After ski racing through high school, Connery Lundin, 27, switched gears and went on to win the 2015 Freeskiing World Tour, which led to his breakout film segment, and a role in Matchstick Productions' new movie, Drop Everything. This interview is the extension of the “Pro Deal” quiz which ran in the September issue of POWDER (46.1).
How old were you when you learned to ski?
I was 2 years old. My dad grew up in the Midwest and he loved skiing. He was all about Squaw in the ’60s. He thought was the coolest place—and it still is super cool—so we came up every weekend (Connery grew up in the Bay Area). He got me into it, but I hated it when I was little. I totally liked warm weather and the beach, but dad was persistent and now I love it.
As an ex-racer, what are your feelings on boot bags?
If you can do it on rollerblades, you can do it on skis.
Did you ever have a moment when you realized you wanted to ski for a living?
Ski Movie III: The Front Line made me want to be a pro skier. It's a mind-blowing film with all sorts of skiing, not just park, and the coolest skiers. A lot of it was filmed in Squaw so I pretended to be those guys.
I have 1,000 favorite skiers. Candide for his speed, C.R. Johnson for his diversity, Tanner Hall for his passion for the sport, even if he is a loose cannon at times. Tom Wallisch for his creativity. And McConkey for all of those things.
It seems like most of the skiers crushing it right now have racing backgrounds. Ever miss it?
I liked racing, but I was always trying to bring my twin tips with slalom and GS skis. My coach would unzip my bag and throw them off the top of the truck. I'd think, ‘Damn it, now I have to slide rails on my slalom skis.’
When I was 19, racing was hyper-competitive and I didn't get to freeski at all. It sucked all the fun out of skiing and I wasn't racing well because of it. I knew then I wanted to be done with racing. Thank God I quit.
Did you just quit racing, or skiing altogether?
I went to the University of Colorado in Boulder and the first year just dilly-dallied and didn't ski that much because I was so burnt out on ski racing. Then a friend convinced me to go to Telluride for this freeride event, and I ended up getting third place. I competed at Crested Butte and Snowbird that same year, and kept doing it through college until I went to Revelstoke for the first joint FSWT and FWT competition. I won fourth place and realized I wanted to take it all a bit more seriously.
I really wanted to finish up school too—I still had two more years. But I stuck with school with a plan to pursue skiing after. I'm happy I did that, but it was a big risk. I did the whole thing backwards: I went to school, then tried to be a pro skier, and I'm skiing more and more park as I get older.
So you stayed in school and studied what?
I was a marketing and business major, mostly because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. But as it turns out, understanding marketing is half of being a pro skier.
After you got fourth in the Revelstoke stop of the Freeskiing World Tour (2011), how did you celebrate?
The guys I was skiing for gave me $200 to go party. I brought one of my skis out with me that night and when I got back to California the next morning, realized I left one of them at a 7-Eleven in Revelstoke. I let them keep it.
Sounds like the competition scene is a good time, but you haven't competed since you won the Freeskiing World Tour in 2015. What gives?
Competing is not something I would want to be doing for a long time. I don't find it very sustainable as an athlete. I dropped it like a bad habit.
All skiing is dangerous, but competing is an environment that's dangerous and you have to be mentally strong to make the right decisions, and to know when to push it and when not to.
My goal was never to compete but to film, and competing is the best training. I learned to perform under pressure, how to scope a line—the Tour was a steppingstone.
But the win helped, right?
Oh, yeah. It's really hard in skiing now to be a pro. There are so many good skiers, but a title legitimizes you for sponsors. I was skiing the same the whole time, but now I had the title.
In 2016 you had your first film role in the POWDER Productions documentary Monumental. What was that first filming experience like?
My first legitimate filming experience was really intense. I got a random call from KGB about an idea they had. They were doing all these trips skiing in the national parks and the needed athletes. I had never used skins or AT bindings, but I told them I was dialed. I went in blind just off advice I got at the bar in Big Sky the week before.
The first day started off sunny [in Yosemite] and we had our shirts off, then hell froze over for six days straight. I'd never gone touring, never winter camped. But in the end the skiing was great. It was the best segment of Monumental.
And, naturally, that parlayed into a naked front flip over Lake Tahoe, in Drop Everything?
[MSP director and cinematographer Scott] Gaffney has always instigated these things. He wanted a flip, and the next thing I know I’m fully naked, pale as a ghost, and the first one I did was not that steezy. So he tells me to go again, and I’m just hiking naked, the camera on me the whole time. I was naked for almost an hour to get four or five hits.
The thought of overrotating onto my face and my balls was definitely in the back of my mind, but I felt pretty comfortable with it. There’s definitely risk anytime you’re naked. But especially when you’re inverted with a blind landing, there’s extra risk there. And I think that applies to life in general.