All images: Jeff Urbahn
At 27, Brooke Potter has achieved a lot on skis. Originally a slopestyle park skier—she won gold at the 2015 Winter University Games in Granada, Spain—Potter carved out a unique niche for herself when she released her all-street ski film, ‘Ultraviolence’ that same year. Nowadays, you can catch Potter coaching Team Summit on the front range mountains of Colorado, spinning laps at her home resort, Breckenridge, or, these days, firing up a sled to scope out a new backcountry zone. Always innovating, Potter has continued to be mainstay in the women’s freestyle segment of the industry with creative and literal hard-hitting street segments but now the seasoned vet is taking on a whole new objective.
In her most recent project, ‘Contrast,’ Potter explores both familiar street features and completely unexplored (to her) backcountry zones. This sub four-minute film beautifully captures the contrast between the two environments while intertwining Potter’s skills on both concrete features and waist-deep pow. Directed, filmed, and edited by Potter’s roommate Jeff Urbahn, this ski project is one that certainly raises the bar for multi-faceted ski women and sets the tone for where Potter sees her skiing going in the future. We caught up with the freeskiing phenom to chat about the process of making ‘Contrast’ and what Potter has up her sleeve for the season to come. Keep reading for the full interview.
How are you? How was your off-season?
It was really good! I typically have a mellow off-season with work, so it’s a good time to regroup, relax and take some fun trips. I had a lot of beach time, going on surf trips to El Salvador and Nicaragua and I did an Egypt trip in August. In Egypt I did the typical tour to see all of the historical sites and then did a kite safari, a boat trip where you learn how to kite board. Changing it up a little bit from skiing [laughs].
How did you get into water sports?
I’m based full-time in Breckenridge, Colorado and I’ve pretty much spent my whole life in Colorado but I guess I’ve just always been really drawn to water sports, especially surfing. It’s kind of the perfect compliment to our winter season because you get to go somewhere warm during the off-season and it’s a little bit more low-impact than our ski season.
It’s snowing in Breckenridge, have you started skiing yet?
Yeah, I’m actually going to A-Basin later today for work but we have been pretty much going to A-Basin a few times a week to ski.
What do you do for work when you’re not skiing?
I coach full-time for Team Summit. It keeps me on my skis, which is sweet for a job. It’s funny, as a coach I feel like you end up coaching yourself in a way because you have these breakthroughs where you see what other athletes do and you can kind of apply it to yourself and be out there working on things as well.
You recently released ‘Contrast’ where you ski both urban and backcountry, what was the inspiration? You don’t tend to ski a segment of one woman doing both.
My roommate, who is actually my filmer, and I were brainstorming what to film last season and I have filmed street and feel comfortable getting back into that and I had this draw to backcountry. I’ve never really filmed too much in the backcountry, I did a little bit in Japan a few years ago, but we just started brainstorming and over a few weeks we came up with the concept of doing a 50-50 project. We wanted to create something that is new and different and exciting and so we thought it would be really cool to do a 50-50 project and then we came up with the idea of doing all of the backcountry during the day and then all of the street at night to add a cool visual piece behind the project.
What was the hardest aspect of filming in two very different environments?
I was expecting the backcountry shots to be quicker and less difficult because it just seemed like you go out there and ski powder and it seemed like an easier film dynamic to film out there but I was completely wrong. It was actually way more difficult and you move slowly in the backcountry, especially in new zones. It was definitely interesting to see the street shots come pretty quick. We had a couple issues at some spots but for the most part it was kind of flip-flopped where I had this expectation of the backcountry being a little bit more seamless but that was actually the harder part for me, as a skier.
Anything unexpected come out of filming ‘Contrast’?
I feel like I learned a lot for filming backcountry, specifically. I felt pretty comfortable with my system of getting to a street spot, setting it up and getting it done but with backcountry we had a lot more support in terms of getting more of a crew together and we’d have to really lean on a lot of our friends for gear, like sleds to get out there, or someone who helped guide us to great zones for filming. Originally it was just my filmer and I and throughout the season we realized it takes a village to put together a backcountry segment.
Can you say if you prefer urban or backcountry over the other?
I am honestly split really 50-50. I think a lot of the powder that I skied was physically easier on me [laughs]. I’m 27 now, so sometimes I just feel so beat up the next day [after skiing urban], where eight or nine years ago I could wake up feeling totally fresh the next day. It was nice being out in the backcountry because sledding was physically the most demanding part of all of it. You’re building and shoveling things out but for the most part, I wouldn’t feel quite was worked the next day.
Where do you hope to take your skiing this season?
I’m still really hoping to continue filming. A couple people have reached out this season about maybe linking up and doing some filming but I don’t have anything really specific going into this season. I just want to have a really open mind and see if I’m able to continue to the momentum.
So no official projects in the works yet?
Not yet. We don’t have anything set in stone but I am hoping that as ‘Contrast’ kind of settles and more people see it, it’ll open up some doors. This is the best time, I think, for opportunities to get out there and film, I was really surprised when we reached out to our sponsors and partners for ‘Contrast’ how down everybody was. I didn’t think anyone would want to support a female project and we were just overflowing with support, so I think it’s a great time—especially for women—to get out there and go for it.
What does the perfect ski day look like to you?
I just had so much fun in the backcountry last year, so I would say wake up, get the crew, get out super early, fire up some sleds and get out there to get some really good pow turns. I think we hit a storm last year at Wolf Creek that was over 40 inches, so that would be my perfect ski day again. To have perfect, untouched snow and you’re not fighting people at the resort.
Favorite skin track snack?
That’s a good question. I got really hooked on Snickers bars last year [laughs] they’re the perfect skin track snack. Growing up, I was never into candy bars but now doing something so physically demanding, just having a candy bar on deck is so good!