TJ Schiller Interview
TJ Schiller has lauched himself to stardom in the high-flying, tail-grabbing world of freestyle skiing. Schiller took the gold medal for best trick in Slopestyle Skiing at the 2006 Winter X Games and finished on top of the podium at the 2006 US Freeskiing Open. Simon talks to Schiller about his best tricks, skiing at the X Games and leaving school early.
Simon: So, how did you get started in freestyle skiing.
TJ Schiller: I started skiing when I was a kid and the hill where I skied at (in Vernon, BC) had a freestyle ski club. Me and my friend talked to our coach and said we were really stoked on freestyle, and so we just focused on doing slopestyle courses and big airs.
Simon: When did you turn pro?
TJ Schiller: Like, the day I finished school. I actually got my teachers to let me write all my final exams early, so I could graduate early. Right after I wrote my final exams, I was on a plane to Colorado to compete at the 2004 US Freeskiing event and things kind of took off from there. I won the slopestyle and started making ski videos right after that.
Simon: What was it like to win the gold for best trick at the Winter X Games?
TJ Schiller: It was cool because I didn't think I was going to do that well at the X Games. I was still recovering from some injuries. There was so much snow on the slopestyle course at the X Games that some skiers couldn't get enough speed to slide rails or clear gaps on some of the jumps - so they just turned it into a one-hit, best trick contest. I landed a switch nosegrab 1080 (that's three and a half turns in the air going backwards!)on my first jump and that was it. I was so stoked.
Simon: What do judges look for in superpipe, slopestyle or other freestyle competitions?
TJ Schiller: They look for big air and creativity. In the superpipe, they judge you on amplitude like how high you get out of the pipe, how clean your landings are and just how different your tricks are. You want to have clean runs, with lots of air and something that makes the judges take notice.
Simon: What's the best thing about your so-called "job"?
TJ Schiller: I'm getting paid to ski, man. That's what I do and I'm totally stoked. I get to hit mountains all over the world. I've travelled to New Zealand, Europe, California, all over and it's what I love doing.
Simon: Are there any skiers who were your idol when you were a kid?
TJ Schiller: Yeah, Johnny Mosely and Jon Olsson. I remember watching Mosely busting tricks at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano and I was like, I wanna do that.
Simon: Do you have any tips or advice for kids looking to get into freestyle skiing?
TJ Schiller: Just talk to your coach or someone at the hill where you ski and tell them you want to freestyle. Always check out jumps before you go off them to make sure you're safe and just do it.