|ESPN.com: Freeskiing||[Print without images]|
|Leo Ahrens says his favorite trick is spinning flat 3s off natural features like spines and cliffs.|
There seems to be a natural progression for most freeskiers: learn how to ski park, compete until you start dropping off the podium and then start filming. But 17-year-old Leo Ahrens defies that mold. Ahrens grew up skiing big mountain at Alta, Utah, and he has a Mark Abma-esque bag of park tricks that you can find on display daily at Alta.
Last summer, Ahrens went to Argentina to film and ski with Sweetgrass Productions and he's currently filming with Salomon's Freeski TV for an episode that will air next season.
Ahrens was born a skier. For the first three months of his life, he lived with his parents at the base of Alta in the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge's employee housing. Before he could walk, Ahrens' parents were skiing with him on their backs. At two years old, Ahrens was placed in ski school. "Skiing was day care, we started in ski school, then the Alta Youth Club and finally Alta's freeride programs," says Ahrens.
|Leo literally grew up at Alta (in the employee housing at the Goldminer's Daughter). This is his first ski pass.|
Others took notice. "Leo was skiing killer commitment lines at Alta at 11 years old," says pro skier Dave McReynolds. "We'd put him into lines with sluff and he'd absolutely destroy them. Over the last two years, Leo and his posse evolved from solid kid skiers into some of the best skiers in Little Cottonwood Canyon."
Ahrens is part of a group of Alta skiers called Dubsatch Collective, youngsters including Sam Cohen, John Collinson, Grant Howard, Andrew Pollard and others who've been skiing together since they were kids and now they film and make their own edits.
This winter, he's taking online high school classes and is out of school until mid March so he can ski everyday. He plans to compete in the Junior Freeskiing World Tour events and film and shoot as much as he can. "I hope to film and travel to places like AK, Russia, Japan and Switzerland," he says. "I really want to nail a double flip in a line. I landed a double in the Crested Butte junior comp but blew up in a mogul field. I am going to redeem myself this season."
But when I asked him if he'd call himself a pro skier yet, he said, "Not yet, but I do receive some support from Salomon, Smith, and Backcountry.com. I also get some product from Dakine and Rollic Hats." So what does it mean to be a pro skier? "Getting sent places to ski," he says, "and going skiing instead of picking up dog poop at home."