[Voting is now open for X Games Real Ski Backcountry. Watch all eight athletes' entries and place your vote here.]
Sammy Carlson's Real Ski video has captured over half of the fan votes since it released on March 5. He is pitted against Parker White in the opening round of fan voting, which closes March 11. After two more rounds, the winner will be announced at X Games Tignes later this month. We caught up with Carlson while he was enjoying some downtime on the Oregon coast recently. "It's been intense," says Carlson. "I needed a week at home to rest up and let my body heal."
How do you feel about the edit?
I'm pretty pumped with it. Going into it, we had a big plan we wanted to stick to. We wanted our video to look different -- to have some diversity and look unique. I wanted to push myself to build bigger jumps, mix up my tricks and just go bigger in the backcountry. We'll see what people think. There's always room for improvement, that's what keeps us coming back.
What was your filming schedule like?
Right after I finished the first Dew Tour, I went up to Canada. I had filmed 15 days by the beginning of January. We probably filmed 30 days total.
Did you feel pressure to get after it?
The first week I did. I kept thinking 'I gotta get this trick done.' I quickly realized as you go out there, not all tricks work for certain jumps. It's a balancing act, trying to push it but not push it so hard that you come away with nothing. I settled into the groove and realized 90 seconds isn't too much -- you just have to use the time wisely.
How did your broken ankle affect things?
I was bummed I wasn't going to ski the rest of the season, and bummed about missing Real Ski more than anything else. Thanks to PT and my doctors, I was back on my skis within three weeks of my injury. I really only missed a week. I couldn't believe it. The first landing felt 10 times better than I imagined. I got lucky -- I just chipped a piece of bone and where the fracture came from wasn't too much of an impact spot. They went in with scope and sucked it out. I had to wait a few weeks and get myself strong, but I could walk right away, so I didn't lose too much of the muscle. My first backcountry day back was one of best jump sessions yet.
Where did you film and how did you access your zones?
Most of our stuff was from sleds just outside of Whistler. I got a new SkiDoo and I love going out there and getting more comfortable in the mountains. I definitely wanted to spend time in Whistler because we know it and it's perfect for this contest.
What's your most memorable moment?
It was super early season and I was sledding with Josh Stackhouse and Brandon Kelly and we went way back. It was so early the crevasses weren't covered up like normal. We dropped into one zone we were unsure about and had to rally back to the trailhead. On the way back we had to zigzag back and forth through these 60-foot crevasses.
What's next for you?
X Games Tignes. Hopefully I'm competing in slope there. I have some film trips for Poor Boyz then the Sammy Carlson Invitational at the end of May. It's going to be bigger and better this year. I'll be filming with TGR toward end of the season and heading to Alaska with them.