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Sponsored: The stories behind the skiers

Updated 4 days ago

Society & Culture
Places & Travel
Sports
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Sponsored is a weekly show hosted by Mike Powell that goes deep into the lives and stories of professional skiers. Each show will include an interview with a different skier, and discuss how they moved up the ranks from amateur to professional, and wherethey are now. Throughout these conversations, we'll find out the obstacles these skiers had to overcome, the experiences that defined their careers, the injuries, and regrets.About Mike Powell: I’ve spent my career in action sports athlete management and worked with the best skiers in the world during a 16 year career at K2 Skis. I’ve also MC’d events around the world for K2, Redbull, and POWDER.

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Sponsored is a weekly show hosted by Mike Powell that goes deep into the lives and stories of professional skiers. Each show will include an interview with a different skier, and discuss how they moved up the ranks from amateur to professional, and wherethey are now. Throughout these conversations, we'll find out the obstacles these skiers had to overcome, the experiences that defined their careers, the injuries, and regrets.About Mike Powell: I’ve spent my career in action sports athlete management and worked with the best skiers in the world during a 16 year career at K2 Skis. I’ve also MC’d events around the world for K2, Redbull, and POWDER.

iTunes Ratings

38 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
1
0
0
1

Awesome

By Jahration - Jun 06 2017
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Please do a season 2...great content, wish I would have found it sooner

Ski

By Dylan Maurice - Mar 01 2017
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Great interview. Glen Plake needs a podcast of his own.

iTunes Ratings

38 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
1
0
0
1

Awesome

By Jahration - Jun 06 2017
Read more
Please do a season 2...great content, wish I would have found it sooner

Ski

By Dylan Maurice - Mar 01 2017
Read more
Great interview. Glen Plake needs a podcast of his own.
Cover image of Sponsored: The stories behind the skiers

Sponsored: The stories behind the skiers

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

Sponsored is a weekly show hosted by Mike Powell that goes deep into the lives and stories of professional skiers. Each show will include an interview with a different skier, and discuss how they moved up the ranks from amateur to professional, and wherethey are now. Throughout these conversations, we'll find out the obstacles these skiers had to overcome, the experiences that defined their careers, the injuries, and regrets.About Mike Powell: I’ve spent my career in action sports athlete management and worked with the best skiers in the world during a 16 year career at K2 Skis. I’ve also MC’d events around the world for K2, Redbull, and POWDER.

Rank #1: Sponsored, Episode 9: Glen Plake, part one

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Glen Plake, the most recognizable skier ever, is still punk. Despite the fame and his perspective on skiing is still humble, interesting, refreshing, and honest. On this episode of Powder Radio's "Sponsored" podcast, the first in a three-part series with Plake, he tells host Mike Powell talks about the influence of the hot-dogging era, and the loss it represented to skiing, when an over-litigious society destroyed it.

"All the innocence and freewheeling spirit of skiing was basically ripped out from it it and basically goes into this stagnant, awful world or interpretation, unfortunately, we're still in," says Plake. "We chipped at the foundation but haven't made a big difference."

Plake also recognizes the influence of that era, especially Bobbie Burns. He thinks nothing happening today is as original.

"I have a hard time thinking that I started anything. I was just another link in the chain," says Plake. "I really don't think anything Tanner did was revolutionary, I don't think anything going on today is revolutionary at all, it's simply an extension of the hot-dogging era."

Show Notes
2:00: South Lake Tahoe: The early days
3:51: The Hot Doggers
5:50: Racing
9:30: Insurance screwed the Hot Doggers
11:30 Ski Hall of Fame
16:50: The future is bumpy
19:00: The image and the Hawk
22:00: Polluting Brad Holmes
30:29: Leg break
33:50: Denied access
38:07: A lot of trouble
39:30: Crashing Blizzard of Aahhhs

Nov 01 2016
42 mins
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Rank #2: Sponsored, Episode 14: Glen Plake, part two

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Glen Plake comes on for part two, recorded just after the 2016 presidential election. Plake discusses the election with host Mike Powell.

"We've had all these baby boomer presidents for years and years. They were born during the highest times of prosperity. Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll and hippies and women's rights and all this social stuff and all their agends have been played out. And yet, The Gen X's were born with divorce and energy crisis and all these kind of leftover shit. Whatever."

The two also discuss his diamond-studded tooth ("It was not a bling tooth, it was a pirate tooth!"), the intracacies of his mohawk, and his grassroots career in the face of a digital world.

"I'm old school, hand in hand, and I love that," says Plake. "I meet so many people that say they are my fans and I tell everybody, I might only have 10 to 15,000 followers, but I tell you what, you call one right now, tell them you have a dead battery, and they'll be on their way."

Photo: Dom Daher

Dec 06 2016
26 mins
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Rank #3: Sponsored, Episode 28: Pep Fujas

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Pep Fujas, one of the most influential skiers of the 21st century, joins host Mike Powell. Known for his seminal segment in Session 1242, his role in Nimbus films, and his successful pro models, Fujas, who grew up in a yurt in Oregon without electricity or a phone, is also the father of two young daughters. The two discuss balancing fatherhood and travel and Fujas' influence on skiing, including the pole-less style he helped lead.

"Sometimes we'd drop the poles and you just get to experience a different way to move on the mountain," says Fujas. "Your hands are free, you can feel free to brush the snow, and since you're not thinking about having the poles in your hand, you can move in a lot of different ways and it starts to refine your movements, starts to quiet everything down, because if you have really erratic hand movements, it just looks terrible, and it's really hard to make skiing look without poles look really good. So I think it was just another way to express yourself on skis and it was really fun and we didn't really care what anybody thought."

1:51: Recap his season travels as a father of two children under 2 years old
4:15: Life has totally changed for Pep in the past three years
6:22: Growing up in Oregon, in a yurt
10:30: How did he get into skiing and what else is going on in life?
14:55: Boarding school, moguls, and competition
17:20: What skiers did Pep look up to?
18:35: How did the sponsors find him?
21:12: Pro models and the money he made
23:22: How did Nimbus come together and what did that entail?
25:31: Dropping his poles, HellBents in the X Games
28:35: What is the focus of his ski career these days and getting dropped by Oakley

Mar 29 2017
31 mins
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Rank #4: Sponsored, Episode 18: Caroline Gleich

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Once labeled a ski model, Caroline Gleich is open and honest about all she has done to become a respected ski mountaineer.

1:11: Busy early season
2:00: Getting into skiing in MN
3:40: Small in stature
7:12: Moving to Utah
9:15: Ulmer hired to mentor
10:15: How did you get your first sponsor
12:00: The face of skiing in Utah
14:00: How did she get into climbing?
15:00: 2013: The year of Caroline
15:47: Andrew McLean
16:45: Getting back into climbing with Liz
18:00: Challenges of being small
19:30: The gender issue in skiing
20:30: A non-traditional path to finding success
22:44: Who pays the bills?
25:00: What’s on tap for 2017

"I always had this greater vision for myself, and along the way everyone told me I couldn't do it—I was too small, I wasn't strong enough—but eventually you kind of have to decide what you're capable of and not listen to anyone else," says Gleich, in this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast.

Gleich and host Mike Powell also discuss gender biases in snowsports.

"There's still so much implicit bias about what a small woman can do," says Gleich. "In snowsports, we still have a really long way to go as far as gender equality. At the end of the day, I think my actions will speak louder than any of my words. I do want validation and would love more recognition about my accomplishments, but at the end of the day, I'd rather just do the thing and let my actions speak for me."

In addition to being a ski mountaineer, Gleich is known for her perpetual high energy.

"I'm just so grateful in my adult life to keep my body in motion. Growing up, sitting through school was always really hard for me," says Gleich. "When I'm in the mountains, I'm just so overjoyed to be there. So I think just having the energy and the stoke, it was really helpful to have that burning desire."

Jan 04 2017
28 mins
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Rank #5: Sponsored, Episode 10: Cody Townsend

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, presented by Powder Radio, host Mike Powell interviews Cody Townsend, who was fresh off a "jungle skiing" shoot as the stunt double for Vin Diesel. Townsend talks about how, as a kid, he followed the stars of Squaw, like Shane McConkey, JT Holmes, and Kent Kreitler, until they let them ski with him.

"I literally would tail them, two or three chairs behind them, and follow them around," says Townsend. "I remember I had a pair of GS skis, and I bent up the tails with irons so that i had my first pair of twin-tips, and those guys are on fat skis on a pow day, ripping turns, and skiing lines and I would just straightline everything because I had such skinny skis on, to try to keep up with them. Eventually, that day, JT came up to me and was like, 'Dude, you got to get some fat skis.' The rest is history. JT and Kreitler took me under their wing."

Townsend is also candid about his setbacks and doubt of fulfilling his dream.

"I remember going to Shane McConkey's house... putting the VHS in... watching it and just wanting to cry because [my footage] was so bad," he says. "I definitely remember, man, maybe I'm not going to be a pro skier, because I suck. I was really down at that moment. This has been my dream since I was 6 years old, since I watched Scot Schmidt movies and was like, oh my God, I want to be a skier."

Nov 09 2016
43 mins
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Rank #6: Sponsored, Episode 20: David Lesh

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Pro skier David Lesh is known for his controversial promo videos. To say he is misunderstood may be an understatement. This week on the "Sponsored" podcast, host Mike Powell has an honest conversation with Lesh about his life story. Lesh talks about growing up in India, English being his third language, blowing a lunch date with President Obama, getting kicked out of school, and his long list of felonies. Lesh even had to remove an ankle bracelet in order to compete in an event in Michigan.

"One comp I went to drove up to the UP and had to obviously cut my ankle bracelet off because one, I couldn't put a ski boot on, and two, I was going to leave the state anyway. Full well knowing that the consequence for me cutting off said ankle bracelet was two weeks in jail when I got back. I actually ended up getting third in the comp."

Lesh, not one to shy away from the more damning details of his criminal life, also talks about a motorcycle chase.

"My goal was to stop doing all this crazy stuff but—we were hopping freight trains and taking a road trip around the country for a few months and I made the mistake of buying a crotch rocket in Santa Cruz, and I was driving it up the coast to Portland, where I was going to move, and I got in a high speed chase at 140 mph. I wrecked the thing, and got away—didn't get in any trouble. But it took me about 9 months or so to rebuild it and I still hadn't gotten insurance. [Then] I was driving it around in Portland [and police tried to pull me over.] I got away, but they set up a police net and brought the dogs in and they almost ripped my head off. I was hiding in a bush in someone's backyard. I got caught for that. My parents told me to go fuck myself. I had no money for a lawyer at all. I got stuck with a public defender. I was 18. I spent a bunch of time in jail. A really bummer deal. So now I'm a felon. I can't technically own firearms... I actually got a glock right here."

Jan 17 2017
39 mins
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Rank #7: Sponsored, Episode 26: Drew Tabke

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, host Mike Powell interviews perennial Freeride World Tour contender and former champion Drew Tabke. Tabke is one of the most outspoken athletes on the tour, and the two discuss how to grow the exposure of what is skiing's most exciting competition and why Tabke returns year after year.

"I really do believe in what we're doing," says Tabke. "Sometimes it's epic and sometimes it's not, but it's almost always worthwhile."

1:00: How has your season been so far?
2:30: The early years in Hawaii
4:20: Moving back to Park City
5:30: Skiing in High School
10:00: College and competing
11:15: Life on the Freeride World Tour
18:00: What needs to change on the FWT?
21:15: How has his approach to safety changed in the past decade?
24:00: What has kept him on the FWT instead of filming?
26:30: FWT reality show is the future

Mar 15 2017
28 mins
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Rank #8: Sponsored, Episode 21: Aaron McGovern

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Aaron McGovern was known for sending it. Violent crashes were known as "McGoverning." In the bar, he was known for getting wasted and picking fights. McGovern was constantly flirting with "the edge of destruction." Sometimes it worked—he filmed over 20 segments and appeared on 15 magazine covers. And sometimes it didn't—he has a long list of injuries and arrests. Now sober for 10 years and a freeskiing coach at Squaw, McGovern has a newfound joy of coaching, which he says gives him as much happiness as anything. On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Aaron McGovern shares his never boring story with host Mike Powell.

McGovern is candid about his past. The two talk about why he was always pushing it.

"You really can't learn unless you're there, on that edge of destruction," says McGovern. "Anyone can ski down a groomer, but to learn what you can possible handle and ski through and live, you have to send it. If you're not falling, or not on the edge of destruction, you're not learning."

Powell and McGovern also talk about the state of professional skiing and McGovern's love of working with kids.

"I just love coaching. I get the same feeling when a kid makes the podium doing a freeski comp than if I was on the podium," says McGovern. "I've banged myself up so much doing this stuff that at least I can pass it on to someone else hopefully."

Jan 24 2017
23 mins
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Rank #9: Sponsored, Episode 12: Hadley Hammer

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, host Mike Powell interviews top big-mountain skier Hadley Hammer. A Jackson Hole local, Hammer stands out for her intelligence and ability to drop massive cliffs effortlessly. A Jackson Hole local, Hammer stands out for her intelligence and ability to drop massive cliffs effortlessly. The two discuss her background, how she made it as a skier, and the difference in being a female professional skier.

"I think it's way easier to be a female in action sports," says Hammer. "When you really think about it, they're aren't that many girls out there. There are maybe 10 that can really crush. My bigger concern is, where are all the girls coming up?"

Hadley Hammer Show Notes
1:00: Running Marathons
2:25: Growing up in Jackson Hole
7:30 New Hampshire
11:00: Working as an 8 year old
12:00 Washington DC
14:00: Back to the mountains
16:00: Taking Skiing more seriously and breaking her back, then what happens?
17:30: Competing
26:44: Transitioning to filming
29:50: Going to Windell’s with Angel
32:04: Line and The Traveling Circus
33:06 Gender and Skiing
38:00: What’s on tap for Hadley

Nov 22 2016
42 mins
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Rank #10: Sponsored, Episode 24: Skogen Sprang

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This week on the "Sponsored" podcast, freeskiing legend Skogen Sprang stops by to talk with host by Mike Powell about his career as a competition and film skier, his style and versatility.

"I did look at it as you should be able to ski every aspect of freeskiing," says Sprang. "You should be good at all these things. And I just enjoyed it, too. For me, always the big mountain and powder and backcountry stuff has been the pinnacle goal of being in the mountains, enjoying it, creating cool looking shots, or images, really just being out there and enjoying the mountains and the soul aspect of that, but then I equally love being out in urban areas and getting creative with some setup and getting technical and playing around in the streets, sliding metal. That's equally as fun just in a totally different way."

1:47: Moved to Park City for the U.S. Team
3:08: Growing up with two brothers and how he got into skiing?
5:26: Switching to snowboarding
7:49: Moving to Tahoe to become a pro snowboarder
10:40: How did he get on Line Skis and what were things line in the late 90s?
17:22: The style of his skiing and skiing everything
20:27: Competition mindset
22:19: The highlights of filming
24:22: The injury
26:53: Starting a valet business
28:43: Head Coach, U.S. Slopestyle Team

Feb 22 2017
31 mins
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Rank #11: Sponsored, Episode 25: Kristi Leskinen

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2:43 Life in Arizona
3:44: Growing up in Pennsylvania wakeboarding and skiing
6:00: The end of team sports
8:32: Killington Mountain School
9:12: Skiing, wakeboarding, and the US Open
12:29: The early challenges for women in the beginning of the modern twin tip era
15:55: The photo shoots that had nothing to do with skiing
18:48: Was she able to make a lot of money skiing?
19:37: Head injuries led to retirement
21:42: ABC’s Superstars and winning it
23:26: The controversy she started with the E-Sports world

Mar 08 2017
25 mins
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Rank #12: Sponsored, Episode 17: Karl Fostvedt

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Karl Fostvedt talks to host Mike Powell about pursuing his dream of being a professional skier at all costs. "I always wanted to be a pro skier. I've always wanted it and have been working for it." Powell talks to Fostvedt about how he finagled his way into a variety of contests, including how he showed up to Cold Rush unannounced.

"Cold Rush had this crazy sketchy railroad feature, and nobody wanted to hit it. Pep (Fujas) rolled through and I had noticed that nobody was hitting that thing and rails have always just come naturally to me. I had asked him to let me into the competition and there was nothing he could do, so I was like, 'Hey man, can I please just guinea pig that rail?' I think he had a sigh of relief, like, he didn't want to hit it. I think I had my powder skis on at the time and never hit a rail on them, but I was feeling a little pressure from a childhood hero and decided to send it and ended it up greasing it up and landing it perfect. Right after that, everybody started sessioning it.

Show Notes
2:00: Problems at the border
4:20: Growing up
10:30: After High School
15:00: Relationship with ON3P
19:00: Getting into Dew Tour
23:00: Detroit
28:00: Tamashii Project
32:00: Hollywood
40:00: What’s next

Dec 28 2016
42 mins
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Rank #13: Sponsored, Episode 16: Clayton Vila

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Clayton Vila is one of the hardest working and most accomplished street skiers in the world. On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Vila and host Mike Powell discuss how he got into street skiing as a kid from Rhode Island, and the consequences of pursuing creativity over competition.

"The K2 team had a bunch of dudes and none of them competed," says Vila. "These people are backing people who are just doing what I want to do and skiing with the utmost integrity and pushing skiing in other ways beyond competition, which was why it was like, 'wow, if I get in with these dudes I might be able to make it."

In addition to being one of the most influential contemporary skiers in the world, Vila is also a filmmaker (at the 2015 Powder Awards, Vila took home Movie of the Year for his role starring and producing For Lack of Better. He now lives in LA and works on the show "Scandal," but he has no intention of not skiing urban.

"It may be one of the more wearing sports mentally, in terms of the work ethic, and just being in crappy cities, being in hotels, it being negative 20 in Minnesota filming your friends and your fingers are falling off and you have nothing to show for it at the end of the day," says Vila. "That whole thing wears on you, but I don't see myself stopping anytime soon."

Show Notes

2:00: Last Season
4:00: Block Island
5:00: How did Clayton get into skiing on an island?
6:00: Waterville Valley
11:05: Meeting the Stept Crew
13:00: Getting on K2
15:55: It’s not about skiing
19:20: Injuries
22:30: Filmmaking
24:29: Finances
26:30: Powder Awards Movie of the Year

Dec 20 2016
29 mins
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Rank #14: Sponsored, Episode 29: Colston Vb

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On this episode of the "Sponsored" podcast, Colston VB talks to host Mike Powell about the struggle to make it as a professional skier. The two discuss Vb's role on Bravo's reality TV show, Timber Creek Lodge, which he was conflicted about appearing on.

"Within skiing I really focused on not selling out," he says. "I really focused on staying super core and not doing the cheesy Instagram stuff and not compromising myself and I wanted to be talent first. A part of it was funny and part of it was to take a break and enjoy it. I'm really happy I did it."

2:00: Growing up in Rossland, BC, in a ski bum home 6:00: Colston's career 9:55: Overcoming money issues and living life to its fullest 11:30: Sponsors and Jeff Schmuck helping him out 12:55: Being a professional, getting an agent, and learning lessons 16:10: The biggest moments of his ski career 18:25: How did he get into reality TV? Does it kill skiing?
22:30: Being semi-famous in a digital world 23:45: Questions from fans of the show 26:00: Money in reality TV and what’s next in skiing, TV, and life

Apr 05 2017
29 mins
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Rank #15: Sponsored, Episode 19: Frank Raymond

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One of the original rail skiers, Frank Raymond joins "Sponsored" to discuss all he learned through skiing and what he's up to now.

Show Notes

2:30: The real world
4:00: Getting into skiing
6:00: Focusing on skiing
7:00: Quitting racing
9:00: Sponsors
11:00: Movie parts
12:20: JF
15:50: Felix Rioux gets Frank on K2
17:23: Are you making money in skiing?
18:40: Retirement
20:00: How he planned the season out
21:00: Top 3 moments of his pro career
22:44: Maude Raymond
24:27: School
27:00: The benefits of a real job

Jan 11 2017
30 mins
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