Behind Real Ski with Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester may have ditched the contest scene to work on his own video project this season, but he wasn't ready to give up his competitive side completely. When X Games came knocking with a spot in Real Ski Backcountry, Wester answered accordingly, putting down a heavy-hitting edit sure to turn some heads. Back at home in his native Sweden, Wester took a couple of minutes to give us an inside look at what he's cooking for his X Games Real Ski debut.
ESPN: You're a Real Ski rookie. What does it mean to be a part of this competition?
Jacob Wester: It means everything. I'm honored to be a part of this. Coming from the contest scene, I'm so used to competing and then switching over to film for 99 percent of the year. I kind of miss that competition thing a little bit. This is an opportunity to compete in video. It's not really conventional, and it sounded like a great opportunity to show a bigger audience what we do.
How do you feel about your edit?
I think it went pretty well considering a few late-season troubles. I was trying to film all of Real Ski in April, but I messed up my knee filming in March, so I had to take off pretty much all of April. I'd already published all of my footage for the year in my original series, so I was kind of stressing on how to still find good snow and build jumps and stuff, but I filmed in May when I was finally healthy. We ended up going to this spot in Northern Sweden, called Riksgränsen, and we had dry powder in May! We hit some really good snow, perfect conditions, so for that period of time, I'm super stoked with what we got.
You've been a staple on the competition scene for years now. What was it like to step away this season?
It was pretty awesome. I was really burned out with competing over the past three years. I was always complaining about stuff. That's how I kind of broke into the scene and then I did that for 10 more years. Every year it's the same thing: You do your invites, your Dew Tour, your X Games, and then you're out. Then came the Olympics, and if it had been 2006, I would have been on it, but I wasn't 17 anymore, and I didn't feel like risking my life three hours a week. It kind of took the fun out of it. So I felt really relieved when I was out doing my own thing this year.
Were there any downsides to giving up competitions?
When you don't really have anything going on for two weeks, it's a little strange. It's kind of expensive to just go somewhere and ski powder for a week. When I was competing, I always had a place to go. But it gave me a little more time at home, which was fun. It's mostly on the plus side though, for sure.
What type of skiing did you focus on for your edit?
I went into it knowing that Real Ski is a big backcountry jump contest. You need to get a certain amount of tricks on film. I knew we were going to build a lot of jumps, but wanted to get a little creative with it. The terrain up in Riksgränsen was cool -- lots of big cornices, ice cliffs, and mini-golf lines. I skied a pretty cool line that is in the edit, and overall it all came together well.
In the offseason, you spend a lot of time surfing. How does that factor into your ski career?
Surfing is a total departure from skiing, just a way to clear your mind. I really like progressing in everything I do, so when skiers are at a certain level, it's harder to do that. In surfing I'm so far behind, so every time I surf I learn something new about the water, about the waves, the dynamics. That's why I'm skiing backcountry now, because I'm learning more that way, learning about the snow and the weather. But yeah, surfing gets me psyched to go skiing.
What do you think about your competition? Is there anyone you have your eye on as a potential top dog?
I try hard to not really look. I miss the days when you would totally tune out, not know what to expect, and then be totally surprised when the movie came out. Nowadays you get an Instagram photo right after someone skis a line and it takes a lot out of ski movies. I'm more hyped on being a part of this and watching all the edits than actually winning I think.
Real Ski class of 2014
Now back for its second season, X Games Real Ski Backcountry brings together seven of the biggest names in freeskiing to compete in an online backcountry video contest. The fan vote starts Aug. 27 and the winners will be announced on ABC's "World Of X Games" TV show on Sept. 14. Here are the seven athletes competing in this year's contest.