Voice: Banks Gilberti

Banks Gilberti finally finds his place

The comeback of Banks Gilberti. PHOTO: Tal Roberts
The comeback of Banks Gilberti. PHOTO: Tal Roberts

This story originally ran in the October 2014 issue of POWDER (43.2)

WORDS: Will Eginton

For Banks Gilberti, like many of his Carrabassett Valley Academy classmates in Maine, park and pipe competitions were all he knew. They consumed his winter and dictated his approach to skiing. But after a particularly disheartening result at the 2011 Winter Dew Tour at Snowbasin—he scored a 56 after completing the most flawless run of his life—the Hailey, Idaho, native had enough. Rather than fading away, he channeled his energy into his unique web series, “Adventures in Transitions,” which, more than anything else, showcased a unique and calculated, if quiet, style. “I just always want to be doing something different than what everyone else is doing,” says Gilberti. It didn’t take long for production companies to take notice.

Now 25, Gilberti has polished off his second full segment with Level 1 Productions and made his debut with Matchstick Productions in Days of Our Youth. “We brought him on this year for the inbounds segment,” says Scott Gaffney, who filmed Gilberti for the MSP film. “We knew he had a creative and flowy approach, but we were surprised by his strength as a skier.” Three years after walking away from the competitive sphere, Gilberti has found his place in skiing.

Sun Valley is where it all happened for me. We moved there when I was 4 and fell in love with the sport and the town. It is such a tight-knit community, and you can’t go anywhere in town without knowing everyone. It’s like that on the hill, too. I think that’s why I hope I end up there some day.

My dad was competing in aerials and moguls when he was my age, so he understood what I was trying to do with my skiing after high school.

But it wore on me; I got sick of it. I was pushing myself, putting my ass on the line every day, and for what? The same guys were always on the podium.

I’ll always remember the exact moment when I turned my back on competitive skiing. I had just put down a run that I had been working toward my entire season. I was standing in the corral, stoked beyond belief. But then the scores came in, and they were practically crash scores.

I lost it. I just felt like the judges weren’t even watching. I was livid, more angry than I think I’ve ever been skiing. I decided right there: I’m done. I’m not going to do a contest ever again.

I’m actually thankful for that moment. I realized that it was a waste of my time and energy. It made me realize I need to focus on skiing for myself and just ski the way I want. I haven’t looked back since.

I wound up broke once already this winter. I had two motorcycles, and I had to buy a sled if I wanted to put out a full segment. My contracts all ended at the end of the fiscal year, and I was staring down all these costs with no cash flow on the horizon.

I got a Facebook message from Scott Gaffney. I thought, “Holy shit, what could he—a skiing legend—want with me?” I guess they had seen some edits and thought I’d be a perfect fit for the inbounds segment of Days of Our Youth. I managed to scrape together enough money to get out with them and it was a blast.

You don’t have to be in AK attacking lines that only one percent of the ski world could ever attain. We just went out and showed how fun it is to ski the resort with your friends. It’s an extremely relatable experience.

I need time to reset. I need time to relax, see family and friends. I think it would be easy to get burned out on skiing, so I definitely need time to clear my head and not focus on skiing.

I’ve got two bikes—both Harleys.

It’s about 100 miles of windy, hilly road all along the Payette River. You head north over Galena Summit, over through Stanley, and toward McCall. We camped out there for a couple days and then returned to Sun Valley. It’s definitely my favorite ride.

They’ll put you on your ass. I do all of the work myself. I’ll get pissed off and end up throwing wrenches around my garage. Building bikes is a frustrating, consuming, awesome learning process.

I coach a skateboard and trampoline camp. I think it’s important to spend time with the younger kids of the ski world.

It’s good to give back, if that’s what you want to call it. I don’t know how much technical knowledge I can actually impart on these kids, but interacting with them on a personal level is an important aspect of skiing. It’s all cyclical and I’m just trying to do my part.