Six years ago, a photographer named Dave Carmazzi told me that Timy Dutton was going to be the "next big thing" to come out of Squaw Valley. Just 16 years old at the time, I brushed him off as just another high school jibber who was probably going to burn out and quit skiing.
Then two years ago, this virtual unknown burst onto the scene with victories at the North American Freeskiing Championships at both Kirkwood and Alyeska, the first two big-mountain comps he'd ever entered. Sure enough, it was Timy Dutton. His performance earned the youngster a spot on big mountain skiing's main stage, the Freeride World Tour. He finished in sixth place overall on the 2010 Freeride World Tour and it was just announced that he's one of the 12 male skiers who have prequalified for this year's tour. Dutton also makes an appearance in Matchstick Productions' new movie, "The Way I See It" (which won Best Picture in ESPN's Ski Movie Awards) and Warren Miller Entertainment's "Wintervention." We caught up with Dutton to talk about his meteoric rise through the ranks of the world's freeskiing elite -- and we asked a few industry experts (and Dutton's mom) what they think of Dutton's rise (see footnotes throughout).
ESPN: Seems like you had a dream season last year, trips around the world, filming with MSP. How was it living the rock star lifestyle?
Dutton: I don't even know where to start. It had been a while since I'd left Squaw Valley and to have gotten to go ski in all those places and share the sport with all those people was amazing. Filming with MSP has always been the number one goal for me. I lost all composure when [Scott] Gaffney1 invited me out. The energy that was put out at the film sessions and the chance to share it with close friends was unbelievable.
Your best finish on the FWT was third in Chamonix. How was it competing against some of the biggest names in the sport?
It took me a while to get used to it. Thank god JT Holmes2 and Julian Lopez were there because I actually knew them. I acted like a little kid in a candy store most of the season with everyone else. I couldn't believe that I was actually competing with all of them let alone sharing the same run. Everyone was very nice and helpful though, the amount of knowledge and respect I learned from them is immeasurable. I feel very fortunate to be able to call them friends today.
So you plan to do the tour again this season?
Ricky Bobby says it best, "You ain't first, you're last." So I got last (6th) last season. I will be out there again this season for sure. I don't know if I will be able to sleep at night anymore if I don't keep trying. My schedule will be hectic now that the FWT has six stops instead of four.
How did you fit in time to film with your hectic competition and travel schedule?
It worked out perfectly actually. I got to hit up Squaw and a couple days out in the backcountry with the MSP crew between the Squaw FWT event and the Verbier Xtremes. It was hands down the most fun all season with some killer snow falling in the area at that time. I was in NZ last summer doing some filming with Warren Miller Entertainment during the World Heli Challenge and it made the movie this year.
I heard this fall that you were building some limited-edition Rasta Pow Narrow Ass Snowboards for your ski sponsor, Lib Tech.
It was great to go up there and hang out with the guys at the factory and see where all the magic happens. The Rasta NAS is the same ski as the POW just with a sweet graphic on the top sheet. I got to build a couple of pairs when I was there, which was rad.
What have you been up to this summer?
After Verbier, I came home, took JT's advice3, and headed to Lodi, Calif., to start the journey into BASE Jumping. It's been a crazy experience. Skydiving is a blast and has been a great learning experience for me. I've also been spending a lot of time flipping around this summer in hopes of being able to incorporate tricks into the gnarly FWT venues. Really trying to work on that to bring my past style of skiing into my new style.
You used to ski a lot in the park4, are you doing that anymore or just sending backflips off every cliff you see?
I love to slide rails still and play on the jumps. I don't get to shred the park as often as I like, but any rainy, cloudy, icy day I will be there. I've got to make sure I've still got the 270s and the mute grab dialed. But I feel more comfortable in the backcountry nowadays. I love to do backflips5 -- I don't know what it is about them, but they just feel so funny.
Anyone you'd like to thank?
My mom6 is a trooper and an amazing woman, I put the poor lady through a lot of worry and she sticks by me no matter what. My dad for all the encouragement and of course all my sponsors: Lib Tech NAS, Bolle, UnofficialSquaw.com, Porters Tahoe, Sessions, Full Tilt, and the best ski resort in the world, Squaw Valley USA. And of course the Red Squirrel!
1 Says Scott Gaffney: "Timy is the epitome of positivity when you're skiing. I don't know how many times he told me he was stoked just to be out there while we were filming last winter. On top of that, the kid's got a great sense of humor. He's fun as hell to be around."
2 Says JT Holmes: "The kid has confidence, without arrogance in the mountains. He has done his time, from winning comps to spending his last pennies taking guide courses in Alaska. It's nice to see him rising to the top of the ski world."
3 JT Holmes on Dutton's learning to BASE-jump: "Timy approaches skydiving and base-jumping patiently and with a deep respect. Not ignoring the fundamentals or taking dangerous shortcuts as so many others do. It is a pleasure to mentor him and we laugh hard in the air together. Timy has restored the bug for ski BASE-jumping within me, that naturally, had faded out since March 26, 2009. It is going to be a fun winter. I have found my new wingman."
4 Says Cody Townsend: "I used to watch Timy in the park throwing stylie cork 7s off 100-foot table tops. After he won the first two big mountain comps he ever entered I realized Timy could be one of the most versatile up and coming skiers out there."
5 Dutton's Twitter name? TimyBackFlips. "He just loves laying out fat backflips," says Scott Gaffney. "They look so effortless and casual."
6 Says Tim's mom: "Of course I'm going to worry. Both my sons have really dangerous jobs (Tim's brother is a firefighter in Brooklyn), but seeing him succeed at what he does far outweighs the fears I might have. I just think it's a once in a lifetime experience that he absolutely has to pursue. He needs to ride this wave while he's on it."