Dane Tudor's Path From Australia To Shredding Big Mountain Lines

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Dane charging a big line while filming for Paradise Waits in Alaska. TGR photo

Dane was born mere hours after his Mom’s flight touched down on Australian soil. Dane’s Mom, Kristine, didn’t have medical coverage in her adopted home of Alaska and had opted to beat a transcontinental path back to her family and home in Oz. Her water broke mid-air somewhere over the ocean, the adventure-filled life of Dane Tudor about to begin, three weeks early and predictably unpredictable.

Kristine returned to Alaska with toddler Dane in tow, the wide-eyed carrot-top packed along on snowshoe, cross-country and hiking trips.

At two he was put on skis for the first time and hasn’t looked back since. Seriously. He’s all about the fall-line and race to the bottom.

Dane was only three years old when his father passed away. Made a single-mother overnight, Kristine was faced with some difficult decisions. An adventurer herself, though, she was more than up to the challenge, her preceding passport blanketed with stamps and visas from around the world; this turn of events was just another new country, uncharted territory that she would traverse and navigate gracefully.

Dane’s experience of the world and his place in it demanded much of Kristine’s focus. Not in a creepy show-biz parent kind of way, rather, Dane would be encouraged to plot his own course. Principally home-schooled, he would have ample time to explore his surroundings and discover his own interests. Put simply, he would have all the space and freedom a kid could hope for.

Moving between a small home in Alaska and a small mountain town in Canada, Kristine reconnected with old friends at Red Mountain, Rossland, and Dane quickly grew into a force on the ski-hill. Depending on your perspective, he was blessed or cursed with a surplus of energy, old-timers remembering Dane as both prodigy and menace.

As is the standard in most ski towns, the spunky adolescent turned into a ballsy, sass-mouthed teenager. The Red mountain veterans that had marveled at gates-bashing-Dane were floored by the park-ratting shenanigans he was now out to master, speed-suits abandoned for baggy pants, smart-alecky comments, and ducking ropes. Along with a crew of similarly talented skiers, Dane cut a swath through early 2000’s Red Mountain stodginess.

Dane floats a flat spin while filming for Paradise Waits in Golden B.C.

The rest, as they say, is history. Years of filming and producing powerful segments with Poorboyz, venturing deeper into AK, Japan, the continental US and, of course, honing his skills at Red Mountain saw Dane win awards and accolades from his peers. A young man now with sponsorships enabling him to get after the goods, a hectic schedule and his own personal drive towards constant progression landed him in hot water. Or at least in Emergency.

A serious hip injury and the road back to the top was difficult, but the recently minted mountain-man Dane remains un-swayed, recognizes that he has come back stronger in mind and body; that injury is old news. Just the other day I caught up with Dane and chatted about everything from mountain safety, injuries and go-to pow lines over coffees in downtown Rossland.

Being flat and out of skiing can put you in a bad place. Now that you’re back at it, do you find yourself second-guessing yourself or playing head-games?

It was my biggest injury for sure and for three months there was a lot of couch time. That was a lot of time to feel like I was going crazy, wondering if I’d ever be able to ride how I did before. Wondering what your life is going to be like. And just realizing how life-altering these injuries can be. I definitely went through some ups and downs, pretty dark times for sure. But I continued to stay positive and training is definitely the best bet for a positive mental outlook. That way you can feel and see your improvements, but yeah it was tough for sure. You can definitely fall in a hole.

What would you say or suggest to people looking down the barrel of an injury like that?

Dane rips through pow in the trees. TGR photo

It’s a day to day thing, you have to take it one day at a time, keep healing, improving, doing physio and surrounding yourself with people that are positive. Stay focused on recovering strong and continuing on a program. And once you are strong maintain that strength.

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Having a place where family is must be a help.

Yeah, so being able to come home, my mom was here for the winter so she looked after me, was cooking super good food, making food that actually helped with my recovery, that was great, and all my friends around town are awesome, I could visit them… it’s just nice to be at home, to have a home when you’re recovering from an injury. That family support system.

Growing up here (in Rossland), what are some of the advantages you might not have had elsewhere?

Riding at Red Mountain. It’s an amazing ski-hill, we have Granite and Red. Both are cone-shaped mountains so we have 360 degrees of riding off both mountains, which I love. We have amazing tree skiing with tons of pillows, super steep terrain which is great, so it really improved my technical ability as a skier and that helped me transition to bigger mountains, skiing bigger lines. And Red Mountain Racers, Nancy Greene, I was with that program ‘til I was sixteen, that helped a pile, too. And the people here are great, the town is small so the mountain never gets too busy. We’ve got great bike trails all over town, hiking trails, and just a good outdoor scene.

Do you still have go-to lines on a powder day at Red?

My favorite line on a powder day is Link’s Line! (Laughs)

(note: Link’s Line is right under Motherlode Chair. Such a showboat!)

Dane spins a beautiful cork even in the B.C. backcountry. TGR photo

(contd.)- Not only do I love hearing everyone hootin’ and hollerin’, but it’s such a great run, lots of airs on it and they’ve cleaned out a lot of the trees, brushed it out. That’s created some new lines, pillows. I grew up riding that line for sure.

Now, in terms of your nationality, you were born in Australia?

Yeah, I was born in Sydney, Darlinghurst, a big suburb I guess. Moved to Alaska when I was two. We spent the winters in BC, summers in Alaska. My mom had done a lot of traveling when she was younger, skiing, so she was in New Zealand, Kashmir, Canada, then went to Alaska. Found Rossland as well along the way, so we ended up in both Rossland and AK, too.

So what passport are you carrying? Not to sound like immigration-guy…

I carry an Australian and an American passport.

What are some of the differences between the ‘States and Canada? What are the best aspects of each?

Honestly, I really love Canada and I’d like to spend more time here. The ‘States are amazing too, and Alaska is an unbelievable place. The mountains are huge, the valleys are lush and flat- You wouldn’t think so, you might just think it’s all mountains, but the valleys are wide and every time I go home to Alaska I’m just blown away by how enormous it is. The peaks, the scale. I actually have a tattoo of the mountain right outside our house. It’s called Pioneer Peak. It just rises from the valley floor straight up, huge, right off the riverbed, jagged. I’d like to ski it someday but my ability level isn’t really there yet.

On that note, there have been some high profile fatalities the last couple of years. People are talking about safety a lot, decision-making, and a lot of brands are getting behind it. What sort of communication do you have with sponsors or with people you ski with? Do you focus more on safety, is there new material being discussed?

Safety and being safe is something I aspire to. It factors into my life, especially in the mountains. There have been a lot of gnarly things happening in the industry lately. We lost some good friends in the past few years. Honestly, skiing along with any other “action sport” is getting super crazy. The level is so high and people are bound to push the limit and do what hasn’t been done yet. That’s amazing and super inspiring, but I think there’s a point where we just have to be comfortable with what we’ve done and what we’re doing and be okay with that. Which doesn’t mean you stop progressing, maybe it just means… yeah, I just think it’s crazy, hiking super steep, big, gnarly faces is crazy. You gotta be on your game and it’s hard to know what’s going to happen hiking up something like that. Things are always falling down. The snow is sluffing, it’s gnarly. The people I ride with are majorly concerned with safety. I work with Teton Gravity Research now, I’ve been with them for two years, I’m really stoked that they take safety seriously. We all join up for the International Pro Riders Workshop at the beginning of every season, that lets all the athletes and filmers, anybody who’s involved in TGR is there, and we do a two or three day course with our Alaska heli guides and some of the Teton mountain guides. It’s amazing, we do a first aid course, a ropes course and an avalanche course. We do scenarios each day as well as a classroom portion before that. We finish up the day by reviewing what went on in each. We do ten hours a day for three days, all of it focused on safety. That way when we go out in the mountains we know that everyone has trained together and we can go confidently out there and know we have eachother’s backs.

I would venture a guess that most people buying the mags, cruising the websites and watching the films don’t know that all of that prep goes on behind the scenes.

Dane sends a massive 360 amidst a blue sky in Golden B.C.

Yeah, the Pro Riders Workshop, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily new, I’m not a hundred percent sure but I want to say it’s been going four to six years now. And it’s getting bigger and bigger every year and we take it pretty seriously. The more that we can push it out there the more the kids get to see it, and I think that’s important. Because they may just see the movies and see all the crazy stuff going on in the mountains but they don’t realize how dangerous it is out there as well. And I’m guilty of that too. When I was eighteen years old and got my first opportunity to go I went in the backcountry and was hucking off cliffs and was thinking, “Oh yeah, I know what I’m doing, I know there’s avalanches, I know how to route find, I have extra gear with me,” but to actually be prepared for a serious accident it’s another story. It’s important to train with people you’re going to ride with. And to practice.

If there was some advice or wisdom you could give to younger Dane, what would it be?

I probably would have listened to my mom. Which I did for sure, to a point, but I obviously thought I had a decent idea of what I was doing. Maybe the advice I would give myself then, and now, too, is to stay humble. I’ve been skiing my whole life and I’ve been in the backcountry now for seven or eight years, and I’ve learned a lot, gained a lot of experience, but I still have a lot more to learn. And I plan to be around a long time in order to learn more. Being humble is important for that.

I see a lot of people deferring to their gear, convincing themselves that if something rips out they can depend on their airbag or whatever else they’re packing.

That’s not a good idea.

(note: at this stage in the interview we were interrupted (politely, but still interrupted) by one of the elderly ladies from the Rossland Thrift Store and Hospital Auxiliary- She wanted to thank Dane for kindly donating some of his old ski gear to the shop, and assured him it would go to someone in need. Gotta love the small towns)

Doing some house cleaning then?

I’m learning now to start getting rid of stuff. Because our basement is getting to the point now where I want some space again and I need to work on my bike and all that. And I’ve consistently done my best to not hoard stuff but there were things I was holding onto like my everyday-Saturday suit. I had a brand new get-up, plus the suit I wore, plus this jacket I cut the sleeves off of to make a vest, so I said, “Okay, I’m getting rid of all the old stuff that I wore, and I’m gonna keep this one nice, fresh suit, and if I ever put it on the wall it’s gonna be a new one. Get rid of all these old hoodies, even though I made them! They gotta go. Now. They’re just sittin’ around.” Sure, I want to have a ski fence someday, but there’s just too many broken skis lying around, it’s time to get rid of those. So with the clothes, not the broken skis, it’s nice to be able to take those to the thrift store and know they get another go around. It helps them, it helps other people and where the money gets donated to is awesome.

When you get a new kit are you still super excited to bust into the box?

Oh yeah, whether it’s biking gear, goggles, ski stuff. That’s the best thing about being with Scott head-to-toe, there’s such a variety of gear and they’ve been at it so long it’s dialed. I’m always super stoked and thankful. It’s an amazing company with great people behind it. And I’ve been doing loads of biking this summer, not chasing the endless winter, been doing tons of pedaling here, filming a piece for Tourism BC, some trail building, just riding.

Parting words?

Like I said, remember to breathe, let it flow and enjoy the ride. Life is for living!

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