It’s All About Progression

I love skiing.  If I had to rank passions, it’s one of my top two.  But it wasn’t always that way.

My dad set me up in my first lesson just before my third birthday and until I was a junior in high school, it was just something I did with my family.  I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t spend my week ogling over binding systems, building a life list of resorts to hit, or day dreaming about tree runs.  But as I got older, better, and found a few friends who would occasionally brave the traffic on I-70 to spend the day on the mountain, my passion grew.  Now I track my ski days and vertical, check the snow report daily, watch all kinds of ski flicks, and pester every skier I know to join me on the hill.

Last week I attended an event where professionals in the action sports business talked about their lives and career paths. Chris Davenport, one of the country’s best known ski mountaineers explained his career path and progression as a skier.

Dav rips. Photo: Chris Davenport Skiing, Mike Arzt

Growing up on the East Coast, Davenport cut his teeth racing on the icy hills of Vermont.  After college, he began entering big mountain contests for fun.  His talent caught the eyes of sponsors and filmmakers, and a career as a professional big mountain skier followed.

Ski films may look glamorous, but the process is not. It takes hours to set up and film a single shot.  There are long downdays waiting for the rain to pass or the powder to fall.  The temperatures can be bone-chilling and equipment breaks. Avalanche danger constantly lurks overhead. Not to mention the big risks taken for sexy shots.

After years on the ski mountaineering and filming scene Davenport began to question what was next.  He was offered a lucrative job in finance that would allow him to stay in Aspen and he heavily considered it, but he wasn’t ready to give up the outdoor lifestyle just yet.  On a mountain bike ride he took to think it over, a new idea struck him.  Fourteeners.  He would climb and ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks in less than a year. And that’s just what he did from January 2006 to January 2007.  In the end, the effort was successful and resulted in a book, Ski the 14ers.

Since the fourteeners journey, Devenport’s career has never been better.  He’s had fantastic opportunities to climb, ski, and guide at home in Aspen and abroad, great sponsorship offers from the likes of Red Bull, Spyder, and Kastle skis, and been able to continue to pursue his passions for skiing and mountaineering.

At the event, Davenport explained it was all about progression, following his passion for skiing from racing, to big mountain competitions, to filming, to guiding and mountaineering. He’s been able to grow and change while doing one thing he loved, long past the time he could have been simply a racing king.

Indeed, it really is all about progression.  I hope with any of my talents and passions I can continue  grow and change with them as they evolve into new and wonderful things, and that I am richer for it.  For skiing, I hope this means beginning to dabble in sidecountry and backcountry trips.  In-bounds, I have new sections of ski areas I’m hoping to tackle this winter. Last winter, La Niña looked fondly upon us and I got to ski more untracked powder than I could ever imagine before.

I’ve come a long way since toddling days on the rope tow, and I’m very excited to continue the progression.

This summer's progression: my first pond skim.