Print and Go Back Freeskiing [Print without images]

Saturday, December 5, 2009
Updated: January 21, 1:20 PM ET
Continuing Chronicles of Tatsuno

There's a fork in the road and Chris Tatsuno's taking it. A "professional ski bum," Tats, who celebrates Movember all 12 months, had planned on rubber-tramping and powder-hunting the Western U.S. and Canada this winter in a 1982 GMC Vandura RV, along with his buddy Casey VandenBroek. (This of course follows the fall of TatsVan, the rise of TatsVan II, etc.)
There's a fork in the road and Tatsuno's taking it.

Then Tats got a phone call, last week, informing him that he'd won something called the "Powder Highway Ulimtate Blow Your Mind Ski Bum Contest." The video up top is the winning entry.

The news was still fresh with Tats Thursday when he fielded a call in Santa Barbara, Calif., during a moment of repair from his emceeing duties on the Warren Miller film tour. "Just going for a noon hot tub sesh here," says Tats.

The whole Ultra Ski Bum plan is still evolving naturally, but this much is clear: 2010 Tats Tour is moving north of the border to the zone known as the Powder Highway in order to reap the winnings: three months worth of lift tickets, lodging, a vehicle of some kind, 16 days of heli and cat skiing, a $500 gas card and other things that Tats is still learning about. The window of opportunity: January, February, March. And Tats doesn't even have his passport quite dialed.

Tats' Ultra Ski Bum Powder Highway Hot Tub ESPN Interview »

ESPN: Crazy deal.
Chris Tatsuno: "The first time I heard about it, I was like, 'Wow, three months for free. That'll be awesome for somebody!' My buddy Justin Dersham helped me edit the entry and we threw it up there."

"So here's what I know based on talking to a guy from Kootenay Rockies Travel. He's been putting it all together and there's 50 partner companies, including 22 lodges/hotels along the Powder Highway, and each of them have donated up to 10 days of stay... way more days of lodging than are usuable in three months. The same goes for ski passes; basically a season's pass at each of the eight resorts on the Powder Highway, like Revelstoke, Red Mt., Fernie, Whitewater..."
When not rubber-tramping around Chris Tatsuno's van is usually parked in Aspen.

"On top of that, they're hooking up a vehicle. Hopefully it's a four wheel drive. I've never had one of those. Still, the best part—the kicker—there's 16 heli and cat operations off the Powder Highway, and they've each donated a day."

So you'll be blogging as part of it or what? "What they're looking for, on my end of it, is actually a pretty lax deal. They basically want me to do a blog report—a write up, photos or video, however I want to do it—for each of the cat and heli ops and one for each of the resorts. So it won't be a daily deal. I can take my time; pretty cool opportunity there."

What about the plan with Casey and the Vandura? "I just see it as adding another layer to the whole deal, assuming Casey has his passport in order and I'm actually getting my dialed in now—we may as well do it simul style. ... But it's a lot to comprehend. I had an interesting conversation with Casey last night, me just walking around in a parking lot trying to take it all in."

Will they be supplying pocket cash? "I don't think so. Haven't heard about that. But that's actually part of the story idea I'm going to be running along with: I have shelter, clothing really isn't an issue, and a means to skiing, so food—that's going to be the crux of the ski bum concept I'll have to explore. How am I going to eat on the Powder Highway?"

"They do give you a 500 dollar gas card, so there's a little means to an end there. But that's the only 500 bucks. It's like, 'Ok, how big is the Powder Highway?' How many times am I going to drive around it?"

How big is it? "I haven't actually taken a look yet. That's a good question. I nipped off the bottom corner of it a couple years ago when I skied Red Mt., Fernie and Whitewater, but I have to look into it further."

So you're gonna report to the Powder Highway January 1 or what? "The sooner I get there the better. They just want me to come up and go where my whim and fantasy takes me. They're talking about it too: How are you going to get up here? Maybe I'll just road trip up, but then he said they had a deal with Delta. So we'll see. I like to avoid airfare if I can."

Contest wise, as a second generation ski bum, did you have an unfair advantage? "I think the story had been written before the contest was developed. So the contest, man, it was just ripe for the picking. But it does add another layer to the story. A lot of what the other videos were, they were doing what my dad did—moving from the flatlands to the mountains. But my dad already did that part. So I grew up in the next phase."

You had planned on hitting the Freeskiing World Tour stops. Now what? "The best part about it is the second stop is in Revelstoke for the first week in January. I was already planning on being there, and now I'll have a home base or headquarters for all these freeriders who'll be in town. And then there's some comps up there anyways, so I'll be able to get my comp fix. But I do think this winter it's gonna be mostly about the powder. The stars have aligned to chase a different goal for the time being."
Studies have shown nobody grows tired of this classic shot of Tats and the TatsVan(1.0), may she rest peacefully in Wilson, Wyo.