Hailing from the slopes of Sugarloaf, Maine, Keegan Kilbride, 22, moved to Breckenridge, Colorado, after high school with nothing but a car and a few pairs of skis. In 2016, between working odd jobs to support his ski habit, he submitted a last-minute entry to Level 1's SuperUnknown contest--which annually recognizes under-the-radar skiers--and won. This earned him a spot on the Level 1 athlete roster and a trip to Moscow to film a street segment for their newest film, Habit, as well as the coveted opening segment. His smooth style and deep bag of tricks scored him Breakthrough Performer of the Year at the 18th Annual Powder Awards in December.
When did you start skiing?
I grew up in Portland, Maine, and skiing Sugarloaf, which is about two hours from Portland. I went up a lot with my aunt who had a condo up there. None of my immediate family ever really skied, but since my mom's sister had a place, she'd bring me up a lot. From there I started doing a weekend program at Sugarloaf, started hitting the park a ton, and it all just kind of went from there.
What was it like winning Level 1’s Super Unknown back in 2016?
It was definitely like something out of a dream. That list of past SuperUnknown winners is pretty much the coolest part for me. Being able to have my name on that list means the world. (Josh) Berman was just a huge homie, and after that he was doing everything he could to help me out. It was a pretty big win. I was stoked.
How was it going from East Coast kid to filming with Level 1 in just a few years?
It's pretty unreal looking back on it. I'm still stoked. It seems like every day I meet and get to ski with people that I feel like I've known for forever through the internet, and all of a sudden we're friends going skiing together.
What did it feel like getting the call that you had landed the opening segment in Habit?
Your goal is to always put together the best segment you can, and having this really be one of my first segments, it's been pretty unreal hearing how stoked people are on it. I think I got the call from Freedle Coty, and at first I thought he was joking, and it wasn't until I saw the movie that I realized he wasn't joking. I actually saw the part for the first time at the premiere, so that was sick. There's been a lot of really cool opening segments out there, so hopefully mine holds up to some of them.
You traveled to Moscow, Russia, for another segment, what was that like?
It was insane. It all seemed to be going to plan until we got there. I had never met any of those dudes before, and we were all from different countries. Danny is from Russia, Rob is from Hong Kong, Laurent is from Switzerland, Noah's from Spain, and I'm from Maine, so it was just a crazy crew that we paraded around there with.
You had easily one of the worst crashes of the film, right after Laurent smashed his head on a rail. What happened?
It was pretty scary. My ski ejected off a rail and the edge came up and sliced my lower lip clean in half. I called my dad back in America and asked if our health insurance worked in Russia, and he started freaking out, asking what the hell I did. I felt really bad, because I scared him more than anyone, because I lost cell service right after that leaving him in the dark. The lady that ended up giving me stitches had actually never given anyone stitches before. It was at a pretty gnarly little public hospital that was actually more like a corner store between a liquor store and a grocery mart. But she ended up doing pretty well, and it got done for like a hundred dollars all said and done.
Where do you see park/urban skiing progressing in the future?
I see it hopefully not dying. I sure hope it doesn't die. I can see everyone going forward with a little bit more of The Bunch style, which is really really sick. I love watching that. For me, I definitely love skiing like that, but I also love to see the classic going fast style of street skiing. It's just really cool that no matter if it’s street skiing or park skiing, everyone that I love to watch has their own style. In the last X-Games Real Ski, it was clear everyone had their own personal style. Tom (Wallisch) is still skiing like Tom, and LJ (Strenio) is still skiing like classic LJ. My hope is that more and more people keep coming up in the game and changing what it looks like with their own styles. I honestly have no idea what it's going to be like, but I sure can't wait to see.
If you could be sponsored by one non-skiing brand, who would it be?
You didn't have to think about that!
I was actually just thinking about this yesterday. If I could just have a brand new pair of socks every day, I don't know what else I could ask for in life.