15 Minutes With... Seth Morrison


15 Minutes With... Seth Morrison

Seth Morrison is a legend. Who loves a huge cliff and a back flip. He’s seen and done it all, and starred in some huge ski movies. He talks to Nicola Iseard about his biggest inspirations, filming in Alaska, and why even he gets the fear off-piste in Chamonix.

FL: You're a ski hero to a lot of people. In fact, you're acknowledged as one of “the most influential skiers of our time.” Did you have a ski hero growing up? Do you still?

SM: Growing up, it was Pirmin Zurbriggen and Ingemar Stenmark. I was really into my racing, and those guys were the big guns back then. It soon switched to Scot Schmidt and Glen Plake. They were doing things we'd never seen before. They were new influences, new and fresh to us as kids.

FL: And today?

SM: This guy Andreas Fransson, he's been doing some crazy stuff lately. He's just had a pretty gnarly trip in Denali, going for one of the first ski descents out there. There's an interesting tale of him spending the night on the mountain, because rocks were falling down on him, so he just sat  behind a rock and waited until it was safe to ski again. He probably skied in the dark.

FL. Yeech. That is gnarly. Talking of Alaska – it's much like a second home to you. What is it about the place, the mountains, that are so special?

SM: The last couple of years we've tried to film in places where people've never really skied before. Alaska makes you feel like you're in the Wild Wild West. There's not many people out there, and less rules than you're typically used to. And that time of the year you're getting into the longer days of the season, so you have a lot more light to work with. The snow's as good as it gets – so you just hope for clear days to get out there and enjoy it.

FL: What do you do to keep yourselves amused? Charades? Greg Stump movies? Alaskan moonshine?

SM: Whatever is possible where we are – sometimes we play poker, frisbee, golf, go on hikes, take glacier boat tours, shoot guns, play video games, cross country ski, rock climb...

FL: Before we move on, favourite Greg Stump film?

SM: Everybody says Blizzard of Aaaahs. I love all the early movies, like Groove Requiem, you get locked into watching them, because of the great story they tell – ski movies don't really tell stories like that anymore. Blizzard of Aaaahs definitely tells the best story – Americans going to Chamonix to get away from rules and regulations, find freedom.

FL: So, is there anywhere you haven't yet skied that you're eager to?

SM: Greenland. We'll see if that ever happens. It costs a lot of money and it's hard to get a group that can afford to do it.

FL: Are there any lines you wouldn't repeat?

SM: Last season, for one of the last runs of the season [filming The Ordinary Skier],we got to ski The Mallory in Chamonix, under the Aiguille du Midi, and they were the most terrible conditions I've ever skied. We were skiing on ice for most of the time, and had to do lots of repels. It was four hours of just being scared.

FL: What about your most-stoke moment?

SM: [pauses] That same moment! I couldn't even see the way down at first – then doing it, well, it was the good, the bad and the ugly all in one.

FL: Do you still ski a bumps/mogul field if you pass one? Do you ever still pass them?

SM: I do. I'd much rather ski a mogul run than the groomers, for that added challenge.

FL: You started skiing aged six, in 1979 – could you ever have imagined skiing changing the way it has? Where do you think it's heading?

SM: Totally. It been amazing to see how it's changed, and to have been a part of making it change. Even when I started being a pro there weren't terrain parks. In some places they had half pipes that were only for snowboarders – you couldn't even go in there with skis. Things just keep getting bigger and better, and ski technology just keeps getter better. It's hard to say where it's going. People's minds are changing all the time, feeding off of what's been done before and putting their spin on it.

FL: Okay – random question alert. We've always wondered, when guy loses a ski half way down a run and tomahawks way past it, how do they get the ski back? Or is Alaska littered with goggles and poles?

SM: [laughs] There are definitely a lot of skis and poles lying around! I've been pretty lucky, with the falls I've had, most of my gear has come off nearby. Other guys haven't been so lucky. If it's retrievable someone will go back up to the top to get it. There was a guy we skied with a few season's ago. There was no way he was gonna hike up to get his ski, it was way too far up, so they got the helicopter close to the slope and the other guy jumped out of the helicopter to get it.

FL: Finally, is there anything you want to say? You know, like how on radio people often 'give a shout out to' people...Or a message maybe?

SM: One life to live, live it up, make the most of it. 

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