“I find that my brain just shuts off; it’s on autopilot. That’s a feeling that you’re always trying to get in competition, because that’s where you perform the best,” says moguls skier Troy Murphy. But he’s not talking about skiing moguls.
Murphy’s latest edit, filmed by Jannick Fjeldsoe in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, features an enticing stylistic crossover that speaks to the sport’s progression.
Murphy's impeccable technique tracing pristine spines opens up to effortless aerials and almost street-style wall slides.
This creativity is the result of a versatile approach to skiing, which has included not only moguls, but superpipe, slopestyle and big mountain over the years.
It was actually motocross that set Murphy on his current trajectory, when a local competitive ski coach suggested that he try freestyle skiing after seeing him ride at the track. In 2015, Murphy was the U.S. National Moguls Champion.
“I like doing everything,” the 24-year-old says. “I don’t get into the park [much] now, but even a couple of years ago, I’d still go whenever I could. I think that it builds a good air awareness and if you’re hitting big park jumps, moguls jumps don’t really seem that scary.”
Whether he’s dropping into a couloir or a moguls course, Murphy says that the headspace is the same: “ultra-focused.”
“They both have their moments [when you feel super nervous],” he laughs.
“And they both have those moments when you’re in the zone and everything’s working. It’s actually sometimes easier for me to get into the zone in Alaska because you [start by] hiking something really steep and exposed.
"It's cool to have that sensation in [the backcountry]. I think that it helps with competition, too. Once you’re in that [headspace], you can get back to it a lot more quickly.
“When you’re skiing [big mountain], there are also a lot of variables that you never, ever deal with [on courses] and it’s really good to build mental toughness.”
The skiers he most admires, like Sammy Carlson, are taking what's happening in the parks to the backcountry and making everything just a little bit more interesting. He's always been interested in pursuing freeriding, in some form or another, after he's done skiing bumps – at some non-impending point in the future.
“I really like doing it and it keeps me super passionate about skiing,” he says. “Right now, it’s really valuable for me to decompress from mogul skiing … I would be interested in filming some more big mountain stuff after that, for sure.”
Presently, Murphy’s focus is on qualifying for this year’s World Cup team and World Championships. But really, this year is all about next year — Next year is the Olympics.
“That’s when everything gets really crazy,” he says.
Is there such a thing as an “average day” for an Olympic hopeful? Not really, Murphy says.
Especially given that his lifestyle changes drastically with the seasons, but right now, he’s waking up around 7 a.m. to hit the water ramps for two hours. Then it’s grueling strength, aerobic, or power endurance training at the gym (depending on the day), a trampoline session, physical therapy and pilates.
Murphy suffered a bulging disk at the end of last season.
“I’m working on getting my back [to] 100 percent,” he says. “[I think I’m at the point where I just need to make sure that I’m staying on top of it and it’ll be alright.] Pilates also work on the back and keep your core strong and stable.”
It’s a little known fact that a successful career in professional skiing involves a lot of time spent on the computer; a lot of emails sent.
When Murphy heads home from the gym at 3 p.m., that’s what he digs into — along with work for his online classes at the University of Utah.
His hobbies, like his skiing, are multifaceted. “Lately, I’ve been super into mountain biking and skateboarding in the summertime,” he says. “And camping, and just going out and exploring as much as possible.”
“This summer, I actually got my dad’s old film camera from like the ’70s and I’ve been trying to learn how to take photos with that, which has been cool. I fee like you’re a lot more present when you’re taking [film] photos because you’re taking one instead of 20, and you’re doing all of the work beforehand, so you don’t really have to do any editing afterward.”
Of course, extensive travel also comes with the territory when you’re a world-class athlete.
“I don’t think that there’s a single month that we’re not on-snow somewhere,” Murphy says.
“We’re always chasing it,” he continues. “I’m going to Australia next week, the beginning of this month, we were in British Columbia, and we’ll go to Switzerland and France before the season starts.”
His favorite place to ski? Alaska, without question, he says. There’s just nowhere else like it.
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