For Nicky Keefer, style is substance.
The ski industry is growing increasingly competitive each year. More flipping and spinning off jumps is becoming the pathway to recognition for some.
But for the up-and-coming skier, it’s about how each trick is executed, not simply that it can be done.
“I want to make style a huge factor in skiing. I think discovering new ways to spin and flip should be experimented with, instead of going for as many rotations as possible,” Keefer said.
Keefer, a Park City local is part of the 4bi9 filming crew, which has made such ski films as “Begging for Change,” and “Slamina.” This will be his first year on the professional competition circuit starting with The Dew Tour qualifiers.
“If you do well in qualifiers or open competitions like the Aspen Open, then you have a good chance at getting into the X-Games and other stuff that will get you noticed,” Keefer said.
But Keefer doesn’t just want to get noticed.
“When people start getting into triple flips it starts being more like aerial ski jumping, which are like the jocks of the ski industry,” Keefer said.
According to Jordan Harper, Chief marketing officer of Saga Outerwear, the freestyle ski industry is getting increasingly difficult to be discovered. Skiers have to stand out amongst the crowds of hopefuls.
“Progression has its moments; double flips got a lot of fanfare to say the least. But in progression, there is a slow plateau where style will have to come into play,” Harper said. “Nicky is someone who forces others to work on style and not be complacent. It takes more than just knowing how to double cork, you have to know how to spin different directions and know an assortment of grabs.”
Competitions that receive international coverage have been instrumental in propelling careers such as Shaun White and Tanner Hall. But among the ski and snowboard industry, competitions are not always seen as true measurements of skill.
“The worst part about skiing is the competitions, with some, it tends to be the jocks that forget about finesse. Filming is the best because you can really take into account what someone is trying to show with their hard work,” Keefer said.
Keefer’s first ski coach Mike Campbell watched him progress through the years.
“Nicky is hungry, he never stops and is always looking for ways to push himself,” Campbell said.
“Hard work in demonstrating the ability of skiing in that level of competition and filming is key. There are hundreds of thousands of kids going for the same thing. You have to push hard and make it happen, even when you’re having an off day,” Harper said.
Josh Ruggles. Kristina Blesch contributed to this article. Photo courtesy of: Nicky Keefer.