Vail skier living the dream all winter
Vail, CO Colorado
Way back in November, Tyson Bolduc had a pretty big winter planned.
Bolduc, the Vail-based big-mountain skier, had plenty of backcountry filming on the schedule and had a good mix of contests penciled in, too.
But as the season progressed and offers to ski far and wide kept coming, life just kept getting better and better for Bolduc. And now, as April has given way to May, it hasn’t stopped.
“I’m in Crested Butte, and it’s been dumping all day,” Bolduc said Thursday night. “I’m starting to hear people say, ‘I’m sick of it and want to wear sandals.’ I’m ready for it to keep snowing.”
If you were Bolduc, you’d be ready for more powder, too.
As the season seemingly comes to a close, Bolduc is pushing 150 days or so on snow, most of it through untracked powder. And what makes it even better? Those days are work days.
“I make the joke all the time, very sarcastically, when I’m with a group at the top of a line or about to hike up and ski or on powder day. My term is that, ‘Life is hard,'” Bolduc said. “I couldn’t be more sarcastic as I say it. I’m living a very unique lifestyle, and it’s a dream that has always been with me for a long time.”
After some early days at Loveland and A-Basin on the “white ribbon of death,” Bolduc worked his way to some hiking along Vail Pass, and then, “as soon as December hit, there was enough snow to break out the snowmobiles, and it’s been on ever since,” he said.
In years past, Bolduc has done lots of still photography, but his goal for this season was to break into the film world, which he did with Two Plank Productions out of Crested Butte while still competing in some of the Extreme Freeskiing events.
While testing skis for Freeskier magazine in Utah with his friend Corey Tibljs ” a filmer with Two Plank Productions ” Bolduc met up with some guys who were planning a trip to Switzerland and Austria.
“That was just being in the right place at the right time,” Bolduc said.
Bolduc and Tibljs made the most of the early April trip to the Alps, filming segments for the upcoming movie featuring Bolduc, “Declaration,” which documents the freeskiing travels of several skiers across the globe. (A trailer of the movie showing Bolduc dropping some nice cliffs and carving fresh turns in the Swiss Alps is available at http://www.twoplank.com.)
Way before his Alps trip, and before his late March adventure in Norway that gave him a few first descents, Bolduc took a bit of a break to visit his parents in Mexico.
“When I left, I flew directly to Canada. It’s funny ” I showed up to a competition tanned and ready to go,” Bolduc said.
About a month after competing at the Canadian Freeskiing Championships, Bolduc joined the “Century Club” by dropping a 100-foot cliff.
Last winter, Bolduc was selected to compete in a new competition at a previously unskied site in northern Norway.
“It was the most amazing setting. There were 32 different athletes from 17 different nations. We were there 14 days, and it rained for 10. We didn’t really accomplish what we wanted to,” Bolduc said.
This winter, Bolduc got a message from the event organizers, saying they were bringing back a select group from the original contest.
“They still had the permit to explore the area, but they didn’t have the sponsorship,” Bolduc said. “I was invited, but they wanted to have just me, but I said there was no way I’m traveling halfway across the world solo. … So six days before I left, I called my brother (Onie) ” he was at his office ” and I didn’t give him a choice. I said, ‘You’re going to Norway.'”
In Tamok, Norway, about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Bolduc finally got that nice view he’d been hoping for last year.
“I knew there was this big valley but never really experienced the peaks (last winter) because of the fog and rain,” he said. “You could see for hundreds of miles in every direction. You could see into Finland and Sweden and all the way down the West coast of Norway.”
Standing atop a peak with the rest of the group, Bolduc stopped for a second to reflect upon what he was going to do ” ski some never-before-touched terrain.
“I was trying to think back to the original explorers, and I know we were in no way roughing it ” there was radio chatter, a film crew and a helicopter hovering above you ” but to me it’s a dream come true to be able to ski something no other human has dared to do,” Bolduc said. “There are so many factors that need to align. The lines are so steep and dangerous, so the snow conditions need to be optimal to be able to ski the lines we’re skiing.”
During all of his adventures, Bolduc never lost sight of the fact that what he’s doing is very dangerous. During one of the big events ” the World Freeskiing Championships in Alaska in early April ” Aspen’s John Nicoletta fell during his run and died.
“It’s a very close-to-home question now,” Bolduc said. “(John) was a very good friend of mine. I lost three friends, including him. Having to go to three memorial services in the middle of the season and a couple days later go out and continue doing what you friends just died doing, … you have to take a couple more deep breaths and think about it. I analyze my actions a lot more closely. I think about the risks. Now, I’m thinking if the reward is worth the risk.”
And the risk-reward isn’t comparable to that of other sports, Bolduc said.
“The reward is personal. There’s no monetary compensation. If you ski a line nobody has skied, you won’t enjoy a luxurious life,” he said. “In football, if you accomplish something nobody else has done, you will live that luxurious life.”
After finishing up some filming in Crested Butte and getting a few more powder days, Bolduc will head back home for the summer to work with his brother at Bold Real Estate Solutions.
“The season has to come to an end at one point, and I need to get back into the real world,” Bolduc said.
When summer comes to a close here, Bolduc plans to kick off his winter a bit early, catching the end of the winter season in South America.
“To be able to live out this dream and experience it for everything ” yeah, life’s hard,” he said.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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