If you’re of the thinking that the Freeride World Tour doesn’t hold much influence on the youth demographic, remember the name Ian Borgeson. The 20-year-old from Dillon, Colorado, made the leap this season from the junior tour to the adult tour, achieving the one goal most seasoned Freeride World Tour skiers aim for: to finish in the top 12 in order to earn a coveted spot in the Xtreme finals on Verbier’s legendary Bec de Rosses venue. The versatile youngster cut his ski teeth ripping around A-Basin’s Pali lift with friends, and the product shows. Like most FWT veterans, he skis fast and aggressively. But what distinguishes his style from others is a fluidity and playfulness with terrain, as if he’s skiing right off the Pali lift. Those attributes have landed him in ninth place in the overall standings, highlighted by a seventh place finish at the third stop in Kappl, Austria, and narrowly missing the podium at Snowbird with a fourth place finish on U.S. soil.
Since the Verbier Xtreme finals have been postponed due to weather and a lack of snow on the pepper-rock venue, the moppy blond-haired Borgeson has had time to assimilate to the renowned face. This past weekend, Borgeson and I had a chance to catch up while staring across at the Bec de Rosses after he just completed his first inspection of the menacing venue.
So this is your first time on the Bec. What did you think when you stood up there today?
Honestly, standing up top it looks way more mellow than any other view I’ve looked at it from, so I was feeling good.
Have you talked to anybody on tour or any locals to get some insight and information to help prepare you for the comp?
I’ve watched a lot of video and other old footage. I’ve talked to Silas [Chickering-Ayers] who skied it last year for the first time and what he skied and going back and forth about the lines and airs.
Is it more fun or more terrifying?
Probably more terrifying. The exposure makes it so. You can catch some fat airs up top and you’re landing over so much exposure. If you mess up, you’re going to the bottom, which is the scariest part.
You were telling me earlier that this year started off a bit rough [finished 26th and 30th, respectively, at first two stops] for you, but you’ve rebounded big time the last two stops. Are you surprised at how we’ll you’ve done or is this about where you thought you’d be?
My goal was to make it to Verbier this year, so I’m definitely satisfied with my season already. I ate shit in Courmayeur and Chamonix, but it got better from there.
Has your style changed this year by advancing up into the adult tour?
What I wanted to do was ski my style, which is fast and doing some trick if the venue has a feature. I’m not really into doing small tricks; I don’t think that’s very cool. So I’ve definitely become a faster skier.
So how about this venue. Obviously it’s not in the best shape right now, but what’s your strategy? Are you looking to take some airs or is your focus survival?
It’s definitely survival. That’s the number one priority. But there’s a fat cliff off the top I want to hit that’s scaring me because it’s really big. I’m not really sure about the rest of it quite yet.
Do you prefer to start off with a big air or does it depend on the venue?
I like big airs, so I usually look at the venue and photos and spot my line pretty easily. But the Bec is totally different. The sheer size of it when you look at it is just like, ‘Whoa, I have no idea where I want to go.’ It takes a lot of staring at it.