Growing up with Bishop, California, as his stomping grounds, pro skier Chris Benchetler was destined to take his first turns at Mammoth Mountain, the resort a mere 40 minutes away. Those initial years tearing up the slopes of the Eastern Sierra got Benchetler hooked, and he began skiing every weekend, joined the race team, and got into traveling while still going to school. His high school years introduced him to the freeride scene, where he met fellow skier Pep Fujas, who helped him score his first sponsor, K2. It was a whirlwind from then on.
Photo courtesy ChrisBenchetler.com
Chris got involved in the contest scene as most pro riders will; however, once he began filming with Poorboyz Productions, his heart was set on riding deep powder and big mountains and transforming this into his career. Now at 26, he continues to film with Poorboyz, has multiple pro models with Atomic Skis, and was named one of Skiing Magazine’s 2010 Skiers of the Year. He remains close to his roots and lives in Mammoth Lakes with his wife, Kimmy Fasani, a top pro rider in women’s snowboarding. We got a hold of the powder hound and picked his brain a bit. Here’s what he had to say.
What is one of your favorite trips and why? (ski trip or not…doesn’t matter)
Ski trip would have to be Japan. The culture, the people, the food, and the powder are unlike anything you experience as a Westerner. Non-ski would be Nicaragua. Warm water, surf eight hours a day, cheap living, and offshore winds 300 days a year.
Do you have any bad habits that we should know about?
I actually don’t think I do. I’m so in love with keeping myself outside and active, I don’t really have time to acquire any bad habits.
What is one of your earliest memories skiing?
Tumbling down Monument (a run off the top of Mammoth) in a red one-piece, crying, and my dad making me go back up to ski it again.
Photo courtesy of ChrisBenchetler.com
How did you propose to your pro rider wife, Kimmy Fasani?
She had been rehabbing a slight knee injury, so I convinced her to go on a mellow hike that we usually do all the time, but this time with a pack, food, etc. That way I was able to have a backpack without being conspicuous. I also told her we should bring our beacons so I could practice before I went to Chile, saying I felt a little rusty. Then, once we got to Skeleton Lake (in Mammoth), I made her hike up the hill while I set up an avalanche scenario so we could practice. Once I was alone I set up a dozen roses (that I snuck in the pack) in the shape of a heart, avalanche beacon in the middle, ring on top, right on the beach. Her search led her right to it, and the rest is history.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It’s a toss up between sushi and Thai curry.
Best and worst part about your life as a pro skier?
The best part is definitely the active and healthy life it has given me and allows me to continue to live. Worst part would be the mental and physical challenges of dealing with injuries.
What is one of your go-to tricks or your favorite trick to stomp?
Favorite tick to stomp is natural butter spins off cliffs, anywhere from 5s to 9s…
What are three of your top movies of all time?
“Avatar,” “Gladiator,” and “Anchorman.”
If you could spray any fellow rider in the face…who would it be?
Anyone in the Nimbus crew.
Any words you live by?
Stay active. Live healthy. Ride hard.