By Colin Bane – After taking second place behind Andreas Haveit at Breck for the Totino's Open, Utah local Tom Wallisch threw down close to home at Snowbasin For Wendy’s Invitational - pretzel, left 900, switch right 1080, switch double cork 1080, bang, bang, bang - swapping spots with Haveit atop the podium. That sends the two freeskiers careening neck and neck into Mount Snow for the Toyota Championships in the race for the Dew Cup. We caught up with "Walnuts" Wallisch on his way back to Breckenridge to sneak in some last-minute training runs.
You and Andreas are leading the pack coming into the final stop. What's on your mind as this thing wraps up?
It's been going really well this season: Good courses, good weather, and I've been doing okay... So yeah, I'm stoked. The Dew Tour's just been so great for our sport. I'd like to see them add another stop or two and make it as big as the summer tour.
How much rivalry is there between the top guys in the sport? This is your big chance to talk some smack.
Our sport's super competitive, but everyone's also super stoked when their friends do well. It's definitely anyone's game. Andreas and I, we aren't rivals by any means, but it's going to be an exciting lineup for the last stop, and I'm going to try my best. Who wouldn't want to come out on top? Andreas, you're welcome to that second place spot.
Who knows: Some kid could come in out of nowhere at Mount Snow, thanks to the new Gatorade Free Flow Tour amateur series, and show you guys up.
I almost hope it does happen. I'm so psyched to have that element there: There's not a ton of open contests in freeskiing and it's been really challenging for kids to break in. A lot of stuff is invite-only now, and it gets harder and harder for kids to participate and get involved. Having an amateur tour like that and a way for kids to get in and work their way into the bigger contests... it's something skiing's been needing.
Tom Wallisch believes he can fly
How do you approach a big competition like the Toyota Championships, especially when you're coming in on top and there's pressure to stay there?
I've been skiing at Keystone, Breckenridge, and Park City, just trying to dial in all my stuff. I'd like to start bringing more than one double cork into a run, bring out a lot of high spins. If the course will allow it, I'd like to start going bigger and bigger. My approach, really, is just to do what I love and keep pushing myself as far as I can. It's not even about the competition so much as just skiing and loving life, living it to the fullest.
When you think about how far it's all come, even in just the last two years the Dew Tour's been on the scene, what do you make of the level of progression in the sport? I mean, who could have predicted we'd be seeing switch double cork 1080s in competition?
It's just exploded within skiing and now there's so many kids out there learning these tricks. Everyone's doing different grabs, different rotations and crazy different flips. It's been great for the progression of the sport, and it makes it possible to spin a higher rotation and make 1260s and 1440s look better. Corking twice just makes it a more natural rotation and it comes out looking cleaner than a straight spin. It's definitely getting wild, and it's tough to keep up. I think the thing to take away from it is that almost anything is possible. Who can predict anything in freeskiing?
Tom Wallisch doing what he does best
I know you've been busy with the competition schedule this season. What else is happening?
The competitions are definitely a huge part of my year with all three of the Dew Tour stops, X Games, European X Games... it's pretty busy. But the rest of my year I spend filming on handrails, out in the backcountry, and in the parks. It's a really special thing to me and I really like that aspect of the sport. Just going out with your friends and trying new things, to capture these fun skiing moments and share them with people. When you can put together a great video recap of everything you've gotten in a season to show to your friends and your fans and your fellow skiers, it's as rewarding as coming in first at a contest.
What drives to keep pushing the limit?
It's always exciting to be working on something new, and there's nothing that can beat the adrenaline rush that comes from finally landing a trick you've been thinking about and wanting to learn. Just the whole search for new tricks and progression makes it so much fun. You want to have the best stuff for the contests, and for the video parts, and then it's also exciting to watch what everyone else is coming up with. What I love most about freeskiing is that it's about pushing yourself, pushing each other, and working together to push the sport forward. When you know you're giving it everything you've got and so is everyone else, winning is just the cherry on top of it all.