their style and their look and way of going about tearing up the mountain. And I think that's true for a lot of sports, skateboarding for example. The sickest dudes have the most unique personal style; it brings a lot to the table. And in skiing, hands down, if you have good style you can make a simple trick look way better. For me, it's not about the trick; it's about the style. And skiing's gotten a lot better in that regard. Skiing is way better now in terms of style than it was 10 years ago, when it was rather sloppy."

Dash Longe's iPhoneNick Greener and Dash Longe may differ stylistically, but in October at Alta they're hiking buddies.

Who are the leading skiing artists then? "Welll, for me, I really like to watch Eric Pollard ski. I think Pep [Fujas] has amazing style and ability. I think Dylan Hood has sick natural style as well. And then people like Sage, his skiing is so trademark; he does it differently than anybody else and that makes him stick out."

"If you look at the all the pros, they all have specific styles that they rock—in all different aspects. Sammy Carlson, Simon Dumont, Tanner, they all have pretty specific styles and that's kind of their art forms, creativity-wise, and that's what they bring to the table and what makes them stick out and what makes other people want to do what they do."

Are Tall T's art? "[Laughter]. I personally don't favor that style at all. It's cool and I do agree if you feel like you're looking good it helps you ski better. So if you're pumped on the way you look and feel, props, man. But it's not my style; these kids in frozen skirts basically. It's just gotta make their ski pants wet. It's gotta be uncomfortable."

What is Sage's style? "How do you describe Sage's style? I'd say he's kind of like a mouse—light on his feet. He just makes really light and smooth and long turns. Really fluid when he spins and he does some tricks people don't even know; spinning both ways and switch tricks too and the super sick Sage smooth mute grabs. He's just light and he makes it look easy. And that's what I want to see in somebody's style."

"If you watch skiing, nobody really has a style like him; kind of like Candide [Thovex] too. Nobody does it quite like Candide, with his pole plants and rotations. It's sick and it's his signature style."

"I also think a lot of people can identify with Sage. Even his look—long hair, hippie-stoner look—I think people identify with that. They see that out on the hill and maybe that's their style too. He's just super light. I'm thinking like a mouse, aggression-wise, in terms of an animal. And he's super quiet; he's not a loud skier."

Is skiing too one dimensional to be taken seriously... as art? "The way I look at it, when I was growing up I was looking up to professional skateboarders. They did a lot for me. And I was let down when I found out they were a drug addict or something. And the same's true in skiing. You want to set examples in a way, and my main goal is to get people pumped on shredding and style, and I want people to think they want to do the same thing. So I'd say there's a certain amount of contributions we are making. People all around the world look up to athletes, and I do too, all kinds of sports and categories. And if people are looking up to you and paying attention to you, there's a lot to be said for that."

Dash Longe's iPhoneAnother early October day at Alta and another style for Dash Longe (camo and blaze hunter motif).

Are there other skier philosophers out there? "I'd say Eric Pollard is one for sure. I don't hang out with him that much anymore, but when I was skiing for Line we hung out a bunch. He's got a similar style and we look at things in a similar way. And Dylan Hood is also a major enthusiast of good style. He holds a high bar for himself; he's not happy if he bobbles. He wants it as sick and smooth as possible. And we also agree on that level, philosophically; I do have some intense conversations with my ski buddies. There's some smart ones out there."

Salt Lake is home—forever? "I'd definitely say that. I don't have any plans to get up and go anytime soon. I like it here. It's a great mix. I like being in a city. And while I wouldn't say Salt Lake has a great city culture, there is some: Some good art, some good food and restaurants and then there's mountains 15 minutes away and they're big and they're sick. So if you want to live in a city and ski, this is the best one. Dever's cool, but it's far from the mountains, and it's not like you're stuck in a little ski town here."

Do you have other jobs apart from skiing? "The last few years I haven't had to have a second job to pull in enough income to live on. I've been able to live off skiing. But the last couple years I've also spent more time skiing in the summers; going down to south America. And then in the fall with all the traveling for the movie tour and events going on to promote skiing, I've become more busy for sure... as opposed to four or five years ago when I was not making any money whatsoever. That was hard; the ski industry's hard to make it happen, money-wise. I train hard, stay active in the summer, so it's a full time job for sure."

Say you're a professional artist not a skiing artist. Would you be a starving artist? "Yes, I'd probably be starving. I mean my brother's starving and he's got gallery shows and things like that, but he also does construction and other stuff to pay the bills because San Fran's expensive. But for me, yes, I'd definitely be a starving artist—if I was an artist."

Plans for the rest of your winter? "I usually spend a lot of time here early season, trying to ski every day and get as many laps in as possible regardless of the conditions, shredding up at Alta and the Bird. I usually go home for Christmas, but this year my family's coming here for Christmas—where there's usually better snow. Then I'll spend some time in Jackson; it's great to get into some gnarly lines and get warmed up for tackling that type of stuff."

"And not 100 percent on this but Steve Jones has been talking about going to Croatia and Greece for our Europe trip this year, and I'd be stoked to check out those places. So I'll be there—if it goes down. And then probably back to Utah to do some sled skiing and build some jumps with Pete O'Brien. Of course if I get a chance to go to B.C. I'll definitely take up that offer, and always, ultimately, the goal is to get up to AK. But it's hard to get there."

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