Steve a quick fire round of questions, what skis are you taking from the workshop this season? Why those?
I always take is the Director Carbonlite [191cm], this ski is very versatile, I mount mine with a Dynafit Beast 14 and quite often tour on this on big powder days, or when I’m carrying a lot of heavy camera equipment. It’s a super fun all mountain charger, rips on piste and is very forgiving for short turns in the trees but also holds its composure well at speed. I’ll be pushing 110kg with a camera bag, and I like to think I’m no slouch on skis, so it can handle plenty of abuse.
My main focus now with skiing is the travel, adventure and exploration aspect, and the R.98 Carbonlite [185cm] unlocks endless possibilities in that arena. It’s super lightweight but still has great downhill performance - focused enough to be skied properly on the descents. I also love the metal skin clip on the tail, I worked on the original prototypes of this in Alaska in 2012 and we’ve really nailed the design and durability of the skin clip on the current models.
Another ski I use when the conditions (and mood/ energy levels) permit is the R.118. It is a charger! A lot more refined and forgiving than the original models, but still if you want to do Super G turns down a big mountain face, you need a pair in your quiver.
You live in France and have done for nearly 10 years now, you’ve recently moved to the Tarentaise valley, what are you looking forward to in your new location?
I’ve been in Chamonix itself for about 8 years and I have wanted to check out how I felt about living in another part of France for a while now. I’ve managed to find a great location with tonnes of office space for my creative projects. For the 7-8 months of the year that we don’t have snow, the quality of the road cycling and mountain biking here is second-to-none.
I’m looking forward to discovering what feels like a new ski area, despite first learning to ski in Les Arcs 25 years ago I surprisingly can’t really remember it, and since I don’t get to ski every day now, I’m also pretty stoked that the powder here is a little less ‘contested over.’ Also it’s only a couple of hours drive back to Chamonix when I want to ski back there, and no doubt I will be over there a lot!
You seem to live in your Mountain Equipment x Whitedot Eclipse Hoody (although I can tell he does wash it!), what is it about the technical mid-layer that you enjoy?
Mid layers are pretty much a necessity for any outdoor enthusiast these days, I’m not just wearing this for skiing but like you say, I pretty much never leave the house without it. I really like how we have taken the great technology and specialist clothing knowledge from Mountain Equipment and refined it into a freeride skiing fit and functionality with the knowledge we have developed as a team of product designers over the last decade. The fleece material is really warm and wicks away moisture well yet is also very stretchy which makes it great for different sports as well as super comfortable. Also yes, it’s handled 20+ machine washes very well, otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed in the workshop. [very true!]
Mountain Equipment x Whitedot Eclipse Hoody
What five items do you always pack in your rucksack when you head out into the mountains?
What single bit of advice would you give to skiers looking to get into Freeride skiing?
For anyone wanting to get into freeride skiing, go and spend a bit of time skiing race gates, there are hundreds of clubs around the world where you can do this relatively cheaply. The technique you learn from having a good race skiing/piste skiing ability will act as a good solid base from which to then improve as your off piste experience grows. It’s easier to start with a good technique and build on that than to waste good powder days fixing bad and old habits!
Owen is a Lead mountain guide, and coverts a roll in the snowsports industry that many would sell their Kidney for, he works for the Northern Escape Heliskiing operation out of British Columbia.
A lightweight touring ski should have no troubles on the uphill, so we tested the Whitedot R98 on the whole of the mountain to try and find its limits...
The Preacher Carbonlite proclaims its backcountry credentials from the mountaintops, whether lift- or skin-accessed. But would our reviewer see the Lite? The only way to find out was to TESTify!