Tom Wallisch makes mainstream headlines

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 14, 2010 12:40 pm

It’s always nice to see “mainstream” news sources cover our sports. Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune did a nice piece of superstar freeskier Tom Wallisch. Check it out:

 ”It wasn’t all that long ago that Tom Wallisch was just another starving college student, skipping classes at the University of Utah for powder days on the ski slopes and hoping to catch a break.

Not anymore.

Oh, sure, the 22-year-old Pennsylvania native is still in college. Still loves powder days, too. But thanks in part to the Winter Dew Tour in which he will compete this weekend at Snowbasin Ski Resort, Wallisch has blossomed into one of the top freeskiers in the world who’s able to make a nice living at a sport he loves.

“My parents are blown away by it,” Wallisch said. “My dad never thought it was possible.”

That’s why his father lectured Wallisch about getting good grades once he moved to Salt Lake City from his home in Pittsburgh four years ago to attend Utah, not coincidentally because of all the ski resorts nearby.

But Wallisch kept working the slopes in between — and sometimes, instead of — his business marketing classes, and caught his big break last season at the final stop on the Winter Dew Tour. There, he won the freeski slopestyle event, and everything changed.

Major sponsors such as Monster Energy Drink and Scott USA started lining up, and prize money started to line his pockets and pay his bills.

“Up until then, I had low-level sponsors and wasn’t really making enough money to support myself,” he said. Now, “I’ve got some new sponsors that are really behind me and support me better than I
ever would have imagined people would want to support a professional skier. Being able to get by and make a living and actually survive off of skiing is crazy.”

The support has fueled even more success.

After also winning the Dumont Cup last spring, Wallisch appeared in The Alli Show reality series on MTV2, and continued to perform in video productions. As a result, he received his first invitation to the Winter X Games this year, which will take place in Aspen, Colo., in two weeks.

But before that, he hopes to enjoy another strong performance this weekend.

He’s already qualified for the finals of the men’s slopestyle event, by virtue of his second-place finish at the first Winter Dew Tour stop last month. That means he won’t have to compete against the likes of Simon Dumont and Andreas Hatveit — Tanner Hall is out for the season with an injury – until Sunday.

That’s when fans will be able to see the best of Wallisch’s trademark rail mastery, developed while growing up back east and skiing at resorts where terrain parks reigned over steep slopes.

“I’d just like to stay healthy all season, hopefully podium in all the contests I enter and keep going up and up,” he said. “As big as possible.”