When I got home from Winter X Games Aspen, the first question I heard came from a snowboarder friend of mine who wanted to know why skiers didn't try triples in Big Air the day after both Mark McMorris and Torstein Horgmo had landed them on snowboards. Here's a guess: because Dane Tudor wasn't there.
A week before Winter X, the 22-year-old skier out of Rossland, BC, released a video edit that featured him landing a switch triple rodeo 12, not on a park shoot-caliber, 110-foot tabletop, but on the last jump in the Breckenridge public terrain park. Listed as the third alternate for the competition, Tudor campaigned to no avail for an upgrade to the competitor list for the Winter X Ski Big Air. If he had brought his public park-sized triple to the slightly larger than public park-sized Big Air jump, we may have watched a totally different contest with other competitors forced to try their own triples. One thing is for certain: Tudor's recent triple proves that those tricks are attainable on much smaller jumps than previously accepted, and that the age of the triple is rapidly approaching. I recently caught up with Tudor, a standout athlete in recent releases from Poor Boyz Productions, to learn more.
What was going through your head when you tried that triple in Breck? Did you want it for contests or was it just a new goal for yourself?
It was both. I wanted to go to the X Games and I'd been really wanting to do one for a while. I was just feeling it that day, so I decided it was time. I also wanted it for the backcountry this winter on a big booter.
You've been highly successful filming for a couple of years, but relatively new to competing. Tell us a little about your progress.
I did the Dew Tour, the Red Bull Cold Rush and the World Championships in Park City. I've been trying to get into the competition scene for a while. I finally qualified for Dew Tour last year and this year I went in as a pre-qualified athlete, which was pretty awesome. I've been working on competing for a few years, so it's nice to make some headway in that area.
You were born in Australia and I hear you were recently named to the Australian Slopestyle Team.
I was and I am really stoked. I just want to be able to encompass all types of skiing. Since I'm young, I can go for it and do the best I can. I don't want to be older and say, "Oh, I just filmed. I could've done other things, but I didn't try." I just want to do all things because it's all fun.
With the Olympics coming up, do you plan to focus more energy on competing or continue to pursue all things on snow? I've got some major plans for the future with filming, but I'm definitely going to put a lot of time into the park, particularly early season. I want to learn some more tricks, but that works really well for the backcountry too. When springtime comes, I can ride lines and bring some new elements.
What was it like filming your gnarly segment-closing big mountain line in PBP's "The Grand Bizarre?"
It was definitely scary. We'd gotten one day of shooting in the helicopter prior to that day. And we'd waited a long time to get back in the heli because of weather. We finally got the chance and I didn't have a big heli budget #151; two days of heli and that was it. It was actually the last line I skied in the backcountry of the year. We did a couple lines earlier and we were flying around toward the end of the day when the heli pointed directly at that face and I was just like, 'I'm skiing that,' as soon as I saw it. Since it was such a high-consequence line, I was really nervous about the quality of the snow. Going over to the line, the pilot was having trouble landing, so I was like, 'I'm not going to chance this one, it seems a little bit off.' I changed my mind as we were flying down and got dropped off on the ridge next to it. As I was checking the snow, I randomly got Sammy Carlson on the radio. He was a few miles away from us, sledding in Rutherford. He was real stoked, so I checked the snow. The snow was good, so I dropped in and everything went really well. I was really happy. I'd never had such a crazy rush. It was this feeling after the line, I was so calm and relieved, just like everything was taken out.
Do you find it's a lot of pressure to try to bag a big line when you've only got enough money for a couple days in a heli?
Not really pressure. Every year, I try to get some good lines in my segment. I feel that it separates out the skiers from people who go into the backcountry to hit jumps and that's it.
Do you have a favorite type of skiing?
When I get to go home to Rossland is the best time for me. That's when I get to ski with all my buddies that I grew up skiing with. That's where I have the most fun because it's like being a kid again. Now being a professional athlete has brought a whole different ball game of feelings. It's still skiing and having fun with your buddies, but there are other motives behind it as well, and stress that you just don't have as a kid.
What are those other motives?
I want to push myself in skiing and be able to bring in sponsors so that I'm able to go out and do more. For any athlete, money can be stressful. You're not doing it for the money at all, but money, your sponsors, are what enable you to be able to do it still. Without those, you're going to have a much more difficult time.