Joss Christensen has never lacked potential. He and his buddies, including Winter X Games gold medalist Alex Schlopy and Dew Cup champion Sage Kotsenburg, grew up pushing each other's limits in Park City, Utah, where they developed a masterful repertoire of tricks. Christensen started making good on his promise when he took second in halfpipe at the 2010 World Skiing Invitational, then matched that result with a runner-up finish in slopestyle at the Winter Dew Tour finale in March. He finally broke through with a win at the NZ Winter Games Big Air this summer, and last week, he signed a three-year contract with Fischer that will take him through the 2014 Olympics, where he is a darkhorse contender in both pipe and slope. In advance of the London Freeze Big Air next week, Christensen, 19, brought us up to speed on his fast-rising career.
How'd the Fischer deal come about?
I've been on Line since 2006, and this spring Matt [Berkowitz] from Fischer just sent me an e-mail wondering what my plans were, if I was looking to stay with Line or looking to move on. He approached me with a pretty awesome deal and I was just excited to see Fischer come back into the freeski scene. They're hopefully going to provide a technician at competitions so I have less stress thinking about my skis; I'll also have a better travel budget and more promotion.
You won big air in New Zealand with a dub cork 12 mute. How hard is it to keep up with the tricks everyone is throwing these days?
For me, I just know that skiers like Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy have probably done a bunch of new tricks that no one's ever heard of. So I try and set my limits higher than I think I can go. If I envision a run that would beat the current runs right now, that really helps me find a medium between what I can do and what I wish I could do.
What's the dynamic between you and Schlopy on the hill?
I'll be riding with some of my friends, just keeping it mellow, and right when Alex comes up, we start one-upping each other -- not even on purpose, but we start skiing harder and harder. That's usually when I learn the most. And since both our natural spins are the opposite way, it's fun to try and do the same tricks as each other. It's a good, competitive friendship.
As a guy who sees everyone ski pretty regularly, who are your early picks for slope and pipe Olympic gold in 2014?
For slope, it's definitely between Bobby and Gus. I feel like they're both unstoppable right now. And also Kai Mahler, the 15-year-old from Switzerland. He's really progressing at an insane rate. Or Alex Schlopy, I think he has a really good shot. For halfpipe, I would probably say some of the French guys, like Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni and Ben Valentin. Or Justin Dorey.
Will you continue to ski both disciplines leading up to 2014?
The only two guys who are able to make podiums in every event -- big air, slopestyle and halfpipe -- are Gus Kenworthy and Jossi Wells. I look up to them a lot and I think Fischer and all of my sponsors really want me to push both, and it'd be good for me not to put all my eggs in one basket. But at the same time, it could be bad for me if I don't focus enough on one sport.
What's it like being a pro skier and living with your parents?
It's pretty good. Since I'm gone a lot of the time, it's really nice to know all my stuff is being watched and I can come home and not really worry about paying rent or cleaning up.