Steamboat extreme skier dreams of making it big
March 28, 2010
Steamboat Springs — It was a powder day, but only by the sad standards of the winter of 2009-10.
"Dust and crust," Kerry Lofy said, chuckling the way 147-day skiers tend to do at similar and equally cliché sayings.
Lofy said cold days don't stop him and warm days don't, either, that rain hasn't and ice hasn't, and true to his word, he didn't blink at questionable conditions Friday.
"We can make this work," he said about the 2 inches of fresh snow that covered a hard spring shell.
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"Making it work" has been what this winter has been about for Lofy. He dreams big, of a spot in Warren Miller movies and of sponsorships. He dreams of making it in professional skiing by way of Glen Plake, not Bode Miller.
Lofy said he never gets tired of skiing, and he's quick to apply a wild and fun-first attitude to everything on and off the snow.
He competed in a recent Town Challenge slalom event on a monoski.
"That was tough," he said, "but a whole lot of fun."
Google search the skier, now in Steamboat four years, and the first three returns relate to on-snow accomplishments, including a story about hucking Hell's Wall in the Steamboat backcountry and a link to a short video clip from the ski film he made last year.
The next returns are about how the now-23-year-old was suspended in high school for "dancing dirty" in a dress he thought would be funny to wear to his senior prom.
He wore a duct tape suit the year before.
He worked as a male dancer to save up money to move to Colorado after graduating from high school in Wisconsin, and on a trip to Las Vegas early last week, he tried to apply for a summer job with the Chippendales.
"They told me they weren't having tryouts and to come back when I cut my hair and shaved," Lofy said, laughing yet again.
2-inch powder day
But it's in skiing that Lofy craves a future, and it's in Steamboat's unheralded backcountry that he's trying to carve one out.
On Friday, making it work meant finding a way to turn 2 inches of powder into good photos.
That work has involved soaking up as many tips as possible from local powderhounds and skiing photographers.
"Aryeh Copa's been working with me a lot about digging my tips in to throw powder up," Lofy said. "It's a lot more work. He's trying to teach me the technique. We study photos. He tries to get me to have pole up higher and to get skis into the snow."
On Friday he cut through a snowfield in front of Hell's Wall in Fish Creek Canyon — mercifully the fresh powder there was a little deeper than 2 inches — and tried to make it look like he was skiing the steepest and the deepest.
"I'm not really that good at the tips thing yet," he said, after skidding to a stop after one photo pass.
Lofy said when he first tiptoed through the out-of-bounds gates in Steamboat, he was lost and alone. Now, after daily circuits, he's one of the most accomplished who still regularly assault Fish Creek Canyon, plenty aware of where fresh turns might wait and where a good photo can be had.
"I love getting out here with some friends, no hurry, with a camera or video camera and getting some shots," he said, traversing through an untouched patch of snow Friday.
Finding a way
Lofy has become a regular at fall's annual Steamboat Mountain Film Festival. He sends pictures and video clips to his sponsors and travels to trade shows throughout the region to network to try to land new sponsorships and offer a hand to those he's already signed up with.
"Just earlier this winter, I went to Winter Park, and me and a couple other guys mounted 150 pairs of skis for a sponsor," he said. "There are other guys trying to do this here, but I think I'm working harder than they are. Sometimes they come out and complain about the snow or the weather and want to go in to the bar, but I like to get out here every day.
"I'm trying something new this year. I'm not counting the days I ski. I'm counting the days I don't. I'm at 10."
His drive to make it big isn't just about videos and photos, though. For the second consecutive season, he's hit up freeskiing competitions throughout the region.
That's been an exercise in frustration — it's a judged sport, and Lofy hasn't found a consistent way to wow the judges — but it has led to some great stories.
"I was competing in Aspen, and I skied the winning line from the year before, but the judges didn't like that," he said. "The final day, I decided to jump a 60 foot (cliff) to a pillow, then another 60 footer. I did it but went right through the pillow and jumped all 120 feet.
"That was cool, but the judges didn't like that either."
He coaches Alpine skiing for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and is hoping to start a big mountain freeride skiing team associated with the club.
"I don't know if we'll get there next year, but we definitely will in the future," he said. "I think there's a lot of interest."
Becoming a local
Lofy is settled in Steamboat, and he never wonders why.
He's alone in that regard.
"People always ask me, if I'm into extreme skiing, why don't I move somewhere else?" he said. "I grew up skiing the Midwest, 200 feet of vertical, then to move here and ski, you just have to find the stuff.
"I am established in the community and have a good job. It would be awesome to move town to Telluride or Crested Butte, but I have everything here."
He bought a one-bedroom condo in town late last year and hopes to become one of the longtime locals tearing up fresh powder after someday buying a home in Stagecoach or North Routt.
He already has the beard for it.
He works as many part-time jobs as he can find but spends most of his time as a ski patroller and snow gun operator at Howelsen Hill.
What the future really holds, short and long term, he's unsure. For now, though, he's going to keep looking for the best powder shot in the backcountry, keep planning stunts and, most importantly, keep making himself laugh while he tries to make it big in skiing.
"I'm living my dream," he said.