Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Freeskiing [Print without images]

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Updated: June 23, 12:40 PM ET
Face Time: Santiago Guzman


Santiago Guzman founded Club Argentina Freeski, a youth freeskiing program at Cerro Catedral in Bariloche, Argentina, when he was 21 years old. Three years later, the Bariloche native now employs 10 other skiers as coaches and organizers for the 55 CAF participants and the hostel they run at the base of Cerro Catedral. His organization has nearly doubled in size over the last three years.

This past winter, Guzman skied and traveled around the U.S. for two months, visiting Utah, Washington, and Colorado. The video above is from his first-ever visit to Mt. Baker, Wash. While in the U.S., he coached 12 CAF skiers, ages 11 to 18, for over a month, at Snowbird and Park City, Utah.

Now, Guzman is back home in Bariloche, where his house was buried in ash from the recently erupting Puyehue volcano. "It is 4 p.m. right now and it looks dark as night, but grey," Guzman said during a recent Skype conversation. "It is raining ash all over the place and we are in the shadows. It should still be daylight."

Guzman's parents are ski instructors and as a kid, he used to travel with them and spend winters in Italy. After he turned 19, he started roaming by himself to resorts in Andorra, British Columbia, Italy, and the U.S. He says he started CAF to give young people in Argentina the chance to grow up in a freeskiing community.

"Ski bums and ski professionals just don't exist in Argentina," Guzman said. "Here in Argentina there is a lack of resources. There just aren't good halfpipes, parks, and industry in general to become a ski professional in any discipline. So, I decided to create a new ski club that gave the kids all the weapons they needed to be complete skiers: powder, gates, rails, jumps, rock riding, and backcountry hiking."