By David Schissler
(February 2013) I recently had the pleasure and honor of spending a day at Nashoba Valley, MA with the legendary Wayne Wong. For those of you unfamiliar with Wayne, he’s the father of freestyle skiing, a member of the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame this April (check him out on Wikipedia for an impressive list of his accomplishments). Wayne was creating new ski tricks decades before terrain parks and half-pipes existed! I remember seeing him at Waterville Valley back in the early 70’s for what I believe was the first professional freestyle competition ever. At the time I was in college and seriously into alpine racing. Seeing Wayne and his contemporaries perform flips, helicopters, all manner of aerials, and crushing bumps was ground breaking for the sport and mind blowing for me and my fellow gate runners.
Now living in Reno, Wayne still manages to get 80 days or so on the mountain every year. He’s busy conducting clinics all around the country called “Learn Right from Wong”. Still absolutely identified by his smooth style, trademark white sunglasses, and his “chrome dome” OSBE high gloss silver helmet with visor, he never fails to draw attention from admirers. Ever gracious, Wayne always has time to chat with his fans and pass along a tip or two.
Of course, Wayne is a fan of the Winter X Games in Aspen. When I asked him what he thought of how freestyle has progressed he told me “Never in my wildest dreams did I think freestyle would get to where it is today. The size of the jumps and the amount of air they get is unbelievable. I sometimes wonder, who signed the insurance waiver for this?”
When not conducting clinics Wayne is consulting with Anton Skis, a Connecticut based manufacturer in its third year of product development. The ski has the now familiar “shaped” side cut, but is set apart by the single filament fiberglass springs extending from boot toe to just short of the shovel and from boot heel to just short of the tail www.antongliders.com. Wayne says this device is set to achieve 12.5 lbs of pressure on the ski creating a consistent flex pattern regardless of terrain variations, making for a smooth ride. My readers know I’m not a big fan of rocker ski technology (in my opinion a true case of less is better). I asked Wayne his opinion on the technology and I admit I was pleased and amused that a ski pro of his caliber echoed my feelings. “Good for deep or soft snow but not really for groomed or eastern conditions”.
On a personal note I have to thank Wayne for his time and courtesy. He spent nearly six hours with a small group of ski writers providing tips, drills and encouragement all day. Also, many thanks to Pam Fletcher, former US Ski Team member and 1988 Olympian, for inviting my wife Ann and me to Nashoba Valley to ski with Wayne. It was a day we’ll never forget. For a sample of Wayne’s style check out this Nashoba video. If you get the chance to ski with him, take it!