Athlete Interview: Brandon Wilkinson
Faces on the Freeskiing Open Tourby Ross Downard
Home: Flagstaff, AZ
Years Skiing: 20 years
Itís mid March and a string of Utah storms cover Park City with a soft, fluffy blanket of snow. Usually Utahís Brandon Wilkinson would be ripping the slopes at The Canyons Resort, but this time of year youíll only see him a couple of days every other week at The Canyons. The North American Extremes Tour takes him from Snowbird UT, to Aspen, to Telluride, and back to Aspen. Itís been a busy season, and itís not quite over yet. Finishing consistently in the top 30 this year, with a nice 8th place at Tellurideís venue, Brandon is well on his way making a name for himself on the freeskiing scene. With Jackson Holeís comp on March 22nd Ė23rd and Kirkwoodís comp on 30th Ė31st, Brandon will be finishing the season with a busy week.
So Brandon, What made you make the move to Utah?
The great skiing and the worldís best snow. I really wanted to be in an area where I could progress. Utah offers the terrain to really test my limits.
What is it about skiing that gets you stoked?
Going out and skiing with your friends is what itís all about. Pushing each other to really ski hard. Being outside in the mountains is an awesome experience.
Did you race or compete growing up?
No, I have no race background growing up; itís just my competitive spirit that pushes me to compete.
When did you first compete in a big mountain venue and how long have you been at it?
Well my first comp was at the age of 22 and I really didnít know what it was all about. My first big venue was at Mammoth Mountain in California, and I placed 13th.
What does it take to be a strong big mountain rider?
I would say it takes a little training, and just skiing anything thatís downhill from you. You never know what the conditions are going to be like on the day of the comp. They donít have the say on what the weather is going to be like [in competitions] so you have to be able to charge in any kind of snow conditions. Next, I would say you have to be original, creative, and really pioneer lines.
Which big mountain venue really stands out in your mind?
My first comp I ever competed in [Mammothí extremes]. I was definitely nervous and I had no idea what to expect.
What do you look for when you pick your comp lines?
I try to pick a line I can stomp all my airs and at the same time scare me. Maybe with some technical doubles or run outs that score high points.
When choosing a ski to rip, what do you look for?
I look for a ski that feels and responds well when I ski. A ski that really allows me to ski my best. I ride Volklís because they respond to what I like in a ski, and allow me to charge it.
What hopes and plans do you have for the years to come?
I would like to get a lot of photos out there. Just try to market myself in the big mountain arena. My goal is to be in the top 10 in the North American Tour.
What advice would you give aspiring riders who want to break into the competitive tour?
Just go all out all the time. Live for the sport, ride for yourself, and charge.
By the time this article went live, the Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open took place and Brandon finished 15th out of 31 competitors. Brandon is currently 11th in the 2006 US Freeskiing tour standings. Congratulations Brandon. Good luck to all of the competitors. See the results from the Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open below.
Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open Results, Mar. 2006.