Feature: Freeskier and filmmaker Tom Wallisch on passion across generations

Feature: Freeskier and filmmaker Tom Wallisch on passion across generations

By Hannah Truby

This story was originally featured in the Mountain Gazette Sunday email — our weekly newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter here

Often is the case that one’s love for sport begins, in one way or another, by being handed down. Often it is from parent to kid (an initially-forced-love, in my case).

Snow sport enthusiasts, powder hounds, alpine addicts, and ski bums are all living proof of this current that flows through people, and across generations.

Also possessing the power to pass along this fervor: ski films. Ski films act as a pregame to the upcoming season, helping to rally those of us who might need a bit of a nudge in saying goodbye to the warmer weather. And for many, they’re the thing that made us want to strap in before we ever really strapped in.

For pro freeskier Tom Wallisch, it was Oakley’s “Session 1242” that he often looks back on as the ski film.

“It was really pivotal in our community at the time,” Wallisch tells me. “It blew my mind. It’s definitely one that I think about often as a huge inspiration for me.”

Mountain Gazette spiritual editor J.P. Auclair in Session 1242

“I've found so much love and joy in the filmmaking side of it, it’s something that you can do for years on end, even after you're done. I’ve found a good space where I feel like I can still sell products for my sponsors and motivate kids to get out there and ski and set a good example and have a lot of fun doing it.”

If you’ve followed Wallisch from the beginning, you know he comes with an impressive repertoire of self-edits. While ski edits today can be found every other click, Wallisch made good use of the Internet’s golden era of the self-made vid (He was discovered at 20 years old when he entered and subsequently won the 2007 Level 1 SuperUnknown video contest). 

This month, Wallisch and his Good Company team released their new film “Crescendo”, which features both street and backcountry moments from last season – not a bad one if you’re gonna be making a ski movie. But as we know, with record snow comes a ton of work.

“We were constantly digging ourselves out of snow,” Wallisch recalls. “Being out there, especially with Colby, who’s got the energy of a 25-year-old, helped keep me motivated.”

Among others on the film’s production team was fellow pro skier Colby Stevenson.

After relocating from the East Coast to Park City, Wallisch would often see a 10-year-old Stevenson learning and advancing his skills on the mountain. Now, Wallisch says his friend is one of the sport’s future stars.

“Having come off an Olympic-medal-winning-year, the fact that he wanted to film backcountry segments, something that means so much to me and to the older community of freeskiers, was so cool to see.”

With one inspiring the other, the ski legend and a soon-to-be household-name duo made for “a great back-and-forth” behind the scenes, and is, Wallisch says, a part of the dream. 

“Competition aside, the lifestyle, the friends I've made, the love of snow and the mountains have given me everything I love in my life. So I'm just hoping to inspire more kids to go out there and give it a try and find that love for the lifestyle, as well”, Wallisch says.

Salomon FreeSki TV was my “Session 1242”, and while it started out as my stepdad’s thing, it soon became my thing, and the thing that got me hooked

“It really is multigenerational,” Wallisch tells me. “The parents showing their kids. I meet kids that have one of my products or boots, and almost always it's a dad or a mom there with them. And the reason they ever found my videos is because the parents watched them, and now the kids are into it…

To see that goal in action – of trying to inspire any kid out there to pick up a pair of skis and to try it out – is so awesome to see.”

Crescendo” is now live on Good Company’s YouTube channel.