Chris Davenport, Ski Icon The two-time World Extreme Skiing Champion opens up to Gear.com in this exclusive interview. From midnight ice-axe self-arrests on high peaks, to his first days as a professional skier, to what it's like to be raising the next generation of rippers.

by: jonny atencio, gear.com

GEAR:
You've been in countless ski movies, magazines have named you one of the top skiers in the world, and you're universally respected for your widely-publicized summiting of Colorado's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet within a single year. Over the years you've had more than 20 top ski competition results. Oh yeah, and you've won the World Extreme Skiing Championships...twice. Nobody gets to your level in any pursuit without serious dedication and vision. When did you have that moment where you thought: "I think I could make a living being a skier?”

CHRIS:
There was actually a single moment where I saw that this pro skier thing might be possible for me… It was in April of 1996 and I had just won the World Extreme Skiing Champs in Valdez, AK.  On the flight back home I was thinking about how I could lever this title into an opportunity to represent brands and make a living doing it.  I wrote a bit of a business plan on that flight and then contacted a bunch of companies I respected. By the summer I had good contracts and although I kept my “summer” job working on the trail crew at Snowmass, the following winter it was full speed ahead as a pro skier.

GEAR:
You've skied all across the globe, from Everest to Antarctica. Favorite part of traveling?


CHRIS:
There are a lot of things I love about travel, so it would be hard to pinpoint one thing.  But for sure, traveling to ski is amazing because of all the incredible mountain locations I visit.  Plus there is the global ski family thing… all the friends and connections you make over time.  That is really special.  The thing I don’t love about traveling is the carbon footprint of it all.

GEAR:
You are one of the most prolific athletes ever, how many days a year are you on the road?

CHRIS:
There have been many years where I was gone 6-7 months, and skiing 200+ days.  But when our kids were little I tried to dial it back a bit, although that didn’t really work.  Opportunity calls and I go… but I have gotten better at saying “no” to things and trying to stay busy more locally.  But for sure, one of the keys to my success was the hustle I put into the job.  I worked really hard at trying to be the best I could be as a skier, and it has paid off.

GEAR:
When you have time to ski with the kids, how do you make the most of it?

CHRIS:
I have three boys, and when we all get to ski together it's the best day ever.  My two older boys are at Holderness School (my alma mater) in New Hampshire ski racing back east, so we see them less and less, but they are stoked on what they are doing.  We of course get to shred together over the holidays, and I’ll travel to some of their races.  Then we get a couple weeks on snow at Portillo, Chile in August as well. 

GEAR:
When you are not skiing, what are some of your favorite recreational activities?

CHRIS:
I have always been into bikes.I started road racing when I was a teen and went to the US nationals in ’89 which was amazing.  Nowadays I try and ride every day in the summer and fall, or at least when I’m not on the road working.  Climbing has also played a big part in my life, and was one of the main reasons I went to CU in Boulder for college.  I don’t climb as much any more but keep telling myself I want to dive back into it.  A life goal a while back was to climb 5.13 so that is still in the back of my head.

GEAR:
I've heard a rumor...do you cook?  

CHRIS:
I am one hell of a backcountry chef!  Be it a hut trip, or a Denali expedition I can whip up some tasty meals in the backcountry.

GEAR:
What is a favorite meal that you prepare?  Share a secret recipe?

CHRIS:
One of my favorite glacier camping meals is a big fat quesadilla- black beans, jalapeño jack cheese, rice, some plant-based protein, jalapeños, and cilantro.  Along with some sour cream from a tube.  You have to have a big fry pan and two stoves side by side to do this right.

GEAR:
What type of training do you do in preparation for the ski year?  Throughout the year?

CHRIS:
Between the aerobic activities of biking, mountain climbing, and trail running and some core work at home, that pretty much covers me until ski season.  Then it’s just lots and lots of laps on the hill and in the BC.  

GEAR:
Do you have a special type of diet?

CHRIS:

I have been a vegetarian since I was a teenager… but about a decade ago I started eating fish as well.  There are so many great plant-based protein options now its really easy to get all the nutrition I need without any meat.

 GEAR:
What is one of the more sketchy situations you have been in on one of your adventures?

CHRIS:
Oh man, lots of stories could be told here… I have been around a couple avalanche fatalities that were not my group, but that I was first on scene for, and those are really intense and eye opening.  I guess that is more intense than sketchy, but does highlight one's skills or weaknesses.  I’d like to think that after all these years and experiences I’m a decent decision maker… I constantly think about managing risk to achieve the best results.  But sometimes nature does her thing and you can’t control it.  

One event that comes to mind was back in 1997, I was living in Las Lenas for the season and we went to camp overnight high on a ridge for a summit ascent the next morning.  I was with three friends with two tents, and of course back then we didn’t have great weather forecasts.  In the middle of the night the wind started howling and began to blow our tents off the ridge.  The tent stakes ripped out and we began sliding across the snow.  I was awake holding the tents walls up anyway, and at this point grabbed my ice axes out of the vestibule and literally plunged them through the tent floor to self-arrest the slide.  We pulled the tent poles and slid our gear below the ridge and out of the strongest wind.  We were up the entire night dealing with this shit show but managed to laugh it off the next morning.  It was a scary experience at the time, but one that you chalk up to the learning curve in the mountains.

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