Want to be a professional skier?
Step One: Learn to ski as soon as possible. Step Two: Continue to seek mountains that will challenge you. Step Three: Get your picture taken. Step Four: Keep pushing yourself.
At least, that’s what Cheney-grown Micah Black did. The freeskiing superstar got his start in the world of skiing at age three, conquering the lifts at 49 Degrees North. He skied Schweitzer and Silverhorn before giving up on the Northwest and moving to Steamboat, Colorado. He has lived in Jackson Hole, WY; Whistler, BC; Chamonix, France; and Alaska-continuing to specialize as a kick-butt couloir skier and big mountain bad-ass. What gets him down the slopes?
Skis: The Rossignol B4 in the 185 length. Black’s a big guy, but he says, “I don’t need a long ski, I like them shorter.”
Boots: Also Rossignol; Black uses their freeride boot, the Bandit. “Boots are the most important piece of gear-if my feet aren’t happy, I don’t ski well.” The Bandit B16 boot features a custom air fit, Velcro fit, a lycra toe box, and a 3D adjustable tongue.
Bindings: Also Rossignol (oh, the terrible monotony of being a sponsored skier). “I like the Rossignol setup because I can use them everywhere-on powder and crud, big mountain and groomers-they can go everywhere.”
Goggles: Smith Turbo Fan goggle. That’s right, there’s actually a small, battery-powered fan in them. “They’re great,” says Black, “because when they get all fogged up, you can get the fan going and you’re good to go.”
Helmet: “I don’t wear a helmet all the time, but when I go to a big mountain, I definitely do.” Smith recently started making helmets, so Black no longer has to worry about a goggle gap between his lenses and his helmet. The new Smith Holt helmet “features the Smith AirEvac(tm) drafting system: incorporated vents which help draw air up through the goggle to the back of the helmet,” according to a press release.
Long undies: “I don’t actually wear long underwear usually,” says Black. A t-shirt on top and surf shorts are his usual under-armor. If you saw Black’s ski/surf session in Morocco, featured in Anomaly, you might understand the logic here. Actually, Black says that with the knee pads and bracing system he wears, in addition to toasty ski socks, he doesn’t need any more layers. “If you overlayer, it’s like running your car when it’s too hot-it just doesn’t perform well.”
Outerwear: “A puffy jacket” (by Spyder), and pants (by Spyder), and gloves (by Spyder).
Backpack: Dakine’s Vertex.
Accessories: “I try to travel as light as possible,” says Black, “but when you’re a professional big mountain skier, that means also carrying avalanche gear (a shovel and a transceiver), a radio and a cell phone.”
If you missed Micah Black in person when he was touring with the latest Teton Gravity Research film, Anomaly, he’ll be back. “I just bought an RV,” he said, “I’m going to come back and do a sort of grassroots tour.” He’ll be hitting local ski resorts mid-December through New Year’s.