People - Drew Tabke (English)
Most of the people in Germany that know Drew Tabke got introduced to him during last year's Freeride World Tour season, where he finished second overall. Nonetheless Drew has already been around the professional world of freeskiing for quite some time before that. For almost ten years he's been successfully competing von venues around the globe. We had the opportunity to talk to him about the upcoming three events of the Freeride World Tour by The North Face, the definition of his style of skiing and his plans to emigrate to a tropical country.--- Click here to see the German version ---
fs.net: Drew, you just recently won the FWT event in Chamonix. What's your conclusion on how the contest went down?
Drew: Contest was great. The FWT again proves they're very professional, having everything ready at dawn - athletes on top, live feed ready, everything in place, to ensure the best possible show for the public and conditions for the riders. And that was on a backup venue, so they had to move everything over from a different side of the mountain. Just super impressive logistically. Good snow and fun venue, too.
fs.net: Two wins out of three events so far - not a bad way to start off contest season. What's your prediction for the three stops left? Will we see you taking home the "crown" in Verbier?
Drew: Predictions are hard at this point. It definitely feels good to have those two wins, incredible really. But three more events is a lot, and the points are actually quite tight between the top riders. Last year was especially tight when we came down to Verbier, there were like five riders who could have won the world title depending on that final event's results. It will be interesting to see how it shapes up as we get through these next two events before the final.
fs.net: Who could keep you from reaching that goal?
Drew: Anyone and anything really. The thing I keep in mind when I'm competing is that no matter my level of preparation or performance, it seems there are millions of things outside of my control. That means other rider's performance, the weather, the snow the light, the judging, personal health, anything. So I just try to be as ready as possible and accept that in freeride it's all about adapting to those unexpected changes you know are going to come up.
fs.net: You've been competing for almost a decade - did you ever reach a point in your career when skiing lost its attraction due to the pressure that comes with the competition?
Drew: Not really. Freeride competitions just keep getting better. Some people still say "oh those comps are stupid, its just people hucking onto hard snow." But if you've been watching the last couple years, typically we're skiing powder on a sick venue somewhere incredible. That's the norm today, and its hard to get sick of it.
fs.net: Have you ever seriously thought about quitting contests and switching over to filming?
Drew: Nope, not once. But I have thought about quitting skiing and moving somewhere tropical. Having your feet frozen all the time and watching out for avalanches daily can get take its toll.
fs.net: Would you consider the contest scene a necessity in order to make yourself known and subsequently follow other projects that you might envision?
Drew: No, not at all. I have always believed that freeride competition stands on its own. By that I mean I don't see it as a springboard to something else, or a means to some other end. Freeride is a great sport, and that's the end of the story. I know a lot of riders see it differently -- they think they'll come on the tour, have a year or two of good results, and move onto filming or other projects. And that's fine, too.
fs.net: It's kind of hard to put a label on you and your style. You're neither solely focussed on the freeride nor the freestyle aspect. How'd you describe your approach on freeskiing in your on words?
Drew: I like big airs with good landings, a variety of turn shapes, and quality snow. My approach to freeriding is to look at a venue and find a line that lets me incorporate as much of those things as possible. Its also really important to not worry too much about a judging criteria or a camera angle, but to concentrate on riding something that is inspiring on a personal level, something I would want to ride if it was just me and some friends. That typically creates a special run.
fs.net: Would you consider your versatility the reason for your success?
Drew: Yeah, but its not something I focus on -- its just skiing. I hear a lot of kids these day say that they're just skiers. They're not park riders, freeriders, or alpine racers. Hearing that makes me really stoked.
fs.net: Do you think there's a future for those riders that exclusively stick to one of both styles? Just speaking of Freeride World Tour podiums right here...
Drew: I hope there will always be a spot for any kind of riding style on a Freeride World Tour podium. This greatly depends on the kind of venues that are selected -- the terrain each venue contains benefits different riding styles based on the options it offers. I think the FWT does a good job of having a balance, from the super gnarly, technical terrain like Verbier, to the more playful stuff like in Courmayeur.
fs.net: You won the Freeskiing World Tour, finished 2nd in the overall ranking of last year's Freeride World Tour and now your're the current leader of the unified Freeride World Tour. So you must have gotten quite an impression of how things developed over the past years. Are we moving in the right direction? And where do you still see potential improvements that need to be made in order for the sport as well as the tour to keep on progressing?
Drew: We're definitely on the right track. My wishlist would consist of a world final in Haines, Alaska. Helicopters, ten riders, jam format, best run of three, winner takes $100,000.
fs.net: Having met you in person, you seem to be quite a pleasent guy to be around - how does that character trait conflict with your ambitions to be on the top spot of the podium? Where do you draw the line between "friend" and "competitor"?
Drew: Freeride is such an individualistic sport, I find it quite easy to keep the two separate. When you're in the starting gate everything else is blocked out and all you need to focus on is your run. Actually, I think that's one of the best things about freeride – its almost impossible to perfectly execute a run as you imagine it. I'd even go so far as to say that a perfect run might be a bigger goal for me than the world title. If I get to the bottom and say to myself, "Damn, that was exactly what I envisioned and I nailed it." I might just quit right then.
fs.net: Allright Drew, let's hope you'll just get really, really close to that perfect rund, so we can watch you throwing down at the tour for some more years. Thank you for your time!
Drew: Thank you!