Last week, news spread through the backcountry ski community that Greg Hill had signed on with Salomon Freeski. Of course athletes switch teams all of the time--it’s part of the business—but this transition caught people off guard. Was Hill, the man who put himself on the radar by climbing and skiing 2 million feet in a single year, actually giving up the super lightweight Dynafit touring binding?
We decided to go beyond the Press Release and catch up with Hill via telephone machine as he was driving back from his job cruising timber, outside Revelstoke, BC.
People are acting like your shift from Dynafit to Salomon is a really big deal. What’s your take on it?
It’s a sign of the times; that backcountry skiing is that big…I think it’s really amazing. And for me to have spent that long just going for it, shredding myself apart and being able to invest those years of knowledge into this is just great. It’s going to be really fun.
One of the things that I was excited about with Salomon is how much input they take from their athletes and how much involvement the athletes have. They try all the boots on the market and then they try to beat all of them. It’s a really cool process.
So, the buzz in the internet chat rooms is that you’ve given up ski touring to go strictly urban…is this true?
Haha…nope. This is a real big shift for Salomon though in that they’re realizing where their roots are and they’re getting back to them. It’s a pretty big move.
Was there any bad blood with Dynafit?
No. I mean they understood that it was obviously a really hard decision for me, but they also understood that they’re sort of the minors and that Salomon’s one of the major players. It’s an evolution.
And Salomon just released The Guardian last year right? What kind of binding is that, you know, for a snowboarder like me who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about?
Haha. Well the Guardian is a burlier touring binding. It has a better din and better releases. It’s made for the descent and has a solid walk mode.
Hmmm, so it’s not really the kind of gear that would allow to have the huge days that you’re known for…
A lot of people would be happy if I was trying to do 10,000’ days on those. They might keep up. Haha.
I guess what everyone’s wondering is whether or not there’s some super secret binding that’s gonna be unveiled next year.
Ummmm…it won’t be next year. It’ll take us a few years to develop things because we just want to make sure they’re great, and ummmm, I cant really say too much on that.
What, aside from everything that’s going on business wise, are some of your goals for this year? Do you have any more benchmarks or anything?
I’m not sure exactly what the next benchmark is. I mean, I’m never gonna try to beat 2 million, I’ll tell you that. My body wouldn’t let me and neither would my wife.
But there’s lots of exploring to do; that’s one of the great things with Salomon is that they do some amazing trips with Freeski TV and there are a lot more options for world wide travel.
And can you see the move from Dynafit to Salomon affecting your skiing at all, and giving you a new direction?
Well, last winter after the 2 mill, I was just basically skiing a bunch and I felt like I was really redefining the way that I was skiing, trying to charge a lot faster and all of a sudden I was just keen on going recklessly fast.
So, you’re transitioning from the up to the down?
Almost transitioning back to wanting more of the down, you know, I’ve done a hell of a lot of the up, let’s make sure that the down’s really good. I mean, the down is what we do it for.
Yeah it is, soooo next stop is the winter X-games?
Yeah (haha), FWT baby…watch out Drew Tabke, here I come.
Well, you’re still on the record here buddy…you gotta back this up.
You never said that this was on the record…
Yep, as soon as I went to speakerphone…..you’re f*%ed.
Anyways….. family’s good?
Yep, they both just finished grade one and kindergarten.
Charlie and Aiden, right?
Yeah, it’s funny if you read the press release, they put one child. I was like “what?”
Yeah I saw that they blew that. Well, the hard-hitting journalism of biglines.com will get it all right…Greg Hill has two kids.
Haha, right…Anyways, definitely at this point in my career to be able to jump on with such a big company is really exciting. I’ve been climbing and shredding mountains for years and I’m a professional skier at 36, so it’s just fun.
I guess I really pulled the wool over somebody’s eyes mewhahaha! No, no, no, I’m just kidding.
And…how’s your body holding up?
Good, I mean it definitely took a bit to recover from the 2 mill, motivation and physically. There were definitely a few things that were feeling a bit tight and I was a little worried that they weren’t going to go away. But no, I feel great…stronger than ever really. And I’ve been trying to bring back the rock climbing because a lot of our objectives are more ski mountaineering and there is a lot more climbing involved.
And that’s something you haven’t been doing for the last few years?
No not all, not for 12 years. My shoulder was dislocating and now finally, after surgery. I can trust it again.
Nice. Anything else you wanna add?
I guess it’s worth saying that this is a multi year deal; I signed a three-year contract. It’s not just a one-year flash in the pan thing. I really want to develop the relationship and make it a long-term friendship where we make innovative steps in the backcountry.
Read the Press Release here if you're so inclined: http://biglines.com/articles/salomon-freeski-signs-leading-ski-mountaineer-greg-hill