When and where did you learn to ski? Who did you learn with?
I grew up skateboarding. In 5th grade, I attempted snowboarding. On the first run of the day, I twisted my knee up pretty good. Long story short, my snowboarding career lasted half of a run at Brighton. Fast forward a few years, I noticed my mom was skiing and she asked me to come a few times. Eventually, she wore me down and in 8th grade I reluctantly agreed. Skiing came to me right off the bat. By my 2nd day skiing, I was scolded by a patroller for “going too fast.” For the next three years, I continued to cut my teeth, then I started to explore Snowbird. Once I was twenty, I really started exploring Alta, and have been traveling around chasing snow ever since. I credit a lot of my rapid progression to my buddy, CPG guide, Rich Peterson, and his family. They took me under their wing and I learned a great deal from trying to keep up with Rich who is a tremendously capable technical skier and all-around athlete. Big ups Rich!
Which athletes did you admire most growing up, and who do you look up to now?
I’d say Scot Schmidt. He always gauged the terrain around him and made the most of it. He went beyond the established guidelines and found his own way. At the time, I imagined there were many skiers with Scot’s approach, but looking back, only a small handful of people were sending it like Scot. He had a huge influence on my approach to skiing. And with my past in skateboarding, it was similar to street skating: Just taking a look at the terrain in front of me, then making the most of it, and getting creative with cool lines and big airs. These days, there are countless athletes I look up to: JT Holmes, Rachael Burks, Chris Turpin, Sage, Barnhill, Ligare, Parker Cook, little Andrew Pollard, Brody Leven, Sierra Quitiquit, Treadway, and down the list….
What’s your take on the state of the ski industry today?
It’s vibrant. The only thing that’s a liability is the weather. As far as the politics and the “scene,” it’s awesome. Most skiers are very, very interesting people. It’s fun to meet some of the people you’ve seen in the mags and movies for a long time. Then suddenly, one day you’re buddies with them and you have the opportunity to learn who they are. It’s a great industry to be a part of.
What was it like seeing yourself on the big screen for the first time?
Oh man, it was so cool. First movie, I was lucky enough to have a major segment in Team 13’s “Echo.” Seeing myself on the cover and the opening segment was a dream. The director had me self-narrate it too, so it was strange to hear my voice as well. I am really honored to be a part of that movie. It’s a classic.
What has been your most memorable moment in skiing so far?
Too many to mention again…haha! I’ve had some insane memories in Europe, Alaska, BC, South America, Japan, all over the domestic US—all rich in travel and skiing experiences, for sure. It’s just crazy to head to a new place on the globe; then you get to these places and go straight to the meat and potatoes. For example, a couple years ago, it was April and I got a call from Rachael Burks who was at Targhee, where I had never been before. She relayed that they had received a 50″ dump and she was filming in an area that was usually permanently closed. “I’ll be right up,” I said.
I arrived in Targhee; it was cold and the energy was crazy. I was particularly stoked because all Rachael told me was that there was a zone with a big line with a close out 100-footer (ie. A jump of around 100ft). “It’s perfect for you Jules.” she said. I took the chair up and, soon enough, we’re in the zone. I skied one lap to study the terrain. The line was very obvious…and gnarly! I began to tap into my internal voice to interpret the mountain and gain a sharper focus. The mountain will grant you an understanding of its workings if you have perception and patience. You can’t rush it. After a study of the line and air, I headed up. The landing is 100% ready to go, totally safe. The line into the cliff is 100%, and the take-off of the air and sheerness is 100% safe. It’s exciting and the energy is palpable. I achieved success off the cliff, and GoPro even made a commercial of it. I’m privileged to have formed similar memories from such a diverse list of settings.
What’s the gnarliest injury you’ve gotten, and how did you get it?
I’ve had two catastrophic injuries to date.
1. Shattered Femur. Broke into 11 pieces 2″ under where my femoral head goes into your hip socket. Pretty tricky. Surgery went perfect and I worked my butt off to heal up with no lasting ill effects.
2. This one was gnarly, here we go: I tore my ACL, PCL, LCL, Meniscus and tore my calf muscle. Yeah buddy. Again, this was one intense surgery and rehab was a full-time job. The surgeon, Charles Beck (a fantastic surgeon), walked into the room, read the MRI results, and said, “Julian, I know the way you like to ski, and I don’t know if you’ll get back to what you were doing.” For him to say that (since he’s worked on some guys like Nobis), my resolve was so intense. I internalized his message, but it fueled me to prove him wrong.
I looked at him dead in the eye and said, “You’ve worked on people one at a time with each of these injuries and each of them came back 100% right?” He said that’s right, so I said, “When you’re in there working on me, pretend each of my injuries are a different person. If you can execute the surgery flawlessly, one at a time, I’ll take care of the physical therapy.” He smiled and said he appreciated the perspective. Anyway, he did his job and executed a flawless campaign of surgery. My physical therapy consisted of biking everywhere, gym daily, physical therapy daily, acupuncture, rolfing, reiki, etc. I literally worked overtime for 8 months straight to get my knee back 100%. It worked.
What’s the next place on your list you’ve been dying to ski but haven’t yet?
New Zealand, Greenland and France. I’ve been to South America seven times and Europe four times including Iceland. But I still have yet to go to Chamonix and I really want to check out NZ. Greenland is one of premiere places to go for a true, all-by-yourself experience. I like those.
Why is skiing so much fun?
I’d say because it wraps three amazing things into one:
1. The sport itself.
2. The setting of skiing is breathtaking: The mountains rule.
3. Usually you’re with good friends.
Doesn’t get better than that: best sport in the best kind of places with best friends.
20 years from now, what do you want to be remembered for?
That I loved to ski.
If you weren’t a pro skier, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I’m a closet worshipper of pro-skaters. When I was 15 or so, I could hold my own. Then skiing stole my heart, but I still wonder what would have happened if I’d kept to skating with a mad passion.
But really, I don’t know, probably business in some capacity. Simultaneously with my ski career, I love running my company Discrete Clothing. I just like to always have a creative outlet.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Twitter and Instagram?
What 20 songs to have you been listening to on the mountain lately?
Steely Dan – PEG
Diplo – Express Yourself
Rick Astley – Never Gonna Let You Go
Wu Tang – Protect Ya Neck
Mobb Deep – Shook Ones
Gangstarr – Mass Appeal
GZA – Basic Instructions
Django Django – Wor
Metallica – Seek & Destroy
Doors – Riders on the Storm
Bloody Beetroots – Warp
Nightmares on Wax – Flip ya lid
Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand
Calvin Harris – You Used To Hold Me
Holy Ghost – Hold On
Steve Aoki – Turbulence
Deadmau5 – Faxing Berlin
EPMD – Da Joint
Major Lazer – Get Free
Steely Dan – Deacon Blues
How many ski areas have you been to? I believe you’ve already taken our Where I’ve Skied Challenge.
Oh man. I haven’t. That’s a great question. One thing I do know: No matter where I am in the world, when it’s time to come home, it’s all good. Utah truly has the best snow on earth.
Rapid fire! What is…
Your go-to set up for big mountain skiing?
Your all-time favorite ski film?
It’s four-way tie (is that allowed?):
1. TGR – “High Life”
2. MSP – “Global Storming”
3. Sherpas – “All I Can”
4. Warren Miller – “Playground”
Your go-to breakfast before a big day on the slopes?
Bowl of oatmeal,
Can’t find it at Sinclair,
Even you JP Auclair,
This is the bee’s knees.
Add chia seeds, cranberry, blueberry,
I didn’t stutter, I said almond butter.
Fig you dig,
Paid the fee for acai,
Maple is staple,
Start if off w/coconut water,
Woah like H2O,
Can’t stop me…
Your go-to après drink after a long day on the slopes?
The BOOMERANG at the Sitz. Alta.
Your favorite place to ski?
Your favorite thing to do for fun, outside of skiing?
I’ve fallen in love with trail running. It’s a great way to keep yourself in the mountains in the off-season if you’re not a huge mountain biker. I do hope to bike way more next season.
Your guiltiest indulgence?
Potato chips. The end of me.
What’s the biggest cliff you’ve ever jumped? And in a competition? What’s your approach?
- 210 footer in Switzerland
- 185 footer in Whistler, Canada
- 175 footer in Wolverine Cirque, Utah
And 140 footer at the US Freeskiing Nationals in 2007 at Snowbird.
It’s wild to think I have at least a few dozen of cliffs in the 100-foot range beyond these 4 cliffs. Plus, countless cliffs under the height of 100 feet. I agree with everyone—it’s totally nuts. I can’t believe I have ended up with this ridiculous comfort level with really big cliffs.
My approach is a long-winded insight into hyper awareness. I’ll spare you, but just know it’s a deep meditation and I tap into my connectivity to the mountains. The process to achieve this state is intense though. I have so much fear that I convert reviewing the situation at hand. I don’t obey my fear; I obey the facts. And usually the facts are that it’s a feat that is achievable. I focus on nothing but that. And slowly, that fear becomes confidence in form of awareness. Haha, like I said it’s long-winded.
Icelantic, Spyder, Discrete, GoPro, Bern, Goal Zero, Backcountry.com, Daleboot, Dissent, Level, Suunto.
Biggest thing you’re attracted to?
I am attracted to simple complexities. Like a well-drawn maze.