Words: Julie Brown
In honor of his third Invitational, Sammy Carlson decided to up the ante and triple the size of the main feature—a wall that stretches 85 feet across and has a U-shaped bowl in the middle. The bowl is a skate-park inspired feature with several big airs that will launch skiers into the middle of it. A solid crew—Tanner Hall, Henrik Harlaut, Phil Casabon, Simon Ericson, McRae Williams, and the list goes on—is showing up to Mount Bachelor this weekend. Expect to see great things. Carlson will be handing out dolla' dolla' bills, on the spot, to skiers who go big and show creativity.
"It definitely gets people stoked when you do something cool and get a little bit of money," says Carlson. "Everybody likes making money."
We caught Carlson just as he was coming off the hill to hear a little bit about this wall, the crew that's showing up, and a place called Fantasy Camp in Alaska, a fabled land he just returned from on a film trip with Teton Gravity Research.
How's the setup coming for the invitational?
It's going good. We have a five-man crew building the wall. It's a bit of a challenge this year with a little less snow. But overall everything is shaping up to be the best Sammy Carlson Invitational yet.
Tell me more about this wall you're building.
This year, we're doing another wall ride—more of a skate-style feature. It's three times the size of last year. It's insane. There's a lot of engineering behind it. We'll have a rail all the way around the top. In the middle, it's the same height, but there's a section that's bowled out. Think of a U-shape. But an obtuse U. It's so fun to come up with these ideas.
There's a lot of talent coming to your mountain this weekend. Are you psyched to host everyone?
It's rare to get together like this. Some days, we'll get together in the park and get some laps. But it's rare that we get together to ride a feature of this size. And not feeling the pressure, but to go out and ride together as a crew. That's what this whole event is about, bringing everyone out to Oregon and back to my roots where I grew up.
So you have $15,000 to give away to your friends. That must be nice.
I'll be giving money out for anyone doing anything sick that gets people hyped. I want to see a quad cork into the wall—that's what you got to do for the money. It definitely gets people stoked when you do something cool and get a little bit of money. Everybody likes making money.
You're coming back into the park at the end of the season from a winter spent mostly in the backcountry and skiing big mountain. How is that?
I like taking a break from the park and going out into the mountains and getting a different taste of skiing different aspects. Mentally, being up there and around the helicopter and in that terrain, it prepares me when I get back into the park. I feel really confident with what I do. Any type of skiing is good for you. You're always learning. Especially after being on huge skis and throwing tricks, you get back on your little skis and they feel like feathers.
What's this place called Fantasy Camp all about?
It's a new spot in Alaska that TGR went up to. I'm not really sure if they're going to disclose the location. I was lucky enough to go on the trip with Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa] and Ian McIntosh. It was good for me to get into some bigger terrain. It was amazing. We were snow camping up there. It was a pretty legit setup.
And so your invitational will be the event that will wrap up the winter?
It's a good way to end the season after a lot of competing. It's just great to come out to Bend and have a good time. Just bringing everyone out. Music will be playing. All the riders out here are really laid back and everyone's happy to be shredding together.
Check out this video from last year’s competition: