This year, aside from traveling to a pair of big-mountain skiing competitions in France and Colorado, 18-year-old Sean Pettit never left British Columbia. A hand injury forced him to sit out the month of February, but then Pettit got busy. The Whistler local won Red Bull's Linecatcher and Cold Rush, then spent the next month and a half filming his Matchstick Productions video segment around B.C.'s Chatter Creek Lodge and in the Whistler backcountry. Here, he allows us a window into his latest work, thoughts and everyday life as "the future of skiing."
I wouldn't say anything revolutionary happened this spring, but some big stuff went down. We claimed some lines that may never have been skied before in the Whistler backcountry. It was mostly me and Richard [Permin], and a couple days, we were with my brother [Callum] as well.
I definitely had some close calls. There was one where I landed -- I got caught on top of this line where I kind of stuck into the snow a bit and went for a tumble down a bit of a spiny rock face. It wasn't head over heels; my head was just banging the rocks. I got a dent in the back of my helmet.
Takeoffs aren't always perfect in the backcountry, and you have to adapt to that. This year, I think I started to adapt better. I didn't really need a perfect takeoff to do tricks. Angles of the takeoffs are hard, too; sometimes they point in a different direction than the landing will be, and you have to adapt to that. And spinning, speed, knowing how big the cliff's gonna be before you actually take off, I adapt to all these things.
Being able to put out video segments that I'm really happy about has been big for me. People tell me it's enjoyable to watch, and that's kind of my goal, to make my skiing enjoyable to watch.
I'm not learning tricks in the park and taking them to the backcountry; I'm learning tricks in the backcountry and taking them to the park.
Growing up, it was basically me, my brother and Kye [Petersen]. We never were part of any ski club or anything; we just kind of formed this crew. We had to spend a lot of time exploring the mountain and just getting to know it really well. And we knew exactly where everything was, every little hit and every cliff. We pushed ourselves at a super young age without even knowing it.
I signed with K2 and Oakley when I was 11. I'd entered the pipe competition at WSI [Whistler's World Skiing Invitational], and I guess Chris Turpin -- who was on K2 at the time; I'd skied with him a little bit that year -- had told K2 about me. They looked into it and they were stoked, so they contacted us. And Oakley, I was just riding in the park and I got down to the bottom of the mountain and someone came up to me in a lodge, and he was like, "Do you want to ride for Oakley?" And I was like, "Yes, I do."
It's a slow process, pushing yourself to try something new.
I tried to do one run in the pipe this year and couldn't even make it to the bottom. I was on my powder skis and fell halfway down. And I only spent a few days in the park.
I bought a car last year, so I'll be driving that instead of my truck this summer, which is nice. It's a black 1975 450 SEL Mercedes-Benz with leather interior. I got it for $2,500. Sick car.
When I hear people call me the future of skiing, I don't really know what to think. I mean, I guess it makes me feel good. There's no reason to be embarrassed. People like the way I ski, and I accept that. But it can obviously change pretty quickly -- someone's gonna come along, some young ripper I've never heard of.