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Alta Is For Skiers
Alta Is For Skiers

Dan Withey Podcast
An AltaCam Exclusive!

JB & DW Segment 1
JB & DW Segment 2
JB & DW Segment 3

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Why Ski Alta?
On January 23rd, 2007, Johnny B met up with Alta freerider and long time Little Cottonwood local Dan Withey to talk shop about life and skiing. Read the contents of Johnny and Dan's discussion or listen to the MP3 podcasts which are segmented into three parts:

Johnny B: Hello skiers, welcome to AltaCam.com. My name is Johnny B. and today Iíll be talking with a professional freeskier and legendary bartender Dan Whitey. Dan, it's always good to see you. How's things going?

Dan: Great Johnny.

Johnny B: Nice. Hit any ramps lately?

Dan: Tons of ramps.

Johnny B: Well, I saw you hit that one the other day. [laughs] To begin with, tell us where you grew up skiing, Dan.

Dan: I started skiing it I was kind of, I never skied much. I played baseball and stuff like that. And my parents took us on a ski trip up to the upper peninsula of Michigan, up at Ski Brule because they have a run that's a mile long there.

Johnny B: Really?

Dan: Yeah.

Johnny B: Ski Brule?

Dan: Ski Brule.

Johnny B: Right on.

Dan: And I was fourteen when, my brother was six. We started skiing on the exact same day and yeah, I remember I was trying to stop. I remember my sister was better than me, but there was nothing much that she was better than me at. Once I learned how to stop, it was all downhill.

Johnny B: It was all downhill from there. So, you and your brother learned to ski on the same day?

Dan: That's right.

Johnny B: Impressive. And tell me, what was your fondest memory of that place of your childhood skiing?

Dan: I think I just remembered that, it's like what everybody thinks when they first started skiing about how far you can go, you know like; I just never found any sports like that before, like gravity style sports. I never skateboarded or rarely even rode my bike just because I always spent my time doing other things. And I think I enjoyed the fact that you can just cruise so far and that definitely got me addicted to it.

Johnny B: You were hooked from that point on?

Dan: Very much so.

Johnny B: Alright.

Dan: I even quit wrestling because of it.

Johnny B: Really? So, you were a wrestler, too?

Dan: That's right, buddy.

Johnny B: [laughs] Nice.

Dan: 98.

Johnny B: Tell me, Dan, what album best sums up your childhood? [laughs]

Dan: Oh, geez.

Johnny B: Be honest here.

Dan:Probably, anything from Van Halen. I remember my whole room was Van Halen, like Eddie Van Halen posters and stuff like that - my dad probably thought I was probably really wasnít sure how it was all going to work out.

Johnny B: Dude, I didn't know we had that in common. I was a big VH fan, Van bands around the night with David Lee Roth.

Dan: Dude I thought those guys were so cool. It was so funny.

Johnny B: They were at that time.

Dan: They were cool. I lost it though after David Lee Roth.

Johnny B: Oh, yeah. I couldn't handle Hagar either. It really crushed me. So, what's the album?

Dan: I just can't pick one; come on you can't pick one.

Johnny B: Yeah, I guess, you know, I guess you're right.

Dan: I guess high school maybe was more Led Zeppelin. Van Halen was maybe more like middle school.

Johnny B: Really? Yeah. I think for me it was middle school but I was kind of expecting from you maybe a Styx's album or something. I feel like you're holding out on me.

Dan: Boston maybe?

Johnny B: Boston. Well, alright. Cool. Yeah you're right. Itís really hard to name one album.

Dan: Freshman year was a lot of Boston.

Johnny B: Freshman year high school a lot of Boston.

Dan: Yep, more than the feeling?

Johnny B: [laughs] That song was a huge song in my life, too. Dan, tell us when did you move to Alta and what inspired you to move here?

Dan: Well, I really didn't feel like being in college anymore it's pretty like bummed out of the whole deal, University of Minnesota, and Iím going to take a year off and go skiing. It was a whim to come out here; it was a buddy of mine's idea. We came out here and it snowed about 800 and some inches that year in '92, '93. and I didn't know how to ski powder. I just, I donít know, I mean I had never skied anything but flat ice. And pretty much a full dousing and like I just couldn't leave after that. I was like, "Whoa!" and I liked it.

Johnny B: And that was it?

Dan: Well, I was like, I mean growing up in the suburbs and sounds like it was very different living out here. It was up for more, I think, my lifestyle.

Johnny B: Right on. New life for Dan Withey. Who were your ski riding mentors back then? And who are they now?

Dan: Well, my first season it was the fudge man, Jeff Skillen.

Johnny B: Fudge man?

Dan: Yeah, he like, he had some sponsors and he was a ripper, good bumper, one leg. So I was skiing moguls, I ski in powder but like chasing fudgy around. And then he was like the first guy I ever saw like really hit big jumps, you know, and like stick them and like operational all the time.

Johnny B: So you guys hit all the ramps.

Dan: [laughs] That's when I started hitting lots of ramps. And like the next couple of years, Scot Oda and Derek Nelson came around and those guys.

Johnny B: O' Dog, a legend.

Dan: Those guys. And they grew up skiing in Washington and they kind of got me out of the bumps, a little more like touring a little bit or about to these days.

Johnny B: It was around that time that you started to get the hang of powder skiing.

Dan: Yeah, that's probably true. Since I really did ski a lots of moguls for a couple of years and Iím like, I donít really see the hill the way. You know, you see it differently once you start cruising around a little more.

Johnny B: It's true. Tell us, what ski were you riding back then?

Dan: K2s, TNCs, 207s.

Johnny B: Oh, good size, good size.

Dan: GS races.

Johnny B: Oh, yeah.

Dan: I blew up one pair of TNCs and then I de-lambed them. And then from that pair of skis, I think I got like four more pairs of free skis because I didn't know how to blow them. It was great.

Johnny B: So, you were just working K2s for a free pair of ski every year?

Dan: No worries. They were down with it.

Johnny B: Man, they were hugging people back then.

Dan: It didn't seem like a problem at all.

Johnny B: Awesome. That's a lot of ski for you. I'm glad you pulled it out.

Dan: Free skis are easy these days. Compared to that.

Johnny B: Before I forget, you went to British Columbia recently on a heli trip. Tell us about that trip. What was the highlight? Do you have any good stories? What happened?

Dan: Good stories? It was McReynolds and I and Dave's wife, Wit, my girlfriend Jessica, Wendy Hawkins, who was Wit's best friend since she was like five years old, little Sarah Grom, Dave Richard's wife, Sarah Evans, and then John Burns who basically footed the whole bill of the whole trip.

Johnny B: Nice guy.

Dan: Really nice guy. Pulled up there on his G5 and it was more of a dream really than a trip. It's pretty amazing. But you know, it was mostly just Dave and I, and John hanging out with five of the same females for nine days.

Johnny B: How was the snow?

Dan: It was ridiculous. Was like seven feet.

Johnny B: What was the highlight? It sounded like it was a trip full of highlights, but --

Dan: It had to be just the weather that we flew in and like up there they fly through the storms. They fly, like if they could see the ground, they'll fly. I mean it's more like the memory of the guy squeegeeing off the windshield because it's like iced all over and stuff like that and waiting out the field while the copter's sitting down just waiting to get enough lights so that we can come and pull up and come pick us up and not wanting down and get picked up in some logging van or snow mobile. But no, that was fun. Canada is so cool. Canadians are cool.

Johnny B: Yeah.

Dan: Yeah.

Johnny B: Sounds like it was an awesome trip.

Dan: It was an awesome trip.

Johnny B: Awesome group.

Dan: That's why you should go to Eagle's Pass heli Skiing.

Johnny B: Is that right, I should I go?

Dan: So, you should know.

Johnny B: I'd like to go on the next trip. I'm going to have to have a talk to John, maybe Iíll be talking with him soon.

Dan: I've heard that before.

Johnny B: Dan, years ago, Craig Dillon took a Dick Durance replica photo of you skiing. The very compelling photo that's becoming one of my favorites. Share with us, if you will, what's the one photo that you're the most proud of?

Dan: It's hard to pick just one, I think. I guess, first cover of Powder magazine just because you never thought that you know. It's kind of like interesting because that was the very first picture that that guy we just met and never thought they're going to shoot me.

Johnny B: Are we talking about Lee?

Dan: Richard Neilson.

Johnny B: Oh, alright. that was the cover. What year was that?

Dan:Ď97, I think?

Johnny B: Oh, right, I remember yep.

Dan: And ah, we just got off the lift, and hiked up the shoulder a bit and it was like fast and blower. That was the first picture that he ever took of me. Cover of Powder.

Johnny B: Awesome man. And that's the photo you're most proud of, obviously your first cover shot.

Dan: Yeah, I think so. It's kind of like, itís hard to pick, you know, to say you're proud of. But that was one that just stands out for sure. I mean, working with all those guys, that's what you're most, they're all my friends, too, I mean, Adam, Bridger, Lee obviously you know, we are all friends. We all have a great time hanging out. That's what you're most proud of.

Johnny B: Awesome. So, you just did your thing, you just hit the ramp.

Dan: Dude it was a ramp right there and say let's hit that ramp.

Johnny B: Cool. Dan, obviously you're an accomplished skier and we know you're a pretty good golfer, and a baseball player. tell us what sport gives you the most satisfaction? Which one gives you the most meltdowns?

Dan: Which one gives me the most --? [laughs] They could be all be equally frustrating, I think. Golf, I guess you just have those clubs in your hands so you can like throw them, stuff like that, bang and whack them. But, I grew up playing competitive tennis in, like John McEnroe was like my idol.

Johnny B: He was a calm player.

Dan: Yeah, he was pretty calm. Something like that from that mold a little bit where I get a little bit worked up. But I think it also like helps me release a little bit. I think that's what's nice about skiing is that it's all gravy as opposed to like baseball where every single game you're not going to hit every single time. I think the zone in baseball is pretty sweet because sometimes you just wait so long, you know, to be on the field when you can't really bring the action to you as much as you can with skiing. So, you just prepare and waiting for that moment or all hell breaks loose and hope to help with that.

Johnny B: That's an awesome answer, Dan. Pretty impressive. Dan, you're a pretty humble guy, what keeps you grounded?

Dan: I think I play golf, sports like that, you seek to be grounded. You can't rule it all the time. I don't know, I mean, it doesn't seem difficult to me like I guess having good friends keeps you grounded. Guys like David McReynolds keep you grounded.

Johnny B: That's the truth. Awesome. Here's something I want to ask you for a while, Dan, knowing you're a true-blooded American, now that US has all but taken over Iraq, what do you propose the new name of Iraq should be, in your opinion?

Dan: Good question, John. There's a lot of freedom over there.

Johnny B: Definitely, so, what comes to mind?

Dan: Freedom land seems like a good name?

Johnny B: [laughs] Freedom land? I couldn't have thought of a better one myself. That sounds perfect. Freedom land.

Dan: Tex-access land?

Johnny B: [Laughs] Or maybe Bushlund? That's be great. I like Freedom land.

Dan: It's simple.

Johnny B: Alright. Dan, it's been good to catch up with you. But before we go skiing, tell us what Alta means to you.

Dan: Alta means -- for me like what I was saying earlier just when I first moved out here it seemed just like the place where I want to be. I was very comfortable here, the lifestyle change was, you know. But, you know the longer that you spend time, you meet so many people that live here. Now, they have kids here and stuff like that, like all the little rippers, they're skiing around now, like basically born and raised here. You see the only guy that was born to race was Grom.

Johnny B: Right. Right.

Dan: But for me it's the town, basically I think. Town and skiing fits so perfectly into the town. People are trying to think of other stuff to do but, ski town. That's what it is.

Johnny B: Just good sound community, ski town, family atmosphere, has obviously become your home.

Dan: I think that's it.

Johnny B: Well, Dan, thanks again for your time. Now, it's time to go ski ride. This is Johnny B with Dan Withey for AltaCam.com. Thanks for checking us out. Right on Dan.

Dan: Let's go hit that ramp.

Johnny B: Alright.

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