International pro skiers take on Breck’s park and pipe
Breckenridge is home to a world-famous terrain park and halfpipe, having won awards and hosted the Dew Tour Mountain Championships for the past six years. So naturally, the best skiers and snowboarders from around the world come to Breckenridge to train before heading off to compete in international competitions.
A handful of the Verbier-based Faction Skis athletes are in Breckenridge this month to train, compete, and take part in the brand’s photo shoot. This international group of professional skiers are ones to watch in the industry:
There are the “Frenchies,” primarily from Grenoble. They specialize in park skiing and party like the best of us.
Natalia is training with the Slovakian national team. Her government gives the team money to travel here, train, and compete.
Andy is from Scotland; he competes on Great Britain’s team. He calls Breckenridge one of his home mountains and names the resort one of the best places to ski in the world.
The very talented photographer, Lukyn, is from the Czech Republic. He has enlightened me in the world of “getting the shot” and the popularity of extreme scootering in the Czech Republic.
And of course, there are a few skiers from the United States. I met up with Tim, who competed in Breckenridge’s Dew Tour, and Ian, a park and big mountain skier, to round out this global affair. It is with this gang that I spent the past week skiing, chasing the sun, and trying to manage the photo shoot for Faction Skis.
Because of the world-class terrain here at Breckenridge, we were not alone in our attempts to capture skiing at it’s best. We were among many international groups filming and hiking the halfpipe, rails, and jumps. This time of year there is “ isn’t a better snow park in the world,” Natalia says. According to Pablo, one of the “Frenchies,” the Polish skiers are among the nicest around. And, of course, everyone knows each other, calling out in many different languages, but all speaking the universal tongue of “skiing.”
“It doesn’t matter who is better,” Boris from France told me, “we all ski together.”
So, despite very snowy conditions, Team Faction got after it in the park. Each of the skiers pushed each other and the limits, while hiking, yet again, to hit the same feature with a different angle of flash. One day, due to poor visibility (or the massive amounts of snow falling from the skies), I convinced these park skiers to step outside their element and hike an untouched powder field. “I know, it sounds silly,” I said, “but I have shot this before.” And, to our amazement, we all got face shots and powder pictures, marking Ian’s “best day on the hill” yet this year.
I learned a lot from this worldly team of skiers. If you ask the lifties, in your best French accent, for some “candies,” they will throw you a few Jolly Ranchers. I learned that Slovakia doesn’t sell cinnamon chewing gum and that poles and gloves are meaningless accessories to skiing. I also got to practice my French.
I leave this week inspired by my new international perspective. It doesn’t matter if you are greasing rails, hitting kickers, or skiing powder, sliding on skis is always fun. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what language you speak, or how good you are, skiing is a universal bond that joins us across the world. We eat, drink, and sleep this sport. Breckenridge is one of our meccas. Skiers are “good people,” the Frenchies said. They couldn’t be more right.
— Jesse Ambrogi-Yansen