The Snow Report
In 1992, a 19-year-old Seth Morrison skied fast, fluid, and clean down a technical line at the U.S. National Extremes in Crested Butte, Colorado, to place second in his first contest outside of ski racing. This marked the beginning of a 20-year career that has seen Morrison push the outer edges of skiing and, in doing so, redefine the sport.
At 38, Morrison has survived avalanches, a helicopter crash, and numerous injuries, not to mention the ski industry. He’s won dozens of awards, including the Powder Video Awards’ Readers Poll over seven times, and appeared in over 36 movies, including this year’s Teton Gravity Research flick Dream Factory and last year’s Ordinary Skier, a documentary about his life. With his unkempt jet-black hair, pierced eyebrow, and mind-bending skiing, Morrison has emerged as one of skiing’s most recognizable icons.
Born in the flatlands of Murray, Kentucky, Morrison moved to Colorado in 1984, where he began ski racing first with the Buddy Werner Ski Club and later with Ski Club Vail, where he competed in FIS level events. At age 19, as a freshman at Western State in Gunnison, Colorado, he entered Crested Butte’s U.S. National Extreme competition, placed second on the mountain he’d been skiing nearly every day that season, and extreme skiing’s dark knight was born. Morrison began filming, traveling the globe, and attracting sponsors. Since then, he’s built a career that has outlasted most of his peers. Get past the larger-than-life, rock ‘n' roll image, and you’ll find an insightful, quiet, straight-up guy. Sure, he’s cynical about the media and ski industries, but he also realizes it’s a means to an end.
There’s no B.S. with Morrison, no ego or attitude. No caps lock tweets or gratuitous self-promotion. Talk to Kye Petersen or JP Auclair. Talk to your 35-year-old uncle who had posters of Morrison on his bedroom wall during his ski bum stint in Jackson. Most everyone will agree: Seth Morrison is skiing’s Jedi Master.
From his cabin in the hills above Crested Butte, as he waited for the fourth elk-hunting season to start, Morrison took a few moments to talk about fame, death metal, and the lessons he has learned during a decades-long career in a sport that can wear people down pretty quickly.
What’s the biggest misperception about you?
Everyone I travel with thinks I listen to death metal all the time or punk rock music. “Oh, I pictured you listening to death metal.” I like all different kinds of music.
When did you know that you’d made it as a skier?
I guess after doing well in the Crested Butte Extremes in my first contest basically out of ski racing. And just from that, it was getting the notoriety and doing ski films and being noticed as a skier that wasn’t racing.
How do you feel about your fame?
It’s what’s kept me going in what I’m doing. Without it I probably would have been gone a long time ago. You watch a lot of skiers come and go over 20 years.