Tyler Ceccanti, 21, grew up skiing Crystal Mountain, Wash. At age 13, he entered his first big mountain competition and three years later, Ceccanti won the Crystal Mountain Junior Silver King Freeride. Since then, he's secured a handful of podiums, published photos, and an appearance at the Red Bull Cold Rush in 2008, where he was recognized for the viewer's choice award. Last season, he filmed a segment for Warren Miller Entertainment at his home mountain and he just got another call to shoot with Warren Miller this March, with K2 and Andy Mahre at CMH Heli-Skiing in British Columbia. We caught up with Ceccanti amid the rain in Washington for an update.
We've heard about the wet and sloppy weather in Washington. You skiing in garbage bags right now?
There is no way I would wear a black garbage bag. Those were back in my racer days. I have a cabin at Crystal and I still go up to make the best of the weather. When it's not optimal I sometimes end up in the park, but even if it's wet, I just go until I'm soaked to the bone.
Do you ever take days off?
It depends on the snow conditions, but if even the park is looking bad, those are the days I likely take off. There really is no such thing as a day off in skiing. If I'm not shooting, I am still out skiing and pushing myself to learn new things. I always have skiing in the back of my mind, whether training on tramps or going to the gym. If I am off the hill for more then two days I start to get anxious.
When shooting, you are usually working with photographer Ian Coble. How has that relationship developed?
Ian is a really hard worker. I wouldn't be as far in my career if it weren't for Ian. He knows what the magazines want. It's cool because we hang out outside of skiing -- we're good buddies. I think that's key. He knows that I can get the shot for him and I know he can get stuff published. There was a two-day period last March and we randomly got hit with a crazy storm in the Northwest, so we brought out the strobes. We've had more play from those two days than any other time period that season and a lot turned out to be some of Ian's favorites. To have some of my shots be in his favorites is a huge accomplishment in my book.
What are your ideal conditions for getting out with film and photo crews?
Two feet of new, but not that Utah champagne powder. I like it a little spring-boardy. Nothing where I am too confident because I like to scare myself and have to think in the back of my mind that I must land it. I really want to get into the pow, but showcase what I am into, which is getting playful off of cliffs. I am not a park skier, so I want to bring my big mountain sense and a new style to the Warren Miller shoot this year. Having Andy Mahre on that trip will really help me -- he doesn't just go huge, but focuses on being smooth and making it look good.
In the years to come, do you think you will be able to keep up with the park skiers getting into big mountain?
There are 15-year-olds doing double corks, but I grew up at Crystal without a park. I have learned to ski in any conditions. Those park skiers may out-do me in the trick department, but I have been training a long time adjusting to different types of snow and terrain. A lot of people get their start in park and then kill it in the backcountry, but I have a lifetime of practicing in varying conditions. And I spent some of my childhood doing gymnastics.
Balance beam, rings, or bars?
I did gymnastics for five years. I traveled around Washington and did national competitions. It was my side thing and it started taking up too much time, so I quit. Flexibility and upper body strength has crossed over from gymnastics and keeping my balance in the air. Also, building confidence. When I go skiing, it is like gymnastics with my ski stuff on. I really enjoyed the rings. I don't know if I was exceptionally good at it, but I really did like it.
Gymnastics and skiing? Sounds like you had busy parents.
My family always backed me up. They never made me do ski racing. They traveled a lot and sacrificed a lot in order for me to go explore. My dad would pick me up from school on a powder day and we would go skiing. Skiing is a self-expression and there shouldn't be a criterion for how people use it. I am lucky I got a choice.