‘Sorta Successful’ to ‘Next Level’

Cody Townsend talks about filming with Matchstick again and the 18-game football season that is winter

By Will Eginton

Last year, Cody Townsend showed up in Matchstick Productions’ The Way I See It as an alternate. Now, he's here to stay. If you've seen the new MSP trailer (above), you probably noticed Cody, clad in bright blue and yellow pants, pow-diving and hucking backies. Here, Powder.com chats with the perennially stoked, disturbingly mustached Californian about how things have changed since a 2010 Alaska trip that put him on the map.

POWDER.COM: So how did you end up getting that call to go to Alaska last year with Matchstick?

CODY TOWNSEND: Essentially, Abma blew his knee and they needed a replacement. It was a Salomon trip, and a lot of people were busy. I was at the bottom of the totem pole waiving upwards, yelling, "Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!"

Townsend, among the gnomes, at Selkirk Mountain Experience in 2011 with MSP. Photo: Adam Clark

Townsend, among the gnomes, at Selkirk Mountain Experience in 2011 with MSP. Photo: Adam Clark

Would you consider last year your breakout season? For sure. You know, I've been competing and filming a little bit over the years. I've been sort of successful as a professional skier, but I've never really broken into that next level. I think last year really did that.

Taking it to 11 type thing? In reality, nothing has changed for me. I'm still skiing for the same reasons that I became a pro skier—fun. I'd say the only difference is recognition. Otherwise, I guess I've always felt like a pro skier. Even when I was ski bumming, I was just skiing and I got free skis out of it. I felt like I was doing something right.

What was the deal with the Salomon Freeski TV episode from Alaska? Was there any truth behind it? The ‘competition’ between Henrik and I? Yeah. There is pretty much no truth behind the actual competition. As a skier, it is always fun to be a little competitive with the other person, and you are always feeding off each other. That might be the underlying truth, [but] that was all totally made up after the fact. We were trying to look for something funny and dramatic to capture everyone's attention.

You’ve filmed with the now-defunct Rage Films, TGR, and now Matchstick. Is it a different experience filming with the different companies? TGR and Matchstick are really not that different. With Matchstick, I end up traveling more because they don't really have a home base like Jackson, [still] it feels like there is not much difference. You are always out there with either one or two cameramen that are fun to hang out with, and you are just kind of skiing and getting shots. You could say there is a different level of professionalism, but I don't think that. I don't notice it. I'm just out there skiing, and there is someone filming me while I do it.

Why didn't you film with TGR this year? I had to commit one way or the other. You can only have so much time to make a really good segment. As a big mountain skier, you don't have many days to actually film. Jeremy Jones always told me, "You will only have seven bluebird pow days in a given year, so you might as well make ’em count." It gets hard to divide that limited window between two companies, and you know, there is always business, politics, and sponsor side of things.

Did you compete at all this past season? No. It was the first time in a long time that I did not compete. It was a nice change of pace. Competitions are really fun, and they make you a great skier. It definitely is a good vibe, but you don't get to ski all that much. You essentially wait a week for one run. You put all your energy into that, and half the time it's not that great of snow. When you are on a film schedule, you basically just chase around good snow for the entire year. It is definitely ideal for me to schedule my season around filming.

Where did you go this year with Matchstick? I went to the Selkirk Wilderness Lodge in interior British Columbia, and then Northern Escape Heli up in northern British Columbia. Those are the only two trips I actually went on. I filmed a lot with Salomon Freeski TV in the Pacific Northwest this year.

How much time did you spend with each trip you took with Matchstick? I spent about a month. I did two two-week trips, essentially. During the Selkirk Wilderness trip, we skied 13 out of 13 days; that was awesome. Up in northern British Columbia, we only skied four out of 16 days. I didn't get too many days filming with them, so you got to make them count.

"When the consequences are high, every once and a while you make a mistake, and disaster happens." - C. Townsend, here, in B.C. in '11 with MSP.Photo: Adam Clark

"When the consequences are high, every once and a while you make a mistake, and disaster happens." - C. Townsend, here, in B.C. in '11 with MSP. Photo: Adam Clark

Well, you certainly have a presence in the new Matchstick trailer. Yeah! I was surprised by that. Those blue and yellow pants were popping up all over the place.

What happened with that crash? Yeah… that was just making a mistake on a high consequence line. When the consequences are high, every once and a while you make a mistake, and disaster happens. It came down to scouting more than anything. It was the last day of the trip at about four o'clock in the afternoon, and confidence was running high. I had been skiing well and stomping things. We showed up to this face, and Rory Bushfield looks at me and goes, "I know what line I'm not doing." I pointed up and said, "That one?" He just said, "Yeah, that one. Screw that." It was the line I was looking at. It was just one of those things where the line just kind of called to me. I scoped it for a solid half-hour. I was still nervous about the way it looked, but when you look up in these really big mountains, it is really hard to judge depth and size. The scale is so much bigger. I couldn't tell that there was actually a fin of rocks that stuck out about twenty feet from the cliff. From all the angles I looked at, it actually appeared flush. I also couldn't tell how steep the takeoff actually was. I came into it, and it was absurdly steep. No matter how much speed I took into it, I wouldn't have cleared those rocks. It was just a line that didn't go. I could have hit it differently and cleared the rocks, but from the get go, the line I took appeared to be the best approach to stomp. Sure enough, it was the best way to blow up.

Any injuries? Yeah, I blew my knee. It was my first one ever. I had surgery about nine weeks ago, and it is coming along really, really well. I should be on skis in September. In all reality, it was a pretty standard ski injury, even though it was gnarly crash.

Were you able to stay healthy otherwise? I always say that spending a season filming is like playing an 18-game football season—by the end, you’re playing with bruises and dings. I was never fully healthy. I dislocated my rib halfway through the Selkirk trip with Matchstick. So I spent the rest of the trip with a rib popped out. I was cringing in pain every time I landed, but once the adrenaline kicks in, it feels good. But otherwise, yeah, healthy.

What was the highlight of your season? Oh man, there was so much pow this season that it kind of all blends together. There was just a ridiculous amount of snow. I'd say I had one day in Stevens Pass with Salomon Freeski TV that was one of the deepest days of my life. I also got to ski Mount Baker for the first time in my life. That mountain is ridiculously awesome.