By Liam Downey
With his phenomenal Freeski Slopestyle performances so far in the Winter Dew Tour, is 17-year-old Bobby Brown ushering in a new era of park skiing? Bobby and the other upstarts have made serious bids on veterans' place-standings: Justin Dorey, Duncan Adams, and Tucker Perkins are earning spots on or near the podium. Heading into the Toyota Championship at Northstar-at-Tahoe, it's Bobby - as a serious contender to the Dew Cup - who's commandeering this teenage coup d'état.
The youth of this tall-teed grassroots movement are amassing in terrain parks everywhere. And while Bobby may not wear tall-tees in the literal sense, his double-flip antics have elevated the Coloradan to major-player status in the Summit County. A natural crowd favorite due to his fearlessness and ever-expanding bag of tricks, Bobby turns heads every time he puts on his skis. Although the Breck stop of the Winter Dew Tour was his first major win, his notoriety gained momentum at last year's North American Open. There, the awards ceremony was pervaded by chants of "Bobby Brown!" as the crowd protested the underdog's fourth-place finish. While his fans may be rudely enthusiastic, Bobby has yet to breathe the airs of entitlement. Refreshingly, B-Brown (that's what we call him) remains a humble kid stoked on skiing.
In the two years I've known him, Bobby has never taken his growing up in Summit County (which is to live in the heart of Park Mecca) for granted. He skis from 9- 4 at every opportunity. He's nondescript in his gear, he's quiet in the liftline, and he's gracious when congratulated on a new trick. Beneath his helmet and Under Armour gear, he looks more like a football player than a park rat, and at six-foot-tall or so he is more man than child, but still somewhere in between. In fact, Bobby's whole life is a transitional phase right now as he finds himself in limbo between high school obscurity and ski superstardom. Something tells me he will handle it well though; the bastard is handsome and he's a veritable Ski Stuntman. I spoke to Bobby before the Mount Snow Dew Tour Freeski Slopestyle Final, where he eventually placed seventh behind top-three finishers JF Houle, PK Hunder, and Alexis Godbout. Bobby's overall tour standing-which is bolstered by his astounding Slopestyle runs and consequential first- place finish at Breckenridge places him a mere five points behind PK Hunder's 165 overall points lead. This Winter Dew Cup at the Toyota Championship will be a toss-up.
How does it feel to be the youngest kid in contention for the overall wins in Winter Dew Tour Slopestyle? It's crazy to think about. Going into the Winter Dew Tour, I didn't have very high expectations. But after Breckenridge it has become a goal of mine to win the overall title. It's going to be difficult because everybody is gunning for the same thing, but I am hoping I can bring out some new tricks I have been pounding away at it.
What do you intend to change up in your run for the final stop at Northstar? I have seen some switch dub ten shots in some of your recent edits. Are you planning on dropping that if the jumps are big enough? Yeah, for sure. I have been working hard, trying to get some new tricks over in Breckenridge's Freeway terrain park. After the Breck stop I have been focusing on getting all of my grabs, even in the double flip variations. I have also been working on my right side tricks. I've seen PK Hunder doing some new styled-out doubles, and it has inspired me to make my doubles way cleaner. Hopefully the jumps are big enough at Northstar-at-Tahoe so I can go for some of these new tricks.
At this year's Winter X Games 13, you reportedly landed in the channel and took a gnarly slam in practice. How hard was it for you to handle the pain and stick it out for three runs and a sixth- place finish?
That was the worse crash I have ever taken. I was going for a switch 9 over the channel and ended up not transferring far enough and slammed into the wall. I got knocked out and compressed almost every part of my body. Somehow I manage to compete in the Final. I was just glad to be alive, so going into the Final I had no pressure.
I just skied as well as I could. It was so sick to see TJ back at the top of the game.
How has the world of skiing changed for you with your recent success and continuing competition dominance? Do you still feel as though you can go out and ski for fun every day, or is there an added pressure to learn new tricks and refine old ones every time you get on snow? Everything has become a little more competitive. I actually like the added competiveness because even though I am pushing myself to learn new tricks, I am still having fun. All of my friends are out progressing everyday they are on the hill, so it's easy to go out, have a great day, and work hard at the same time. Wait, how can skiing everyday be hard work? Haha.
Finally, where do you see the future of Ski Slopestyle? Is it going to go the way of double flipping and double corking insanity, or is there an obligation to keep tricks stylie and focus on smoothness over technicality? Where will that line be drawn? It's a really hard to say where the sport is going to go. There are a lot of different opinions on where the sport should be driven. I think its people are going to start doing the crazy tricks with smoothness and style, just like every other trick in skiing.
Eventually it is mastered with style. For example:Tom Wallisch. He probably has every trick anyone has in skiing, but at the
same time he does it without flaw and loads of style.