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|Freeride World Tour competitor Mat Jackson at Squaw Valley, Calif.|
If the words "speak softly and shred the P-Tex out of big sticks" apply to any rising athlete in big mountain skiing, it's Mat Jackson, whose aggressive style on the mountain betray his quiet demeanor off the snow. Last winter, Jackson earned a couple of top 15 finishes on the Freeskiing World Tour, and this fall, he appeared in Two Plank Productions' latest release "Because." Jackson grew up ski racing at Crystal Mountain, Wash., and eventually moved to Squaw Valley, Calif., where he lives now. ESPN Freeskiing recently sat down with Jackson at Squaw's Cantina to talk about his plans for this season.
Do you have a busy winter lined up?
Filming is definitely where I want to focus my skiing this season. For me skiing is all about the adventure and letting it take me to some really cool places, whether that be to another country or to a new zone in the Tahoe backcountry. I was lucky enough to link up with Two Plank Productions last year and go on a trip to Japan and I look forward to filming with them more this season. I have been working on a project called 91 Octane with a group of friends with the goal of showcasing what can be done using snowmobiles to access backcountry terrain.
|"For me skiing is all about the adventure," says Mat Jackson.|
What do you see as some of the pros and cons of the newly merged Freeride World Tour?
It's definitely a double-edged sword, but one of the biggest positives is the attention it's bringing to our sport. Over the past decade, the Freeskiing World Tour has done nothing but grow and in doing that provided some great opportunities for up and comers. The merging of the tours is going to make it harder logistically and financially for kids trying to make it to the next level. One of the best aspects of the old FWT format was that local talent could enter the event and over three days potentially win an FWT stop.
Powder Magazine recently published a cover story titled, "Why Do The Best Skiers Keep Dying?" How have the many losses within the ski community changed your perspective?
Since I moved to Squaw six years ago, I have lost seven friends to the mountains. It's a hard internal battle to overcome because you want to honor your friends and continue skiing hard, but at the same time I have seen too closely what happens when a worst-case scenario becomes a reality. It has made me a smarter skier, and given me an immense amount of respect for the mountains. Now if it doesn't feel right, then it's not the day to ski it.
What do you think about the development projects planned at Squaw Valley and other ski areas?
I hope that the big companies taking over our ski areas don't ruin the community that has made ski towns such awesome places to live. But the truth is that more people are going skiing and that is good for everyone involved in the ski industry. The unfortunate part is that less small businesses are getting a piece of the pie. Skiing has come a long way and it still has a long way to go. I hope that all the new companies developing ski areas show some respect to the roots of skiing and the culture that has made it what it is today.
You've been training at the new Woodward Tahoe facility. How do you hope to take what you're learning there to the mountains?
Woodward has been such an awesome opportunity for me. I can train year round on jumping and tricks that I want to take to natural features in the backcountry. It's really helping accelerate an area of skiing that I have always struggled with. It's amazing seeing the level of talent that place produces, and it's always nice to get some advice from a four-foot-tall 12-year-old throwing perfect double corks.
Biggest goal for this season?
Beating everyone at the 2013 Pain McSchlonky Classic.