Interview by Justin Keppler
Pro Snowboarder Ian Thorley is a young up-and-comer that you’ve undoubtedly seen tearing it up in the competitive big air and slopestyle scene. Over the past few seasons he’s been no stranger to the podium and has been a top contender in the Mountain Dew Tour and US Open. He’s been featured in numerous video spots riding for Flow Snowboards such as 2010′s “Witness the Sickness”, and starred in a innovative web series called Seasonal Siblings which documented life in Lake Tahoe during the 2010/2011 season. Ian took a moment to speak with us earlier this month about life in the competitive scene, his video pursuits and shared his thoughts on the inclusion of snowboarding slopestyle in the upcoming Winter Olympics.
The Ski Channel: Over the past few seasons, you’ve been placing well in the competitive scene. How is the pro-boarder career been treating you?
Ian Thorley: It’s been all right. Not last season but the season before I was really stoked to be on the podium of the Dew Tour and while last year didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped, I still had a good time. We also took on production of Seasonal Siblings and that consumed a lot of my time this past season.
TSC: What was the original inspiration for Seasonal Siblings?
IT: We wanted to give people an insight on what it takes to be involved in the competitive snowboard scene. The three of us: Brandon Reis, Sam Hulbert and I all grew up wanting to be professional snowboarders, but we didn’t really know what steps to take. We are no different than any other kid who just wants to snowboard for a living, so we created a series that gives you an idea of what its like to put college aside and really pursue a career as a professional athlete. We strived to show what being a snowboarder really entails, and provide a behind the scenes look at the lifestyle.
TSC: What was your parents’ reaction to making the decision take a break from college and embark upon your boarding career full time?
IT: They were extremely supportive and helped send me to a sports academy school for high school in New Hampshire called Waterville Valley Academy. They knew that snowboarding was what I really wanted to pursue and that I could always go back to college if need be. They were definitely excited to see me start college but were even more excited that I got busy enough that it made sense to put academics on hold. My ultimate goal has always been to pursue snowboarding full time.
TSC: What was the response from the Seasonal Siblings web series?
IT: It has been good; we got a lot of great feedback from them. I think that the biggest compliment we have gotten was that many people have told us that’s its unlike anything else they’ve seen. It was very original in that our series wasn’t afraid to show disappointments that come along with the season such as not doing well and fighting. I think that’s what really shined — how we tried to keep it real.
TSC: What was your reaction to announcement of snowboarding slopestyle’s inclusion in the upcoming Sochi Games in 2014?
IT: I am excited, really excited. I think slopestyle has a huge following in the snowboard community. The people that are really into snowboarding like slopestyle and can relate to it. Unfortunately, its not as easy to spectate as half pipe is. So it never quite had the same growth as half-pipe. Now it seems people are putting an effort into slopestyle, and I think the Olympics is definitely the next step and it will be a good thing.
TSC: Is it a goal for you to qualify for the next winter games?
IT: Perhaps. If the Olympics are in my future then I am definitely all for it. But for now, I just want to focus on having the best season I can.
TSC: In your opinion what must athletes and Olympic officials focus on to ensure the slopestyle discipline’s creativity and spirit remain in tact?
IT: I think snowboarding half pipe was by far one of the most watched events at the Winter Olympics. The recent growth of snowboarding slopestyle has been significant enough to cause officals to take notice of its shared potential and warrant its inclusion in the next winter games. What I think is most important is that the snowboarders have some say in the development of the event. Sometimes they look at us riders as just pawns — they tell us where to be and what we are going to do. Yet, we don’t really have any say in course design, practice schedules or even what is considered safe conditions to compete in. Snowboarders need to step up and not be afraid to put their foot down and make their own demands in terms of safety regulations and tour conflicts. As long as Olympic officials keep in contact with the snowboard community and take our perspective in consideration, then slopestyle will be the best event it can possibly be in 2014. The more comfortable we are, the better we are going to ride and the better performance we will put on — it’s a win-win for everyone.
TSC: What competitions are coming up that you’re looking forward to?
IT: I am moving to Colorado in mid-November. In the first two weeks of December, there’s a thing called the Grand Prix at Copper and the upcoming Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge. I’ll be competing in slopestyle and big air.
TSC: Have you been working on any new tricks for this season?
IT: Not really. In the past I spend the summers trying out new tricks, but this year I focused on taking the ones that I already had to get extremely consistent with them. I think if I can get consistent then I will have a pretty good season this year.
TSC: What do you have in store for the 2011/2012 season?
IT: We are not exactly sure if we are going to do Seasonal Siblings again. It looks like we probably wont but we will be back in Tahoe. We are going to do all of the Dew Tours and Grand Prix’s and hopefully US X-Games and European X-Games. I’ll be filming on the side as well, and working on another video project with Flow Snowboards.
- End of Interview
You can check out Ian Thorley and the rest of the Flow Team in the latest team movie, Was Here. The film follows the crew on a mission to tour the world’s top mountain resorts, backcountry lines and creative urban features. Ian shares the screen with the likes of Scotty Lago, Tim Humphreys, Scot Brown, Mike Basich, Sarka Pancochova, Jeremy Thompson, Brandon Reis, Nial Romanek, Andre Kuhlmann and Shane Fortier.
Flow was rad enough to put this one out for everyone to enjoy online, so lets do just that:
Photography by Ben Birk – www.benbirk.com.