The Pied Piper of Terrain Park Grommets
Compared to many of his contemporaries, Kulkea athlete Andy Parry was introduced to skiing relatively late in life. Born in Buffalo, NY, Parry grew up 80 miles east in Victor, and was 14 years old when he took his first turns at Bristol Mountain.
“I went a few times that year, and the next year got a night pass, and joined the school ski club,” said the 33-year-old founder of the Tell A Friend Tour. “During my second year of skiing I started to try jumps, and stuff like that.
“I think the freedom (that skiing offers) really drew me in.,” said Parry. “There’s something primal about being able fly down the side of mountain that’s really attractive. I think that makes up part of the ‘fun’ for me.”
Things clicked quickly for Parry. He never really got into snowboarding (“But my friends and I would trade every once and a while.”) or racing gates. It was the terrain park that called its siren’s song to Parry, early and often.
“Rails are definitely my thing, mainly weird and different grinds that helped me stick out,” he said. “It was out of necessity, because I was getting hurt too often trying the biggest spin, or a urban rail I had no business hitting.
“I figured small and creative was the way to go if everyone else was going for big and gnarly,” said Parry. “If you’re not the best, be different.”
Parry was different enough, and good enough, to do something most skiers only dream about – traveling the world and make a living on the slopes. Early on, he was influenced by Canadian Dave Crichton – “Probably my all-time favorite skier.” – and the Line Skis team, which he eventually helped to create the Line Traveling Circus.
At the urging of high school friends Parry and Will Wesson, Line launched the Traveling Circus. The project was envisioned as a counterpoint to big-budget ski films and online webisodes, documenting the adventures (and misadventures) of professional skiers both on and off local hills. The series epitomizes the “ski bum lifestyle” and the ultimate quest for snow, eventually expanding from North America locations to include European resorts.
“My biggest achievement is being a ‘pro’ skier without ever doing a double,” said Parry, laughing. “At a time when it’s common to see 15-year-olds doing dub 12s after three years of park riding, I think it’s an achievement that I’m still relevant.”
Film, and video, of course, can help make anyone a star, and keep them relevant. Parry was and is a fan of ski films, studying them as a teenager.
“Filming was a big part of my progression as a skier,” he said. “We use to watch old Poor Boyz and Level 1 movies, and then want to go out and try the stuff they did.
“In the end, I think those really helped push our group of skiers, because we wanted to be just like the skier in those movies,” said Parry.
Soon, Parry was showcasing his evolving skill set in similar movies and videos.
“I filmed with Meathead films for a few years, and started Line Traveling Circus in 2008,” he said. “The Tell A Friend Tour came about three or four years after we started Traveling Circus.
“The Tell A Friend Tour was created out of a need,” said Parry. “Skiing at one point had no demo-style tours, no events that were just about having fun and progressing your skiing with a group of like-minded people. If I wasn’t going to do it, no one would.”
Parry now calls Portland, Oregon, home, and Timberline his home mountain. But in reality, he spends a considerable amount of his time on the road with the Tell A Friend Tour, which annually kicks off right after New Year’s Day. The cross-country tour, he said, is the perfect vehicle to give back to the sport.
“If you get kids stoked on skiing, hopefully they’ll keep skiing, and make it part of their lives,” said. “They’ll in turn make it part of their kids’ lives at some point. That’s good for everyone.”
There’s little question that skiing is a part of Parry’s DNA. As much as he loves the park, he’s not a one-trick pony. If there’s snow, and an incline, he’s good to go.
“I like skiing powder over anything else,” he said. “I think any skier or snowboarder would say that.
“It just sucks that you need to be in the right place at the right time to get a good powder day,” said Parry. “I also spend two months out of my ski season in the East Coast and Midwest, so my pow days are really limited.”
Parry’s loss is a big gain for young freestylers. He’s often referred to as the Pied Piper of terrain park grommets, and the tour is clearly a labor of love. It also gives Parry, who readily admits he has “no idea” what he’ll be doing once his professional ski career concludes, a clear sense of purpose.
“Every year I say, ‘This is it. Company X bailed, or I lost X sponsor,’” said Parry. “But here I am, planning on traveling 15,000 miles in a van going to two dozen ski resorts to hang out with the future generation of freeskiers.”
Image Credit: Ethan Stone