For the January edition of Park City Life, we interviewed pro skier Tanner Hall. The freeskier had a lot to say, but only five questions from the hour-long exchange could go to print.
Since Tanner’s one of the biggest names in freeskiing (and the most talkative), we decided to bring you the best of his unpublished responses. Through the course of our conversation he was many things—thoughtful, pointed and even crass—but he was always laid back and always genuine. From the Olympics to arthritis, here’s life from Tanner Hall’s perspective.
On his first ski memory:
“The first memory I have was doing a 360 when I was six or seven years old. I just remember coming down and you’d go over the cat track and turn 180 back up the hill and just 360 back onto the track. You’d only get a little bit of air, but I remember the first time I landed it and my smile. I was like 'Holy ****!' No… I think I just started screaming, 'Oh my God I did a 360! A 360! 360!' for like an hour straight. And my two friends didn’t land after me so I was like, 'Pssh!'”
On his first backcountry pro model:
“It’s about time.”
On competing post-injury:
“You gotta be 120 percent confident in yourself and in your ability and in your body. Right now, I’m confident in my ability and what I want to do, but my body—I’m just gonna be extra smart ‘cause I usually return a little bit quicker than I should just because I’m so hungry to get back.”
On arthritic knees:
“It’s not bad, I feel like I’m 15 again when I’m at the gym; but at nighttime and when the snow comes my knees and my ankles are like barometric pressure gauges. It’s kinda sick if it’s sunny the day before and I kind of feel some weird stuff I can be the first one to know it’s coming.”
"You need a balance—one crazy and one normal. The normal one keeps the crazy one on point and the crazy one gives the normal one a little bit of fire underneath her.”
On being single:
“That’s why I keep talking about the cuties, man! Ha! I’m single ready to mingle just lookin for a normal girl!”
“If you wanna talk music here in the states, I think it’s all watered down, even down to rap music—it all sucks. There’s no message to it, it’s just music with a gimmick. Look at music today: it’s Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift and where’s the message in that?”
“The first time I went down there was the first time my eyes were really opened to third-world poverty and it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s why I really wanna provide more opportunities than 'grab a gun and do crime or grab a mic and go into the recording booth or go to the track and do running.' There’s three outlets in Jamaica and that’s sad when it comes down to it.”
On returning to the States:
“When you’re on the streets in Kingston you see shit you wish you’d never seen—I get off the airplane in Miami and start kissing the ground, look up in the sky, and say, 'Thank you, God because my life is so good.' I might have problems here and there but I don’t have problems like those down in Jamaica. It increases my appreciation for life.”
On his role in the industry:
“At the end of the day, I might have a studio in Kingston, I might have this or that going on, but at the end of the day I’m a skier and I love this ****. This is what I am no matter what, and even if my legs get cut off I’m gonna become the best sit-skier in the world.”
On the best line in Utah:
“Hmmm… (a special place) out at Logan Canyon. It’s pretty much Alaska right in front of your face here in Utah. But, I really don’t like to say that… let’s not say (a special place) let’s say 'a special place out at Logan Canyon.' I don’t want to be the guy that all the backcountry skiers are like, 'Yo, what the **** was that all about? You jerk.' How about Grizzly Gulch? That’s the most played out place in Utah. [Say that.]”
On Simon Dumont (another professional skier):
“Me and him are just two different people. We don’t hang out with each other, we don’t really talk to each other, but that’s not to say we don’t respect each other. We feed off each other more than anybody else in the industry. We need that; it’s our driving force. But on the real, we’re just two different people. My crew is way different from his crew, what I think life is about is different than what he thinks life is about. We keep that separation there, but at the end of the day the respect is there too.”
On hoping your rivals fail:
“That’s bad karma, man. You always want to see everybody do their best. In a good competition, if everybody’s skiing their best and you win—you know you’re the best.”
On the Olympic Halfpipe ski team:
“If I were to predict the team I would say Simon Dumont, Gus Kenworthy, myself, and…Torin Yater-Wallace.”
On the FIS (International Ski Federation):
“[Freeskiing in the Olympics] could be a bad thing for our sport. FIS is a shi—it’s a crazy organization. I’m not gonna say that it’s a **** organization, it’s just filled with a bunch of psychopaths. It’s 'you either do it this way, or get out of here!' I just don’t want to see an organization like that, and see a bunch of 50-year-old out of shape dudes in Europe that don’t even go on the hill and don’t ski halfpipe—I don’t want to see them control the sport’s future. I don’t like that.That’s why I’m training my ass off and do everything I can to get [to the Olympics] to represent it in a good light.
Want to read more about skiing sensation Tanner Hall? Flip the January issue of of Salt Lake magazine over for our Park City Life publication.