“I figured the best way to let people know I’m alive is to ski,” says Simon Dumont. The 33-year-old from Bethel, Maine made his X Games debut at 14, holds nine X Games medals, a world-record quarterpipe air, and is revered for his iconic video parts like “Slumdog Illionaire” and “JOSS 2009-Team America.”
But over the last half decade, injuries have taken their toll. Eight surgeries in three years followed by a torn ACL during qualifiers for the 2014 Olympics seemed like the end of the line for a ski career cut short.
Still, Dumont is never one to completely count out. He’s recently returned alongside Tom Wallisch in “Resurrection,” a hype-fueled park edit with style symbolic of the early 2000s when Dumont was on top of the game.
“Wallisch has been skiing the entire time I’ve been practicing [my own kind of] social distancing for the past five years,” jokes Dumont. Being back in the park with Wallisch (along with a healthy dose of playful T Wall ribbing) helped push Dumont to dig back into his bag-of-tricks, and even locking in a few new ones, like a front 3 swap.
Despite spending more time playing competitive beach volleyball in Miami than in the mountains recently, Dumont’s skiing prowess (and those classic Oakley pants) returned during his first jump session back. The performance in “Resurrection” shows he never really lost it, especially considering he only skied seven days at Park City this year before the resort was forced to suspend operations due to COVID-19 health concerns.
“I put #SponsorMe on all my Instagram posts, because I find it hilarious that I was at the top and now I’m just a recreational skier,” says Dumont. “What we did the other day filming this edit was why I liked skiing [in the first place]. Where I got to at the end of my career, skiing became work for me. I let the work overtake the fun. I was willing to sacrifice everything for skiing: girlfriends, family and happiness, and I just eventually got so burnt out.”
For years, Dumont stepped away from skiing, attempting to piece together the pieces of his life he felt had fallen by the wayside.
“When I think back on those old videos, it’s hard for me to even recognize the person that was achieving those things, because I had to fully redefine and reestablish who I was,” says Dumont. “Once I’d come out of that kind of dark place that I was in, this transformation ensued.”
In regards to the strong emphasis on afterbang and O.G. style in “Resurrection,” Dumont referenced Henrik Harlaut’s analogy of filming and music: Contest skiing is like a live performance, but filming, with the idea that you can perfect every little component, is like a complete album. With constant competitions, Dumont’s emphasis was often to just put down a run, but with “Resurrection” he was critical of his own shots, pointing out hand waves and little details gone awry. Dumont’s approach is a refreshing look back on a time when style was king, and large spins were overshadowed by landing a trick like you never left the ground.
Dumont says the progression in freesking has gotten insane—the talent has expanded, and the sport has gotten way gnarlier in general. He also thinks that there are more athletes and significantly less money, and feels lucky to have competed in the sport’s Golden Era.
While it’s clear he’s still got the skills on snow, in many ways Dumont has redefined himself off of it—learning new crafts and linking up with the sports’ pioneers. Now he’s decided to share some of his stories and unique perspective through his new podcast, “Ascension.” The podcast debuted earlier this season, focusing on outstanding action sports athletes and what makes them tick—how they psychologically overcome injuries, set goals, and make incremental changes to get exponential results. The podcast revolves around athletes like Wallisch, TJ Schiller, Bobby Brown, and Colby Stevenson, discussing how they motivate themselves to perform at the highest level.
Dumont still has an itch to film a full segment, but only if he’s helping push the boundaries. Nothing is in the works yet, but that same drive that put him on top of skiing has never been able to sit still for long.