Balancing Act
Max Silverson
A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation to freedom. - Warren Miller

As a young freestyler moving your way up the ranks, what do you see as your biggest impediment to making it to the top? 

Moffat: Probably finishing high school and not failing. In this day in age there’s a lot of people who are really good, so there’s a lot of competition there, but finishing high school and juggling both school and career is the biggest.  

Obviously you don’t go from doing a 360 to all of a sudden landing a Switch Double Cork 1440, but how do you go about learning a new trick? Take us through the process.  

Moffat: For me it’s different from a lot of people’s process. It’s just getting your head wrapped around it. Nowadays the tricks are huge; it’s almost hard to practice them on a trampoline because you need so much airtime. If it’s a switch dub 12, I do the tricks that come before that—like a switch dub 9, then a dub 10. Also you can’t overthink it, so you just have to visualize it and do it one step at a time…that’s been working out for me. It’s just stepping-stones. Like, if I were to just go out and try a triple cork right now, it probably wouldn’t work out. 

In your training, do you focus more on progression or creating a solid foundation of skills? 

Moffat: I think it’s pretty balanced. Obviously my coach wants me to be an overall rounded skier, have all the unnaturals* and whatnot on lock, but also I can just work on crazy tricks that I’ve been working on for a while. Like in Mt. Hood I landed my first triple, which I was pretty stoked on. Overall, it’s pretty balanced between progression and getting things on lock down. I definitely need to work on some unnatural doubles, it’s a thing I can do, but something I need to perfect.  

*Unnaturals: Everyone has a natural direction that they prefer to spin and an unnatural direction. It’s like being right or left handed, except spinning and flipping your whole body instead of writing on a piece of paper. 

What steps do you take to look out for your safety to try and prevent injury?  

Moffat: Stretching is number one. Being smart on what you try too. Obviously these tricks aren’t the easiest thing, but if you’re confident with yourself and you know what you’re doing it helps you to stay away from injury. I’ve seen a lot of people come to the sport and assume that it just comes to them…they just huck themselves. You have to choose the hard tricks that you try wisely, because if you just wing it, it can end very poorly for you.

Say you’re half way through a double cork and you sense that it’s not going to end well. What can you do to safely bail out of that? Is there any way to make sure you land safely?  

Moffat: There are definitely ways. It depends on how it’s going to go badly. Sometimes there are split seconds where you can spot your landing and you can open up or tuck, but if you’re going to case, just tuck up as hard as you can and brace for impact.  

By tucking up or spreading out you mean changing your body position? 

Moffat: Yeah, it’s a way to change how fast you’re rotating. It goes into science, where a body in motion wants to stay in motion. If you open up your stance, you’ll rotate slower, if you tuck up, you’ll rotate faster.  If you know where you are, you can make adjustments for this so you don’t just land wherever.  

Ten years ago, the thought that people would be landing super stylish triples wasn’t even in the most remote realm of possibility. Where do you see skiing progressing in the next 10 years?  

Moffat: Honestly, I was thinking about that the other day watching videos from just a few years ago. Even from 3 years ago to today is ridiculous. I think we’ve maxed out the sport in terms of flipping. I don’t think anyone will do a quad, that’s just ridiculous. Even aerialists don’t do quads, and their jumps are made for that. I think that in terms of slopestyle, instead of two doubles and a triple, it will be back-to-back triples and whoever has the most stylish, landed consistently will take the win. That’s not necessarily the way I’d like it to go, but that’s the way I think it will go.

Where would you like to see slopestyle go? 

Moffat: I think there’s still so many double variations and axes that people haven’t figured out. I think that the courses should be more interesting. There was a World Cup slopestyle last year that had a super cool quarterpipe—kind of a halfpipe inside out if that makes sense—a quarterpipe on each side of the jump. I think that slopestyle courses should get super creative and super fun. Everyone has complex tricks, but it should be about how you can be most creative and put it down on crazy stuff. Not necessarily gnarlier, but more creative. 

Do you feel pressure from the industry to push the limits of your skiing? How do you deal with that influence?  The feeling that you get right before you drop in for a super gnarly trick…it’s crazy. But when you land it and complete the trick you’ve been thinking about forever…that’s what I like about it.  I don’t think about the pressure from the industry that supposedly says, “You have to go out and do this.” I just do it for myself. I do it because I want to, and not because the industry is trying to tell me to do it. 

You’re sixteen years old.  Do you see yourself pursuing a career path in skiing all your life or do you have a getaway plan? 

Moffat: Ummm…hmmm. I guess that’s why I’m going to school. I’d love to work in the industry my whole life. Even if I don’t make it huge, I’d love to ski, maybe coach. If it doesn’t work out for me then for sure I’d like to stay in the industry, maybe start a ski shop or something.  

What do you see as the biggest risk you take? 

Moffat: The first thing that popped into my head is that I hate flying on airplanes. That’s definitely not the biggest risk I take but it seems like it! I guess hitting a huge jump and trying a gnarly trick is probably the biggest thing, but if you think about it that way it probably won’t work out well for you. I try to assess my risk in that department. You have to be able to know what you’re doing and if you’re confident, it just doesn’t seem that risky when you go through the assessment in your mind. It might be for other people, but if I feel confident that I can land this trick, it’s not risky. 

What do you think your parents see as the biggest risk you take? 

We’re on speaker phone and Max’s mom chimes in: “Not following his dream! If he doesn’t do this, then that’s a huge risk. You have to get out there and do it. We want him to follow his dream, because if he doesn’t, he’ll curl up and die (laughs!).” 

Freeskier Max Moffatt wants to see the creative boundaries of the sport be pushed, and yet he’s focused on taking it one step at a time.
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