Last year The North Face Athlete Markus Eder skied more than 200 days. He spent the summer training, traveling and skiing in New Zealand. Then he moved to Chile and he was one of the skiers representing Europe at the Swatch Skiers Cup. He skied a sketchy line in a super smooth and fluid style, everyone down there turned his head looking at him skiing.
Unfortunately this year The North Face Athlete Markus Eder is out of season due to injury.
Hey Markus, tell us about your injury?
This Autumn I had a pretty stupid crash in Val Senales. First it did not even hurt a lot and the doc of the resort told me that it was nothing serious. But a few days after I did the MRI so I finally had a result: the ACL and meniscus broken, the bone has a bump and the cartilage is also injured.
What does that mean?
Surgery. Then about six months till I can go on snow again. But I will train hard this summer to be even stronger!
Are you thinking to the Olimpic Games and the halfpipe?
I just want to be a good all-round skier and pipe is obviously a part of it. I was skiing pipe in New Zealand but just with my park skis without any edge so I had to struggle. But I had a lot of fun so I’ll try to go on with it.
How can we keep on the smile whatever happens?
Just do what you really love, and good things will happen. At least, I think.
He is always smiling and in a good mood all the time. Even if something goes wrong, like now.
You are a brand new member of the The North Face team, can you introduce yourself?
Of course! My name is Markus Eder, I come from Luttago, in South Tyrol, a small village in the Aurina valley, near Brunico. I am 20 years old and I have been skiing since the age of 3. I raced till I was 14, and then I decided to start with freeskiing. And from this season freeskiing has become my job.
I met you roughly five years ago, during the “Italian Open” at Kronplatz. At that time Kronplatz did not even have a snowpark, they built it specially for that event and then demolished it immediately afterwards. It seems like a thousand years ago. You hurt yourself on that occasion, collar bone if I remember correctly. Since you were under age the rules imposed that you could not even go on the big kicker, you could only use the smaller one. But you were already pulling 540 truckdrivers…
I was also pulling switch 7’s!
Yeah right, even switch 7’s, forgive my loss of memory…
I noticed you that day, I noticed this young inexpert kid who seemed to know exactly what he wanted. What have you done during all these years, Markus Eder?
I remember perfectly! You were the photographer at that competition, then there was Raffa Cusini, the guys from team Vitamin-F, Alessandro Bianchetti as well as Marco Eydallin. All the best guys on tour in Italy were there. I remember that on the day only Eyda and I had jumped switch. So cool, an amazing sensation. It was the first time that I competed on the Italian scene and everyone talked about Eyda being the best those days. The best freeskier in Italy. I could not believe it, that day both of us were doing the same tricks. He would do one, and then I would follow straight away, trying to do better. We went on all day long. It was such a cool feeling. It’s a pity though that they had to take me away on a snow mobile due to my shoulder injury.
Then what happened?
Five years ago, during the “Italian Open”, I had no business back-up. In a few words I had no sponsors. The following season I met Franz Perini and he helped me find the first contacts with firms, he helped me get my first gear. Franz made it happen that all companies with which he collaborated started supporting me. I am talking about O’Neill, Palmer skis and Smith. Last year I also started with Volkl skis, and from this year The North Face and Red Bull, and things have changed.
The first comps I took part in outside my valley, away from the context of Plan de Corones, were the Tiguan Pro Jump Tour. It was a national circuit, one of the few chances at the time to compete with the best freeskiers. In Val Gardena I came third. I was super psyched. From that day on I realized that probably freeskiing could become my life. Something clicked, I don’t know exactly what. I cannot say that after one contest I saw the light, but it was coming in third that made me understand a few things. It is as if all of a sudden a mechanism in my head sprang into action. Maybe I started seeing things from a different point of view. I started to believe in what I was doing.
Up until a short while ago you split your time between work and your passion for skiing, just like an amateur? How did that work?
When I finished school, roughly three years ago, I started working straight away. I used to work through the whole low season period. Then from January I would concentrate totally on skiing, till roughly mid-April, when the winter season ended. Each year, thanks to my training and my results, I managed to always organize myself better. Gradually, the need to work became less and less and consequently the period I spent working shortened. At the start I worked 8-9 months a year, then it became roughly five months. Then last year a few things started to happen. A few surprises, even for me. I won the Nine Knight 2010 and other stuff. Finally I was getting considerable satisfaction. I am now a professional. I travel all year round, visit mountains, take part in contests, I concentrate on filming with Aestivation, I shoot, always enjoying myself. This is the life I was looking for.
Is it difficult to keep up this pace, organize your time? How do you manage?
When I was still at school, I skied every free minute. I loved it, it was the only thing I wanted to do. Now that it has become my job, I can ski all the time. The down side is that if you ski all the time, it can become boring, trivial and I do not want it to ever become trivial. That is why I try to keep 2-3 days a week free with no skiing. I need to switch off, to keep myself motivated, otherwise it becomes too much. On my 2-3 days off I sit in front of the computer, just like everybody sits at their office desk. I give interviews, I prepare reports for sponsors, I do PR and plan my next moves. I organize my trips, plan my training and my contests. I plan. All this is very important in the life of a rider, even if it is a pity that sometimes what you do on a computer is more important than your riding level and your training. I often meet riders who are really good at PR, they have super sponsors but at the end of the day they don’t really ski that much.
I love skiing above all. And I think it is a great waste to stay away from the snow to be stuck in front of a computer. It is stupid to worry more about office work than training and athletic feats. But that is how things work, it is only a matter of not being taken over by this mechanism. I really like doing what I call “bureaucratic duties”, the only problem is that too much time is spent in front of the computer. I will get used to it. Or maybe not.
At the RedBull Line-catcher you thrashed the opposition. I thought you were only interested in park.
I still can’t believe it! When I found out I was invited to the Linecatcher I didn’t even want to go. I asked myself “What am I, Markus Eder, going to do in amongst all these top competitors in a freeriding event?” Instead it snowed a lot at the beginning of the season where I live, and so I managed to train a lot in powder, try tricks and gain confidence and sensitivity with a terrain which is different from what I am used to. I mainly ski park, on hard packed snow. When I got to Vars the snow was very difficult to ski on, during the qualifying rounds everyone made loads of mistakes. By making fewer mistakes compared to the others, I managed to qualify.
It was really weird on the day of the final, I felt good and I managed to pull off everything, even 540’s. Yes! Landing switch on crusty snow! I had a good feeling with the line which I had never felt before, I did not have to think of anything to pull off tricks. I was calm, an amazing feeling. When I got to the bottom and I realized I had done well, I went crazy. And if you think that I did better than riders such as Tim Durtchi and Sage Cattabriga who are to me the maximum reference point in backcountry-freeride…well, I still cannot believe it! Now that I travel around and I am more aware of things, what I find strange is how in Europe we have the Alps, the most beautiful mountains in the world, and we struggle to form versatile riders like the American or Canadian riders present at the Linecatcher.
What is skiing for you? Work or passion?
It is not a job. The work part is bureaucratic, the hours spent in front of the computer. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy that part, but every now and then the computer part of things becomes too much. I am an athlete. When I ski there is nothing else but my passion. My passion and me. Nothing else. Skiing for me is everything. It is not a job.
You are always smiling…
I don’t think so….(he smiles). When I go skiing or when I compete I do not think of making the final, let alone of winning. I don’t worry about that stuff, I do not have expectations. I ski full stop. In this way if I fall or if I suck nothing changes. If instead I win or get a good result so much the better. If you don’t have expectations the satisfaction is doubled.
This year your contest results seem to be always going well …
Yes (he smiles again). Maybe that is why you see me smiling so much (he now laughs). Seriously though, skiing makes me happy. And that is why I am always in a good mood. I think that working, living in an environment where first of all there is passion, can bring happiness, always, in every sector.
Do you feel you could recommend something to the younger skiers? Even if you are only 20 years old…
I speak to loads of kids and I tell them the same things I am telling you. If you compete without expectations, if you only concentrate on doing well and having fun, you will always give your best, and that way you are always happy. That is how you achieve. This is what I have always and only said to kids. Even to Schefer and Bacher (two very good skiers who are Markus’s friends and who often ski with him and live in the same area) I tell them the same things. It seems to work. Technically speaking…if you enjoy skiing and you are happy about it, train. Learn tricks, go for it. Try new things. You have to simply love the sport, what you do. Be happy and the rest, if you deserve it, comes on its own.
What do you want to do when you are older?
I want to be a skier! (He laughs).
I don’t know, I’ve never asked myself (this question), I am only 20. I would like to stay in this sector. Continue working in this sport, because I enjoy it. Maybe become a team manager, or a film maker. Or a photographer, like you.
But probably a film maker! I could make films, I really like that. Even now as an athlete, the filming part of it really interests me. I often edit mini-clips for my blog. That’s fun. I need to seriously think about my future, when the time comes.
If you weren’t a skier now…what would you be?
A snowboarder hahahahaha …(he laughs again)
I don’t know, I probably would be an electrician. After high school when it was time to decide what to do (Markus was 13 years old), I chose to go to a school to learn to become an electrician because the week-ends were longer. No school on Saturdays, that way I could go skiing every Sunday during winter as well as on Saturdays. (He laughs). If I think about it, even if it seems normal now, I didn’t really think about it much. My choice was unusual. But I like being an electrician even if I don’t have to do it anymore.
Before your injury what were your future plans?
To continue doing what I have done up to now, but a lot better! Continue filming with Aestivation as long as there is snow. Participate in the Jon Olsson Invitational (he has just qualified for it). Go to Mt. Hood this summer, then to New Zealand to follow the NZ Open and to train. If everything goes according to plan I think I will spend a month and a half in Kiwi land. Then next season more powder. Yes, definitely more powder.
Athletes: The North Face® Marcus Eder
Photographer: The North Face® Alessandro Belluscio