Lifts may be shutting down, but no one told Brooks Curran. Or, at least, he’s not trying to hear it.
For the last few years, the Vermont-based pro has made a name for himself when the goods go bad, connecting lines of patchy snow, grass, rock, and even water to put down some of the most creative skiing on the Internet.
The 26-year-old grew up racing around Mad River Valley, VT but took to freeskiing in college. Since, he’s used his pedigree to celebrate the diehard mentality of East Coast skiing, seeking out thin ribbons of snow–both on piste and off—long after most skiers have thrown in the proverbial towel. In the process, he’s helping us rediscover what’s possible on skis, and that sometimes getting a little dirty is more fun than hanging ‘em up for the summertime.
The Ski Journal: Where did this idea of ribbon harvesting come from?
I was driving up through Smuggler’s Notch, VT a couple of years ago after it opened for the spring and it was just that fine line between not having massive ice hanging over your head and not having snow, and I saw a few lines in. I parked, and walked right up the Notch with my skis to try it.
What’s it like skiing such a thin strip of snow?
It’s a little more exciting than your everyday. The line really defines where you have to ski, it’s precise. You get into something like that and you don’t think about it, but when you look back at it, you realize you had maybe a half inch between the length of your ski and the edge of the snow on either side, so it’s not much.
How’d you get into it?
Growing up on the East Coast, we always skied grass in the spring. It’s fun, you connect little snow patches in between and just remember to avoid rocks and dirt at all costs. It’s a challenge and it gets scary quickly. Grass is good.
Mad River Glen had a long season one year, and the bumps never really softened up. The snow was bad, but we figured out that the grass was pretty edgeable and sweet. It kind of took off from there.
Grass is good?
Grass skis better than West Coast spring snow. On the West Coast, you have a half hour window to ski in the spring—the top is hard, then you get a few corn turns and then it gets grabby.
In general, the East Coast gets a couple of good months of sweet spring skiing. I’d say that’s some of our best snow of the season, some of our best turns.
How does your equipment hold up?
I haven’t had to wax my skis all year. On the East Coast you can pretty much hit stuff all day—everything is rounded off. In a place like Jackson where the snow has no density and everything underneath is jagged, that’s where you’re going to have a hard time sliding downhill.
Are there other people out doing this with you?
Every few years, I convince someone to come along with me.
This whole thing actually started that day at Mad River Glen, when we started skiing down streams. The snow was so bad we had to find something else to do, so we started skiing down streams in the woods and it actually worked pretty well.
We filmed it and put it on Instagram and it kind of blew up.
You’re a pro skier in your own right, but this kind of skiing has kind of gained a following.
Yeah, now there’s a lot of people posting similar types of videos and tagging me in them. It’s kind of a weird thing to be known for.
Why is there something uniquely East Coast about squeezing out every last drop of ski season?
This kind of skiing only happens when it’s really bad. We might not have the conditions all the time, but I think East Coast skiers are always thinking about the possibilities of skiing—whether it’s with snow or without.