Ever wonder how professional skiers make it big? How about how to train for big air? GearJunkie has all that and more in our recent interview with freeskier, X Games medalist, and Olympian Alex Hall.
Recently, U.S. team freeskier Alex Hall was at Copper Mountain, Colorado, competing in the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Big Air event. The Olympic gold medalist and nine-time X Games medalist skied a few turns with GearJunkie to answer some of our questions.
Here’s what Hall had to say.
Q&A With Alex Hall
GearJunkie: How are you feeling heading into the Toyota Grand Prix event this week?
Alex Hall: I’m feeling good. I am excited to get it going again. It’s been a nice summer of relaxing and doing a lot of skiing. I’m not really thinking about the big picture; I’ve been enjoying every day separately, which has been really sweet.
It feels nice to come back out here (Copper). I’ve competed here a lot. It’s fun to be back with the crew; the whole U.S. team is out here. I’m not putting any crazy pressure on myself. I think the theme of this year will be trying to enjoy it.
What can we expect? Any new tricks in the works?
Nothing too crazy. I’ve definitely been working on some stuff. I did some stuff at a competition we had in Austria, but it was a slopestyle competition. I haven’t been working specifically on big-air tricks. I’m going to have to hit the jump and just kind of see what I am feeling.
How do you mentally prepare for these big-air competitions?
Sometimes it feels like you are going into battle. Big air can be nerve-wracking and scary because it is one big trick. You definitely feel like a lot is building up to the moment.
But I am trying to just take it step-by-step and not overthink it and not put a bunch of pressure on myself. I’ll see how the jump is feeling and take it slow in practice.
Usually, if I warm up slowly, then I’m confident when the event comes.
Do you train specifically for the big-air competition?
I used the trampoline a ton growing up since I had one in the backyard. Lately, my main thing is just trying to ski as much as I can.
Sometimes we will jump on airbags in the summer — that’s really good if you are trying some trick that you are not quite sure about or is really experimental. I’ve always told myself, “The more you ski, the better you get.” The only way to get good at skiing is through skiing — nothing else.
I also get a ton of exercise outside. I love surfing, I love going on hikes, skateboarding, and I do a lot of cardio-related stuff. But I’m not cranking a ton of heavy weights in the gym.
What was it like growing up in Switzerland?
It was amazing. I grew up outside of Zurich. It was awesome because I grew up skiing at a bunch of different resorts, so I got to explore a lot. Many resorts I skied at growing up didn’t have parks, so I grew up skiing the mountain terrain and powder. I think that really helped shape how I look at skiing and the creative side of things.
Also, I never had a coach until I moved to the U.S. and joined the U.S. team. I think not having a coach helped me to self-express and figure it out on my own instead of someone telling me how to learn tricks or how to do them. There is no right way to do a trick — it is all up to self-interpretation.
Why did you choose Park City, Utah, as your home base?
I chose to move to Park City mainly because they have a school called the Winter Sports School. I did my last years of high school there, so I’d go to school all summer and ski all winter.
Also, my dad grew up in Salt Lake, and his parents lived there, so moving from Switzerland to the U.S. didn’t seem as far-fetched because I had some family. My parents and brother stayed back in Switzerland, and I moved when I was 16.
Do you prefer competing, filming movies, or skiing for fun?
A mix is perfect. That’s my favorite — doing a little bit of everything. Last year was a ton of competition and some filming. This year I am hoping to have a better balance of skiing for myself. I think I would get bored if I did just one thing all season. Doing a bit of everything keeps it super entertaining — variety is the spice.
Where do you keep your gold medal?
In my sock drawer. It’s tucked away in there. I don’t ever want to lose it. Rarely, if I go to an event where someone requests, I’ll bring it, but I’m worried I’ll lose it.
I was in Europe for a month and I had to bring my medal on that trip, and it was in my backpack for a month. It was kind of scary because I just kept it in a goggle case.
If you could ski anywhere in the world, where would it be, and what kind of skiing would it be?
It would be some of my local home resorts where I grew up in Switzerland. I’d ski on a pow day because no one really knows how to ski pow there. Growing up there I knew all the zones and I could ski in pow all day. In the U.S., you get four laps, and then it’s gone.
What is your favorite piece of gear right now?
I’ve been sporting these goggles (Dragon DX3 OTG Spyder Collab) a lot, actually. I like that they are a little smaller and not too bulky.
But my favorite piece of equipment is probably my skis (Faction Skis Studio 1). I’ve had a lot of input into how I like the skis set up with the flex and the different camber and the rocker. Over the years [Faction has been] trying to make the skis better, which is awesome.