Paddy Graham popped over to see us the other day on his way through to Zurich, and after a good days skiing and one of the longest apres sessions we’ve ever had (4pm-3 in the morning) we sat down for five minutes to catch up and chew the fat before he ran out and left us to our hangovers…
So Mr Graham, what’s been going on this season?
This year I started off the season in Breckenridge, Colorado, where unfortunately I managed to compress my spine during training, which kind of put me out for a bit. But I got back into the swing of things about two weeks ago, and have been filming with Aestivation again, and have also started filming for a new project with me and my friends, Toby Reindl, Thomas Hlawitschka, and Bene Mayr. We’re all living together in Innsbruck and putting out our own passion project, Legs Of Steel. The idea is to put out a short film in June and also use any extra footage for all our movie segments in whatever other projects we are doing individually.
Tell us about your sponsor hook ups this year, you just joined a new outerwear brand…
Yeah I just started working with Animal. They’ve always been really helpful in the past, and last year I was without a proper outerwear sponsor, so it seemed like a good time to approach them. They work a lot with the Brits and the British Snow Tour which I work on so it kind of made sense, plus it’s cool to be involved with a British company. I’m also riding for Nike 6.0 shoes, Volkl skis, Leki poles, Troyan gloves, Dalbello boots, Smith Optics, Marker bindings, Baw Bags, and I would like to give a shout out to Dalik Fodda and Red Bull.
So how is it living with non-Brits this year?
Yeah it’s cool, the guys take it all quite seriously and have a professional attitude, there’s no drinking during the week (well almost) and they are really motivated. It’s also great living in Innsbruck instead of a resort, for a start there are a lot of people from the scene living there, so it keeps you in touch with what everyone is up to. Then the fact that you don’t get sucked into resort life is also a bonus, as I said before there is a lot less drinking! But really living with these guys just helps my skiing generally, they are all really good and push me to better my skiing. Last season I travelled a lot to competitions and then would return to resort without riding consistently with anyone, this year we go to events together and train together so I would say I’m more motivated, and it’s generally more fun – all I need to do now is take some German lessons, because to be honest I don’t understand a word!
You seem to have been getting into the Backcountry more this year from what we can gather, how are you finding it?
I’m really enjoying the backcountry this year, my mountain awareness/sense, whatever you want to call it is definitely increasing. My confidence is growing, and we’ve been building lots of kickers and hucking cliffs which is lot of fun. To be honest though, I would like to spend a little more time in the park, it is a bit easier. I mean when you go out shooting in the backcountry you get there, eye up a feature or build a jump and then you just have to throw down straight away. In the park you can take a couple of warm up runs and ease into it, but on a backcountry kicker you’ve only got a limited number of hits and that’s it, so it’s all or nothing from the beginning, plus you have no idea of speed, or how the jump/cliff will throw you so you have to rely on experience a lot more.
Sounds tricky, do you find the equipment makes it harder as well?
You’re on skis that are a lot longer and wider, and therefore heavier as well, so yeah sure it is more difficult throwing them around. I use the Chopsticks a lot and it’s a fully rockered ski, so even on the run in they feel a lot different, of course because of their width they aren’t as quick edge to edge, so it’s harder to make minor adjustments as you’re coming in. To be honest though, having said all that, I have been riding them for so long now that I have kind of got used to them, but certainly to begin with it was a bit of a difference. The landing too is a bit different, you have to be a bit more precise, you can’t for example revert or skid out at all, you have to put the trick down as clean as you can in order not to get caught up in the deep snow.
So speaking of freestyle, have you got any comps coming up, or is it going to be backcountry and filming for the rest of the season?
Yeah, I’m scheduled to head to the Austrian Open in Kitzsteinhorn, then hopefully the European Open, and of course the Brits, and then the Grom Games in Manchester and from there straight back to Germany for the 9 Knights invitational.
Speaking of the Grom Games and the Brits, are there any Brits you’ve been riding with this year who have impressed you?
Yeah, there’s a good crew up in Mayrhoffen. Joe Tomlinson, the Matthews brother, Joe Murrell, and Dave Stead, and they are all skiing really well. It’s good to see them leave the UK and push themselves out into Europe, go to the comps and get their name out there, and those boys are definitely doing that. I think it is harder to get noticed internationally and especially in the States if you have not built up something of a name in Europe, unless you can just rock up and win a major comp of course… Also the parks over here are catching up with the American parks.
What’s the best park you’ve seen this year?
The best park I’ve seen was in Livigno, Italy, which was surprising as it isn’t the best known resort, but they had a sick setup.
The Montafon region was great and we got some good stuff done there.
Volkl 10 years of freeskiing at ISPO, from what I can remember…
Anything else you want to add?
Ask me something controversial.
Hmmm… Who do you hate the most in freeskiing?
Errrr… on second thoughts maybe we should wrap this up.
Text: Jamie Cameron
All Photos: Pally Learmond