Legendary skier Glen Plake says freeskiing losing its roots, Olympics pose threat

Glen Plake
Skier Glen Plake; photo courtesy of Daniel Rönnbäck

Mohawked ski icon Glen Plake has never been at a loss for words. And turning 50 this year, he’s more opinionated than ever. GrindTV caught up with him in Denver at his 25th attendance of the Snow Sports Industries of America tradeshow, the skiing and snowboarding world’s largest gala, where, as well as pimping sponsors Screamers, Leki, Elan, and Dalbello, the hair-raising freerskier let loose on all things skiing.

“I love what I do,” says Plake. “Our industry is totally unique—as opposed to selling vacuum cleaner parts, everyone’s personally attached to what they’re doing. But it’s easy to get lost in our own product world and forget to see what other people are doing.”

Throughout his quarter-decade at the show, he’s seen products come and go, while always remaining true to his inner Plake—which is all about getting back to skiing’s roots. “What used to be hang your socks on the fire and play monopoly has turned into some giant disco party,” he maintains. “I’m not against giant ski areas, but let’s remember what brought them to where they are.”

Glen Plake
Glen Plake says skiing needs to get back to its roots. Can you get any more “roots” than this 1990 Powder magazine cover featuring the famous skier?

For his contribution to the cause, freshly equipped with his Level III PSIA certification, Plake still motorhomes around the country on his Down Home Tour, showing up at small resorts unannounced to ski with kids and other locals. At one point, he even taught the host of “Good Morning America” how to ski.

Further espousing on the state of skiing, he feels that the industry can’t afford to lose the next generation of skiers, skier cross needs to be slowed down and made more technical, everyone should “quit glamorizing powder skiing” and use a guide in the backcountry, and that the Olympics will ruin freeskiing by “homogenizing” it. “They should take away all the educated judges and put a bunch of moms up there and let them decide,” he says.

And skiers should get back to the basics. “There are some traditions that built this sport that have been pushed away,” he says. “If there’s a revolution I’d like to be a part of, it’s bringing technique back.”

As for his mohawk tradition, it’s still flying as high as ever. “This year I’ve worn it more than I have in the past decade,” he says, adding up seven straight mohawk days over the holidays. He even wore it on the plane when he flew straight from the show to Houston for a family gathering. “It’s fun to walk through airports with it,” he says. “For me, it’s as telling as carrying a pair of skis.”

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