The hero of Superpark 6 is headed for Winter X

When Superpark 6 dropped into 18-year-old Tim Durtschi’s hood last spring, the Alaska-born skier skipped class, “forgot to spin” a switch air over a 120-foot table and landed himself a ticket to the 2005 Winter X Games. Tim’s story started on a powder day at Alyeska when gnarly weather cancelled race training. Durtschi swapped gates for the park and, with one year of high school remaining, he left the state he calls his first true love, and moved to Bend, Oregon to appease new squeeze: competition. Attending Powder’s Superpark was always a dream of Durtschi’s and his big break came last May. Durtschi laid his academic career and limbs on the line all week at Superpark 6 and it paid off. His progressive riding caught the eyes of the attending pros who voted Durtschi “Best Overall Performer”, an honor that included an invitation to compete in the 2005 ESPN Winter X Games slopestyle in Aspen, Colorado. Following the comp, Durtschi opted for the TGR summer program (aka commercial fishing) and returned to Alaska for three months of slaying sockeye and saving cash. We caught up with him on one of his rare days off, and on land, this summer to discuss dodging sharks, Superpark 6 and the X Games.

POWDER: Some professional skiers have a pretty easy lifestyle in the summer. They spend much of it golfing or honing their skills at Whistler or Mt. Hood, while you’re elbow deep in fish aboard a rocking boat off the coast of Alaska. Tell us about your summer.

Durtschi: I hope those guys are having fun. I got to ski here (Alyeska) for a week at the summer camp, and I was a coach. It is awesome having kids out there who want to learn from you. I have a hard time believing I have so much to teach them, because just a few years ago I was at their level. As for the fishing I do the rest of the summer, my uncle hooked me up with the job last year. I decided to come back because I got a raise and I spent most of the money I made last summer. We fish for salmon: mostly pinks and sockeye. We caught an eight-foot salmon shark once. It was scary as hell—he could’ve taken my head off. But really the only dangerous thing I have to worry about is falling overboard while I’m taking a leak.

POWDER: One other thing you don’t have to worry about is competing for a spot in the Winter X Games. Superpark is a very different format for qualifying than competition. How was it different for you?

Durtschi: I went to my first X qualifier in Breckenridge two seasons ago. I was so scared, it being my first out-of-Alaska competition ever. I fell in all my runs in the pipe and slopestyle, but doing really good was a goal I felt I could work up to. I went this past winter to Breckenridge and injured my ankle. I was planning on trying my luck again this January at the qualifier, but it was really great to get a spot without the pressure of a competition format. It’s kind of one of those ways to get into the X Games that you would only speculate about and think “how could this happen to me?” The competitions did give me valuable experience, and I encourage any groms out there to compete as much as they can, because it’s way fun too.

POWDER: What was it like for you to get invited to Superpark in the first place? Had you ever skied with guys like Candide Thovex, Mark Abma and Matt Sterbenz before?

Durtschi: I was at competitions with them, at the Whistler Invitational, but seeing Candide ski was one of the greatest opportunities I have had. Everything he does, from his butters off rollers to 810s on rails, is so much fun to watch. I was also pretty surprised to see Superpark at Mt. Bachelor. I was getting kind of depressed the season was ending then in late April some random ski patroller on the lift told me the rumor was that Superpark was coming to town.

POWDER: Your zero spin over the huge 120-foot table was regarded by athletes as one of the best tricks at Superpark. What was going through your head when you hit it?

Durtschi: I had hit it switch once before and the in-run was a quarter mile into the massive monstrosity. I think I just had too much time to think on the way in and then I forgot to spin or something. It definitely felt weird.

POWDER: Shouldn’t you have been at school the whole week you spent mastering the jumps and rails at Superpark?

Durtschi: Yeah, I practically missed my last two weeks of high school for Superpark. My teachers were kind of confused as to why I would be taking off time to ski at Mt. Bachelor, which is only 20 minutes away. I returned for the last couple of days then missed my graduation ceremony so I could drive to Alaska and coach summer camp up here. It was probably one of the most hectic ways to end the four-year stretch, but I am sure glad to be out of there.

POWDER: It’s been a dream of yours to ski in the X Games for quite some time. Any goals for the Games or beyond?

Durtschi: Ever since I saw Tony Hawk land a 900 there, and C.R. Johnson doing 1080s at that man-made jump in San Francisco, I felt the energy generated there has got to be some of the best in the history of sports. I just hope to get people’s attention by skiing at the Games, if not for me than for the sport. I believe what Warren Miller said in Extreme Winter: if everybody skied there would be no wars.

POWDER: He actually stole that one from an Austrian WWI vet named Hannes Schneider, but we get your point. Thanks Tim.