Auf dem IF3 in Innsbruck hatten wir die Möglichkeit mit Pep Fujas, einem der talentiertesten und vielseitigsten Freeskier, ein Interview zu machen. Er fährt seit letztem Winter für Patagonia und ist dieses Jahr in den Filmen Valhalla und Tracing Skylines zu sehen. Wir sind schon gespannt, was uns nächsten Winter von ihm erwartet. Viel Spaß mit dem Interview, das natürlich wie immer in der Muttersprache des Athleten ist.

Interview Pep Fujas

Hi Pep! How are you, where on earth are you right now and what are you doing there?

I’m currently in Salt Lake City getting prepped for the ski season. Planning, exercising, organizing and just living.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m a ski entertainer performing my skill in a variety of terrain all over the world. I’m a marketing tool for the companies I ride for. I want to show how much fun it is to ski, whether it’s skiing slow and jibbing or ripping fast and launching through the air, or conquering your fears and taking risks.
As a person I’m a bit of in introvert.

You are starring in two of the highest anticipated ski films of the year: Sweetgrass´ Valhalla and Poor Boyz` Tracing Skylines. Besides, you are on the November cover of the Powder Magazine. Congratulations to all that! So would you say that you had a blast of a season last year?

Thanks! Yeah, I had a really good season. I didn’t really realize I had such a good year until the movies came out and people were really hyped on what I did. It seemed to go by pretty quickly and I didn’t feel like I had accomplished all that much. I felt like I spread myself pretty thin, going from one location to the next and filming for different projects.

In 2007 you started Nimbus Independent with Eric Pollard, Andy Mahre and Chris Bencheter to bring a different perspective to the world of ski movies. Tracing Skylines and especially Valhalla are also no common ski films, as we knew it for several years.
What was your intention in doing some sort of different movies?

Nimbus was created after IDEA was made in 2006. It was a company created on the coat tails of the success of that movie. Andy, Eric and myself realized that having creative control over our content and creating something different was more rewarding then just creating segments for bigger companies. We also felt like our style of skiing was a bit different then most other riders out there and a lot of what we do is more relatable to the everyday skier. Granted there is a lot that your average skier can’t do, but the way it is presented makes you think you can do it. Nimbus also isn’t just about the skiing, it’s about the environments we get to go to, the food, the friendships and the fun!

Pep Fujas in Action
Pep Fujas in Action (youtube)

In January 2013 you joined the Patagonia ski team. Do you have any possibilities or do you want to bring in your own ideas in Patagonia´s product development?

Patagonia loves ideas. They feel like one of the biggest reasons for having ambassadors is to test the product in the environments they frequent. This way they will get the most accurate feedback on the performance of their gear and thus be able to make the necessary adjustments to make the best product. I have brought a number of ideas to the table and they have been very receptive.

Patagonia is a forerunner of eco-friendly outdoor companies and represents obvious environmental protection values. Furthermore, you are a supporter of Protect our Winters and Alpine Initiatives. Are these important values in your private life as well and how do you live up to them?

My philosophy is to do what you can. They are very important values that I hold onto and give a lot of thought to but I seem to be in a feud with myself over what I think and what I actually do. I’m conscious of my own impact on the world and try to do my best but I can always make an excuse to justify flying here or there, snowmobiling or jumping in a helicopter to go skiing. Then there are the products I have access to that companies will ship right to my doorstep if I ask, of which the majority are not necessary for my survival. I do give back by giving a lot of product to GoodWills and friends. This is part of how I justify ordering the stuff in the first place. I do unplug all my appliances and turn the thermostat down when I go on trips. The thing is, every single thing we do as humans is impacting the world albeit mostly in a negative manner. I realize that but what is the solution? It’s easy for me criticize big business for not taking responsibility for making consumer goods that can’t be recycled. One thing in particular that really aggravates me is when I see a company that is advertising organic/vegan/gluten free/healthy/whatever, and they package it in a non-recyclable container. Anyway, the point is I don’t feel like I live up to them. When I shop, I try to shop local, healthy and in bulk but then again I eat out multiple times a week and unfortunately that isn’t ecologically conscious. It’s really a tough subject. All I can do is do better and hope that others continue to think about the big picture.

In this context, do you think that it´s time for the ski resorts and ski companies to rethink their actions concerning sustainability?

I think all companies should rethink sustainability. It’s good that there are some out there who are pursuing better eco-business practices. Aspen mountain is a great example of one resort that has implemented quite a few changes that have and will reduce their footprint. I hope others will follow in their footsteps. As for ski companies, they have a long way to go. Some are using bamboo for their cores, Bravo, but the cores aren’t the real problem. It’s the energy used to make skis, the presses, the highly toxic resins, building overseas etc… A start is a start but using bamboo doesn’t make your skis or your company eco-friendly. The short answer is yes.

A life as a skier seems like living in a never-ending winter. What are you doing during the summer months and in your spare time?

It would appear that way to most people and that is certainly how it’s been many summers. The truth is, I love summer and summertime activities. Surfing, biking, camping, climbing, fishing and skateboarding are what I spend a lot of my summer time doing. When I’m not planning or engaging in an outdoor activity I’m probably dealing with life, gardening, organizing, cooking or trying to figure out what my next move is.

You are living in Salt Lake City. Is this the ideal place for a skier?

I can’t seem to leave here. It’s pretty spot on for what I do. The airport is 15 minutes from my doorstep and there are 7 resorts within an hour drive. The backcountry here is pretty good, not incredible, but good. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, I’d rather live in Europe or BC but for the states it’s optimal.

You are one of the most versatile and best skiers in the freeski world. But in your sport you have to face a lot of challenges like e.g. injuries. How can you motivate yourself after suffering such setbacks? Do you have any insider tips to get motivated again?

You have to be dedicated. I get pretty depressed. That’s part of being injured. Everyone says you have to keep a positive outlook. Just stay strong and keep your head up. Don’t fake it. If you fake being happy, that makes it worse because no one knows you are struggling. I think you have to be capable of handing the bad just as you relish in the good. You can’t ignore depression you just have to work through it. A good thing to do is get in a routine. Do your exercises and find other activities or subjects you are interested in. Get out of the house. Meditate. Educate yourself on your condition and do everything possible to get your strength back or sustain the strength you have. Know that your body is resilient and it just takes time to heal.

In your career so far, you travelled almost the entire globe. Which destination or project is on your all-time-favorite to-do-list?

I’m kind of confused by the question. I absolutely love Japan! There’s magic in the snow and the culture that keeps me wanting more. I also love BC. Heck, now that I think of it, I really want to go back to every place I’ve been and explore more of where I haven’t been. I really want to go to the Club Fields of New Zealand, the southern tip of South America, Patagonia, The Himalayas, The Caucasus, the Wind River range and the list goes on…

On your long journeys, do you have any travel-rituals? Or also homecoming-rituals, when returning back?

Most of my travel rituals have to do with the cuisine in each country. I’ll make an effort to get to Ramen houses in Japan, Asados in South America, meat pies and flat whites and bread, stinky cheese and wine in Europe. When I get back I usually want to satisfy my craving for fresh vegetables or Indian and Thai cuisine.

I heard of you being a passionate photographer. Is this just a hobby of yours or do you have any plans on taking the camera out with you in the snow and maybe start a following career after your life as a skier?

It’s just a hobby. I’ve taken it out in the snow and have had some shots published but I’d rather be in front of the lens.

Winter is just around the corner. So what are your plans for the upcoming season?

I have plans up until the first week of January. After that my season is up in the air. There are 2 paths I could go down. One would be a 2 year project with Nimbus and the other would be shooting with PBP and SweetGrass.

Last but not least: any last words you want to spread?

Ski for yourself.

Thank you so much for your time! We wish you all the best for the upcoming season!

Bridging the Gap with Pep Fujas

(From the 2013 Sweetgrass feature release VALHALLA) (© Patagonia)