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Few skiers have had such a lasting impact on their sport like Mike Douglas. From Olympic-caliber bumper to freeskiing pioneer to ski design innovator to influential filmmaker, Whistler’s Douglas has been at the forefront of skiing for more than 25 years. There’s a good reason everyone calls him “the Godfather of Freeskiing.” He pushed his young moguls skiers — like Vincent Dorian, J.P. Auclair, J.F. Cusson and Shane Szocs — into “snowboard parks” in the mid 1990s, where the crew became known as the New Canadian Air Force. Their FIS-dissing trickery chafed against international rules that forbid mogul skiers from getting inverted.
Douglas and his crew designed their perfect ski, which became the Salomon 1080 and changed skiing.
Douglas has spent his life exploring skiing from the perspective of athlete, coach, ski designer, instructor and filmmaker. Tune in as the Godfather holds court.
4:00: Moving to Whistler for a quick year before university, Douglas signs up for moguls contests and ends the season ranked third in British Columbia.
5:05: Making a run for the Lillehammer Games in 1994, Douglas works with the Canadian Freestyle Team.
5:45: Bad habits plagued his early skiing. The worst? The heavy head. “The world slows down the farther you look.”
7:30: Started coaching in Whistler Blackcomb, teaching the next generation of mogul skiers.
9:15: Top athletes were grating under the strictures of FIS mogul skiing. Snowboarding was blowing up. Skiers wondered why they couldn’t do that same tricks as snowboarders.
10:15: Back then, if you wanted to change a trick, it took two years to win FIS approval. “Meanwhile we were watching snowboarders innovating every week.”
10:40: Douglas and top bumpers started poaching the snowboard-only terrain parks after moguls practice.
12:00: The skills from mogul skiing transferred to the park. Balanced at speed.
13:15: Trial-and-error skill development in the park predated trampolines and airbags.
14:30: The creation of the Salomon 1080. “We knew we needed a ski that was different.”
19:00: Absorbing the fire he sparked in freeskiing. “Every day I see something ridiculous that melts my brain.”
21:30 Longevity on skis comes from a drive to keep moving and keep improving.
27:30: Almost every day on the same skis and boots.
29:00: The technology that enabled the one-ski quiver.
30:50: Lessons from 18 years teaching at Chile’s Superstars Camp.
32:50: Three most basic principles of skiing. Simple is better. “If you can do those three things you can ski well anywhere."
35:35: Seeking the secret to longevity and "The Fountain of Youth" in Japan with Everest skier Yuichiro Miura and his son Gota.
38:40: Step by step. “You got to have a goal.”
41:20: Notching wins for the climate as a driving force behind Protect Our Winters Canada. Motivating skiers to write 23,000 letters to the government, forcing a coal mine expansion to undergo intensive environmental review. “We may have saved 15 million tons of carbon dioxide from going into the air every year.”
“The world slows down the farther you look.”