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Why Ski Alta?
Yet another entertaining interview with Johnny B and "Captain Big" Chris Collins. Chris is very well spoken and talks a lot about how he and his brother Matt inspire one another, their background skiing in Oregon and some of the early progressive movements of gap jumping and the big mountain scene at Alta. Enjoy reading the transcript of Johnny B and Chris' dicussion or download/listen to the MP3 podcast.

Johnny B: Hello skiers, this is Johnny B for Today I'll be talking to professional freeskier, Chris Collins. How is it going, Chris?

Chris: It's going good, Johnny B How's it going with you, man?

Johnny B: Good to see you. Thanks for taking the time out.

Chris: My pleasure.

Johnny B: Chris, tell us where you came from and how you came to Alta.

Chris: Oh, let's see. I grew up in Oregon, Baker City, Oregon, and through the process of just kind of going to school and looking for a better place to ski. I ended up moving out to Alta. I kind of followed my brother, Matt, out here. Yeah. He moved out. Let me see, it was seven seasons ago now and so it's starting to feel like I'm a veteran.

Johnny B: Yeah. You've been here for quite a while. What was the lure to Alta besides your brother? What got you to come here? What was the decision?

Chris: Well, I came out and visited him one year over spring break. I was going to school in Ashland, Southern Oregon and I really had no idea just how sick the terrain was here. You know, I was kind of thinking, I'd move to Jackson Hole or Whistler. You know, there are a couple of other places that I was thinking about. You know, Squaw or maybe Tahoe.

But I'd really never seen Utah before and coming out here and riding Alta during I guess it was late March or something like that whenever spring break is and just seeing the mountain and there was a ton of snow that year, it was just awesome. I was hooked. You know, I knew I was coming back.

Johnny B: So, the terrain and the powder got you to come here.

Chris: Yeah. Pretty much. I like to ski big mountains and catch air. You know, and there's just an abundance of that here and you could see it right away.

Johnny B: It's true. And where did you work when you first came here?

Chris: I got a job at the Peruvian Lodge up in the Town of Alta.

Johnny B: I see.

Chris: I did the night audit which was pretty cool because I worked all night and then pretty much have every day for you to ski. You know, if I wasn't too tired. So, I usually do get a little sleep at night after work and then wake up, you know, and then have a look out the window I guess and see how much it was snowing. And if it was good, go out and, if not, catch a few more hours of sleep.

Johnny B: I see. Did you get much sleep during work?

Chris: Oh, a few hours here and there.

Johnny B: Nice. You know, you're known as Captain Big, if I'm not mistaken. How do you bust a double back flip? Like take us through that.

Chris: Well, you start by doing a lot of single back flips I guess. You know, I was lucky enough my parents bought me a trampoline, I was like in sixth grade. So, that helped a lot. You know, you build up slowly. You go to the diving boards a lot and practice in all kinds of places.

But with the double back flips, you know, it's just a matter of throwing in a little harder and being aware of where you are in the air. You know, all that just comes from experience from doing it. You know, the first couple of times you do it, you are not going to know where the hell you are in the air. But you've done it a couple of times, you know, you start to see the ground coming and stuff. So, it's just a matter of counting to two.

Johnny B: I see. I see. I just there was a time you know, a few years back, I heard a story about how you did a double back flip over Onno who was standing on a cat track. Tell us about that. Is that true?

Chris: Yeah. That was really the first time I'd seen Onno. It was the first year I've moved to Alta. So, it was before the season actually started. It was Matt and some of the Goldminers Daughter kids. We had this little jump built over a cat track just right at the bottom of a high boy there. You know, those little switch backs?

Johnny B: Sure.

Chris: There was enough snow where we had a little kicker built off that and we were trying some stuff. We were trying some Mistys and D-spins, those kinds of things. I did a double back off it and I don't think I stuck it but I came around pretty much to my feet.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: You know, I was pretty stoked on that because it was one of the first ones I'd done and Onno happened to be just hiking up the cat track right there just getting some exercise.

Johnny B: So, that was your introduction to Onno.

Chris: Yeah. I really didn't meet him right then. But I think those guys were like, Hey, hey, that was Onno right there.

Johnny B: I'm sure he was impressed. What is your fondest memory from childhood skiing when you first started skiing?

Chris: Oh, man. Something that jumps out right away is learning how to do 360s. Matt and I had this little jump on what we called on the Palma Hill.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: The little bunny slope hill. There was this little jump that always formed right on the side of it and we would hit that thing over and over trying to learn how to do 360s and come up 270, you know.

Johnny B: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: So many times.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: Then finally, I don't know, something just clicks and we start, you know, following your head or something and coming all the way around and, you know, finally sticking it. I think it was, yeah, pretty cool.

Johnny B: We are talking about a helicopter here.

Chris: The helicopter. The 360. The three.

Johnny B: And, now, you know, speaking of Matt, Matt is your brother and also a great skier. What kind of impact have you guys had on each other as far as skiing goes and competing and mountain biking and stuff?

Chris: Oh, man. It's been huge.

Johnny B: Is there a sibling rivalry there?

Chris: There is a little bit of a rivalry but we more feed off each other, you know, in a positive way. We are not super competitive especially with each other. You know, we push each other a lot but it's more just because we want to.

Johnny B: I see. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: But I mean there has definitely been times where one of us has been way more into skiing than the other one and then all of a sudden you know, like say Matt is more into skiing and I'm away at college or something.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: And I come out and ski with him for a while and it gets me back into it and it gets me super stoked and vice versa.

Johnny B: How much money would it take to fight Mike Tyson? What would be your strategy?

Chris: I would try to bite him in the ear, I think.

Johnny B: You would try to bite his ear. And how much would you fight him for right now in your present economic state?

Chris: Twenty bucks.

Johnny B: Twenty bucks? And you would go for his ear?

Chris: Yeah. Right away.

Johnny B: Alright, there you have it folks. Chris, you've been fortunate to travel around the world a bit. Tell me. What was the craziest thing that ever happened to you abroad? What is one of the most craziest experiences that you've ever had while you're traveling?

Chris: Man, sometimes just some crazy stuff happens to you, you know. Europe, it's just a know, it's like the US but everything is just a little askew, I guess. And then you go a little deeper into these other countries where it's more askew and some places are just totally opposite, it seems like, of what you are used to.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: And Russia was really like that for me. It was just everything there was really difficult. You know, I mean from checking into the hotel, you know, to likeobviously, the airport and traveling is going to be a total cluster with all your gear, you know.

Johnny B: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: But I mean having to kind of bribe cops, you know, just to get them to let you go through and just I don't know. There was just a lot of stuff in Russia that was really difficult. It was a really great experience. I loved the time there and the skiing was awesome.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Chris: But I just couldn't believe how hard it was just to do some of the things you take for granted.

Johnny B: Really? It made it kind of difficult and you had to like bribe just to get through like roadblocks and stuff?

Chris: Well, you know, they can see you're American and they assume, if you are an American, you've got tons of money.

Johnny B: Right.

Chris: And so they are going to tax you a little bit. But they don't just tax you. They end up scaring you to tax you. You know, they take your passport and then they wait a while, you know. And you are like, "What the hell is going on? Come back." And they are like, "Well, there's a problem, you know." And so you get really scared and by the time they say, "Well, we could just settle it right here for, you know, fifty dollars," you are like, "Fine. Here. There. Great."

Johnny B: Yeah. Let me out of here.

Chris: You know, Why don't you just tell me that at first? I would have gladly paid you so I could be on my way.

Johnny B: Those crazy Russians. There you have it folks. This is Johnny B with Chris Collins for Chris, I appreciate your time.

Chris: No problem, Johnny.

Johnny B: Let's go skiing, brother.

Chris: Let's send it.

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