Words: Jeremy Benson
Twenty-five-year-old Sean Collin is one of only ten Americans competing in the 2013 Freeride World Tour. The Truckee, CA, native grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. A former freestyle skier, Collin used to compete in halfpipe competitions including the U.S. Open and the Dew Tour, but he also qualified for the 2013 FWT by taking 2nd place in the 2012 tour stop at Kirkwood.
Last year was his first in big mountain competitions, this year he's been mixing it up in freeskiing's main event with the up-and-comers and legends of the sport. Prior to the Kirkwood event this year, Collin's best performance was in Chamonix where he placed 14th. He took 6th place on the Cirque at Kirkwood, and moved himself up to 15th place in the overall standings. On March 9th, Collin will compete in Fieberbrunn, Austria with the hopes of earning himself a spot in the FWT's grand finale in Verbier, Switzerland.
We caught up with Collin to find out what he's learned as a rookie on the FWT.
How has this season gone for you prior to the Kirkwood event?
Not as well as I'd hoped… I had a fall in Revy, a punch-front on a fat to flat cliff, and in Courmayeur I fell again. Needless to say, I was a bit of a head case going into Chamonix, I really needed to land one and get my momentum back. I chose a line I knew wouldn’t be a problem, skied it fast and confidently. I was a little disappointed by how I scored, but I probably just chose too simple of a line.
What are some of the biggest challenges competing on the FWT?
Line choice is hard for me. I am pretty quick at spotting and picking out a line, but then I talk to other people and start second guessing myself, thinking that the line is too easy or too many other people are going to try and ski it.
On competition days, do you guys look at lines together and talk through it, or keep secrets?
I think it is a pretty even mix. A lot of people aren’t really concerned with sharing, but there are some people that try and ask where you are skiing but won't tell you their plan, it’s all just different competitive tactics. When you spot something really cool that you don’t think others know it's hard to keep it a secret, but there's a big part that wants to keep it on the hush-hush.
Any fellow competitors that you really look up to?
I don't try to ski like anyone else, I think I've got a pretty unique style that works in my favor. I really admire Drew Tabke’s skiing though. I think he brings the best of both worlds. He doesn’t sacrifice line choice to do tricks.
Has anyone on the tour really helped you out, or been a mentor for you?
I think we all help each other out, sharing ideas, lines, what we're thinking. I haven’t really bonded with any senior competitors for them to take me under their wing. It’s really been a group of us rookies that have hooked up and try to figure it out together.
You’re currently ranked 15th overall, how do you feel about your chances of making it to Verbier?
It'll be hard. My finish at Kirkwood helped a lot, but I know there are a lot of people hungry to get into the top 12.
You just had your best performance of the season at Kirkwood, anything you did differently there?
Something was off the first part of the tour, I kept thinking about how the judges will score that, or if the run was too easy. At Kirkwood I knew I just needed to get back to my original game plan that I'd been neglecting, ski a fun line, and throw some tricks. I did it and it paid off.
How do you like competing so close to home?
I'm so happy the only U.S. comp is so close to home. It was so easy to pack up the car, not have to worry about a plane ride, and just drive two hours to the resort. Having friends and family at the event was a huge bonus too, the hometown crowd pumps me up to ski my best.
Any major lessons you’ve learned throughout the course of the season competing on the FWT?
I've learned to pick a line that suits your skiing, not to try and ski for the judges. We've gotten to ski in four of the greatest places in the world. If you're just happy to be there and ski a run that makes you smile ear to ear when you get to the bottom, you’ll be stoked and the score will reflect that.
Any predictions for the overall podium?
Tabke 1st all the way. I got a feeling Charlie Lyons is about to make moves, he's been so consistent all season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up 2nd. Fabio 3rd, Fieberbrunn suits his style and if he can put another one together like in Cham, he could take home the win.
Fieberbrunn is only nine days away, are you stoked to head back to Europe?
Hell yeah. A little stressed though. I hope I don't get fired from my job. A lot of people don't know this but I'm an accountant.