Justin Dorey: Pirating the Pipe

By Liam Downey

Once in a while, a skier comes around with a style so perfected he has the potential to revolutionize the sport. In pipe skiing, Candide Thovex, David Crichton, Simon Dumont, and Tanner Hall have connoted progression for the better part of a decade. As we move forward, however, which style-monger will spearhead the new guard of pipe skiing?

As far as I’d dare to wager, this skier will be recognized soon enough as Justin Dorey, a kid with enough flow and trickery to fill the role. Bold statement? Let’s look at how this guy can loft down-the-pipe switch tens and forward 1260s both ways. Don’t forget how his double flip is arguably the best among anybody stepping to the table. On top of his broad arsenal of tech manuevers, Dorey has the best style of any pipe jock I’ve ever seen: when he grabs tail he always grabs right on the end, and he can do both alley-oop flatspins so fluidly it is impossible to tell which direction he naturally spins.

But who the heck is this skier called “J-Bone”? From what I’ve known of the Canadian from Vernon, British Columbia, he seems quite reserved. He rolls with a crew of rowdy countrymen which, by comparison, further his benign appearance. When razzed, however, he’s quick to laugh and fire back a quip. Last spring and summer, Dorey and his friends Josh Bibby and Joe Schuster terrorized the Whistler Village scene, cavorting each night with skull-and-crossbones earrings after they’d spent all day shralping glacier. As Dorey arrives here at the Toyota Championship in a first-place tie with Tanner Hall for the overall Freeski Superpipe Winter Dew Cup, however, we will certainly be seeing more of his serious side.

I sent Dorey the following interview questions via Facebook, and within a few hours he returned the volley. Here’s what the baddest pipe skier in the game had to say about his blossoming career.

What is it like hanging out with all your crazy Canadian friends (Bibby, Margetts, Cosco, Cheesebelly etc.)? How have those kids, along with your coach Trennon Paynter, helped you to progress over the years?

I love my friends…I am an only-child and I have known those kids for a long time, so they are like family to me…like brothers. Our crew usually consists of me, Munch, Rie-bo, Margetts, Ty, Cheesebelly, Cosco, Bibby, TJ, Fergie, Ham Mayor, Sharpie and sometimes, if he’s around, REEDO. It’s pimp, we have a lot of fun. I grew up skiing with most of those guys, and if it weren’t for them I probably wouldn’t be writing this today. I also need to give shout-outs to my Coach Trennon Paynter and the rest of my “team”: Riddle, Hayward, Sarah, and Rosalind. I have been skiing and traveling with those guys for the past two years and have learned a lot from them. Trennon is one of the best halfpipe coaches–if not the best–on the planet, and I’m lucky to be able to work with someone like him.

What possessed you and Bibby to get matching pirate earrings last spring?

I’m not sure if Bibby and I have ever had matching earrings but both of us, along with the rest of the crew, decided to all pierce our ears at WSI last year for no reason. I just showed up and they’re like “here’s a sewing needle, now pierce your ear… it will be funny.” so I did.

In my mind, you’ve established yourself as one of the best two or three pipe skiers in the world. What did it take for you to start dominating the pipe scene these past two seasons?

Well, I never really enjoyed pipe until three seasons ago when I realized that pipe can actually be really fun if you’re not going like 30-feet-out and risking your life on every hit. I noticed that nobody was really pushing it as hard as it could have been pushed [in a technical sense] back then and I saw an opportunity. That season I learned so many tricks and progressed my skiing a ton. However, I couldn’t hold it together at any of the contests, so that was my goal for the following season: to be consistent and land runs. The following season I joined Trennon and his crew in hopes that he could help me figure out how to compete, and he did. I ended up placing top-five in almost every contest last season which was my goal, so I was pumped. This past August I went to New Zealand for three weeks and learned a ton of new stuff. I think the NZ trip has had a lot to do with my skiing this season.

Do you feel the made-for-TV drama of “Tanner vs. Simon” has made it more difficult for you to win some of the big events?

I don’t think that the “Tanner vs. Simon” drama has as much of an impact on judging at these events as it does the media. They definitely make a TV show out of it though, and tend to forget about everyone else in the contest. It does get a little annoying sometimes when you go to watch coverage of the contest you just did and they missed your highest scoring run because they were running some lifestyle shots of those guys–see the Winter X-Games. It’s not [Tanner and Simon’s] fault though; they have been killing for a long time and have totally earned the fame. But I think over the next few years we will start to see less of the “drama” and more legit coverage of events. At least I hope we will.

I like your runs because they favor style, grabs, and technicality over amplitude and big spins. How important is spinning both ways and grabbing true-tail?

Thanks man, that means a lot coming from someone who knows a thing or two about style. Grabbing true-tail is just, plain and simple, the right thing to do, especially leading tail. I am down with trailing tindys if they are all Mickeal’ed-out but it’s tough to beat a solid true-tail grab; they just look and feel better. Spinning both ways is definitely very important to me. If I could get enough hits in every pipe contest, I would try and “mirror” every run I did. “Mirror” meaning each trick you do on the left wall you do on the right, too, basically doing every trick you do both ways. I also think trick combos are very important. Landing switch in the middle of a run (as opposed to the end of a run) is way harder because you have to keep your speed up. It should be scored higher. In my mind, technicality should not only be based on which tricks you do in a run, but also on the order you do them in.

Are we going to be seeing more film segments out of you now that you’ve established yourself? I know that you’ve got some nasty slopestyle tricks. When are you going to start competing in slope events?

Right now I am so into halfpipe skiing I don’t have much time to dedicate to filming and [to competing in] slopestyle contests. I am, however, going to be on Team Canada with TJ for the “Jon Olsson Super Sessions” competitions, which will be a good chance for me to get my slope game back and hopefully learn some new tricks. I think I’ll also be shooting with Level 1 this spring at all the park shoots. I’ll try to put together a little segment. But besides that, my plan is to stick to pipe for the next few years, then see where my head’s at and take it from there.

What are your thoughts coming into the Freeski Superpipe Final at the last stop of this year’s Winter Dew Tour?

It’s the calm before the storm.