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Whistler-based pro skier Dana Flahr appeared on Fox News on Monday morning in an interview titled "Defying Death for Dollars." He was interviewed by Fox's Stuart Varney on skiing and the risk tradeoff.
Ski action footage of Flahr, who appears in Teton Gravity Research's latest film, "Light the Wick," appeared in the background. "That's not skiing. That's a suicide pact with snow," Varney says during the interview. "I don't think you're in the skiing business. You're in the stunt skiing business."
Varney focuses the interview on how much (or, rather, how little) money Flahr earns doing what he does. "Do you make a million dollars a year?" Varney asks. When Flahr responds no, Varney encourages him to "get an agent" and "do an ESPN competition." (Translation: the X Games.)
"It was funny just being there talking to them, because we live in such different worlds," Flahr told ESPN Tuesday, after he returned home from his FOX interview. "I wasn't exactly prepared for some of their questions, so I just spoke of what first came to mind. It's funny when the general public thinks that everyone should be an X Games skier with an agent."
It's great to see freeskiers on television -- that's huge visibility for the sport. And clearly, Varney doesn't watch a lot of ski movies, so we can't blame him for thinking that skiing in Alaska is high-risk. But to imply that what Flahr does is reckless couldn't be farther from the truth. "When I'm filming I have to use my mind more," Flahr said in an interview with ESPN this fall. "There are other things to think about like sluff management, line choice and when to turn it on and when to hold back. This kind of skiing requires a lot of patience. Ninety percent of the time I'm holding back."
And sure, I get Varney's point of view: If you're going to risk your life for your job, you might as well get a lot of money for it. If you work as a coal miner or an oil well digger, you better be making a decent salary. But Flahr is a skier. Nobody gets into skiing to become a millionaire. They do it because they love it. And Flahr doesn't need a million dollars a year to know that he has one of the best jobs in the world.
"Our Alaska TGR crew gets the opportunity to ski the most amazing mountains in the world, and get dropped off on top of places nobody has ever stood before," Flahr said after the interview. "We get to ski powder every day. I don't make a million dollars a year, but the lifestyle I live, people out there would pay millions for. That makes it all worthwhile."