Sammy's Invitational returns

This weekend, the second Sammy Carlson Invitational will take place at Mount Bachelor, Ore. It's less of a contest than a late-season gathering and a chance for some of freeskiing's top pros to session a park together in a less competitive atmosphere. This is the first year that Carlson will be competing in his own event, which takes place Saturday. We spoke to Carlson about winning the inaugural X Games Real Ski Backcountry's judges' choice award in March and his plans for this weekend's contest.

How will this year's Sammy Carlson Invitational be different from last year?
It will be similar to last year's format. The whole idea of the event is to bring everyone together at the end of the season. We try to eliminate all the pressure you normally feel at a contest. It's cool to bring out all of my favorite skiers and good buddies to Oregon for good skiing and a great time.

What athletes will we be seeing there this weekend?
It's a pretty stacked field. The Inspired Media crew should be out again, the defending champ, Torin Yater-Wallace, plus Clayton Vila, Mike Hornbeck, Alex Schlopy, Joss Christensen, John Spriggs, and a ton more. Be sure to check it out.

Will you be competing?
Yeah, I had to sit out last year due to injury but this year I am stoked to be healthy again and able to session with everyone else. It's an awesome event that I'm really excited for. It's going to go off.

Congratulations on winning Real Ski Backcountry. How did that win feel compared to an X Games gold medal won in slopestyle?
Thanks. I was super stoked. It was really cool to have total creative freedom and put something of my own together for X Games rather than just being stuck with a standard slope course. It was cool too because it felt like a lot of hard work and long days paying off, compared to a good result in a slope event only really reflecting how you skied on that day. That and the fact that I was just coming back from two major injuries made the win really special.

When creating that film piece, did it feel like a competition?
Not really, and it's nothing like a normal slope comp. With that, you're stuck with whatever jumps and rail features the course builders shape. On this project we had total creative control and I could ride whatever terrain I wanted. ESPN pretty much just told us that they wanted to see creative backcountry riding. Other than that, they left it completely open. My favorite part about backcountry riding is that the terrain out there is always different and the possibilities are endless. The more I explore the more comfortable I feel out there, and I think it allowed me to put together a really unique segment.

With the Olympics just around the corner, how much of your summer will be focused on preparation for the Games?
A lot of my time leading up to the Olympics will be spent training on and off the hill. I'm going to be skiing a ton, working on new tricks and trying to dial in those I already have even more. On top of that, I'll be training at the Nike campus a lot and getting strong to prevent injuries.

What does your schedule look like this summer?
I've got the invitational at the end of the month and after that, I planned a surf trip in June that I'm really looking forward to, and I'm skiing in Whistler for most of July . Then I'll take some time off and get back on snow in August at Mount Hood. It's a pretty hectic schedule, busy but it's always fun.

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