Alex Prochazka and the 80-foot backflip[Editor's Note: After this story was published, ESPN Freeskiing learned that Alex Prochazka was involved in the recent riots in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup finals. We were not aware of his involvement when this story was published. Since then, Oakley has revoked its sponsorship of Prochazka.]
The first ski competition of Alex Prochazka's career was the Red Bull Cold Rush at Silverton, Colo., in March. (He was the one who threw the 80-foot backflip -- after a near-catastrophic snafu on his prior run.) The 20-year-old who grew up skiing with the Pettit brothers and Kye Petersen in Whistler, Prochazka, a.k.a. "Alex Pro," is better known for his freestyle mountain biking (he competes on the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour and took 11th at the Red Bull Rampage last year in Utah). But he did some other interesting things this winter, namely: schlepped a tripod around the daunting couloirs of Chamonix to assist director Constantine "CP" Papanicolaou in the filming of Seth Morrison's movie "The Ordinary Skier." We talked to him about that experience, biking vs. skiing and what it's like to freefall 60 feet after kicking a shoe.
What were your two weeks like in Chamonix?
Oh man. I was just a sherpa carrying around the tripod for CP, but we skied the steeps, man. Chamonix is totally different from anywhere else I've skied. I don't know if I've ever been so scared on skis in my life. Just steep, exposed lines on boilerplate snow. And if you lose your edge anywhere and you go down, there's no chance -- you're dead.
Take me through your Cold Rush experience.
I really had nothing to lose, you know? There was no stress. I just skied how I do, sent it, got to ride in a helicopter and hang out of the helicopter with no doors. It was the most fun contest I've ever been to, including biking.
And your 80-foot backflip?
I saw the cliff and was like, "I wanna hit that cliff." We were in different heats so we were watching the first heat from the bottom, and Leo [Ahrens] sent a big three off the same cliff and stomped it, and then Sean [Pettit] sent a huge three off the cliff, and I'm like, "Oh, I'm gonna backflip that now. I got to." So I just skied up to it and sent a flip just like you would on a regular cliff. I ended up clipping a tree halfway down that I didn't see, and my ski popped off and I landed in the snow. But next run I went back and sent it again.
Wait. You lost your ski in the air?
How far did you fall with one ski?
I hit the tree about a quarter of the way down, so I fell about three quarters [60 feet] with one ski on my foot. Just like a bird shot out of the sky.
How does your biking help your skiing, or vice versa?
It's hard to say. I've always been comfortable on my skis and I've always been comfortable on my bike. Obviously you're going twice as high on skis, and since I'm pretty comfortable going big on my bike, maybe that's from skiing.
Do you think you'll ever get into big-mountain competitions on skis?
Nah. Skiing's more my fun sport. It's my time to just hang out and chill in the winter with no stress.