The champ: Josh Daiek
This weekend, Josh Daiek won not only the Kirkwood stop of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, but also the McConkey Cup given to the top overall skier on the tour. Daiek, born and raised in Rochester Hills, Mich., came to skiing a little later than some on the FWT. Now 28 years old, he's lived in Kirkwood, Calif., for the past 10 years. We sat down to talk with this year's tour champion about backyard backflips in Michigan and why Glen Plake is the man.
What's your skiing background?
I fell in love with skiing in high school and it was mostly just park with my friend Evan. We learned backflips in my front yard, basically just towing behind my truck. We'd have to farm all three inches of snow in the yard to make a jump and landing.
So when did you start on the tour? When you moved out to Kirkwood?
No, you know, my first couple of years I was just skiing 'cause I'm from Michigan and I was only used to side-slipping down icy little hills. I met Craig Garbiel and Joe Marcus, local Kirkwood shredders. Those guys basically taught me the ropes because I couldn't make a turn to save my life. I remember skiing pow for the first time and thinking 'Man, this is lame. This powder's for the birds, I don't even like it, you can have it.'
Describe your first competition on the tour.
In 2005, Craig Garbiel talked me into doing Snowbird. I made it through the qualifier and then just exploded on the first day. I wanted to go down and just hate-huck a backflip at the bottom of the venue, but my gear was everywhere and it took so long to get it that I just skied off to the side. My second comp was at Kirkwood. I greased a gnarly line and ended up winning that day. All these guys like Guerlain Chicherit and Aurelien Ducroz were like 'Who the f@#k is this kid?'
What's your style of competition?
I want to bring a freestyle element into the comps, which I don't really need to do. It's a constant battle, I'm always like 'Should I do this? It's risky but...' I just want to do it because that's what I like doing, that's how I ski. And when I crash, I definitely get down on myself but I crash all the time. That's part of skiing.
What's your plan for the rest of the season and this summer?
I really want to shoot more. It's a lot more relaxed and if you mess up, you can just go again. And sponsors appreciate it a lot more. No one seems to care about the Freeskiing World Tour. It's absurd. I tell people 'I'm first on the Freeskiing World Tour,' and they're like 'What is that? The Freeskiing what?'
Final question. Plake or Schmidt?
Plake, dude. Plake's the man. Land on your feet, save the hip check. He's always just having a good time.