Vuarnet Fellow Tyler Wallasch is a 28-year-old professional skier originally from Mammoth Lakes, California, who now splits his time between Alpine, Wyoming and Åre, Sweden. He is a skicross athlete embarking on his 10th season and a 2022 Olympian.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was actually born on the outskirts of Los Angeles county and before really following my passion for skiing, I spent most weekends in the desert with my dad riding dirt bikes or at the airport while he flew and worked on planes and helicopters. Since moving to Mammoth when I was young I spent most days of the year on snow and in the mountains. I try to balance my time on snow with some time in the water as well. I love to free dive and spear fish, and any day on a lake behind a boat is a good day!
How did you get into ski cross?
I began racing traditional alpine skiing, and always loved watching Ski Cross on TV. I played American football in high school and one of the volunteer coaches, John Teller, happened to be an up and coming American Ski Cross racer. Every practice he was telling me I had to try it! I finally agreed to give it a try that season and I was hooked. That same year, John had his breakout season, winning a World Cup and X Games Gold. So I had a mentor who was one of THE best in the world and lived just a few minutes away from me.
Why ski cross?
I fell in love with Ski Cross the first heat I ran. The adrenaline difference between an alpine start and a ski cross was astronomical. I had three other guys getting ready to go around me. It all went quiet when the starter said, “Riders Ready?… Attention!” And then, bang!, the gate drops and we all fly out and are skiing as fast as possible over jumps, bank turns and rollers... all while trying to outmaneuver, make a pass or keep the others behind! I hadn’t really felt that kind of emotion skiing by myself, going left, right and then left again. NOW I WAS RACING! I was hooked. At my first race I ended up crashing on the fourth turn and going through a layer or two of safety net. I still had so much fun that day! I think what’s kept me motivated for so long in this sport is how much there is to it. You could be the fastest guy in the world at turns, but if you can’t win a start or handle someone skiing a few millimeters away from you, you’re not going to go very far in ski cross. It feels like no matter how much you improve your game, there is always another aspect to improve on!
How do you train physically and mentally for competition?
Physically, a lot of the work happens in the summer. Ski cross is a gravity sport so weight is almost always a benefit. But it has to be usable weight! So the name of the game for me, is as much muscle weight as I can gain, while still staying explosive. On a race day we do five to six runs so it is important to be able to give the maximum effort for just over a minute and then recover as fast as possible to do it again! In the summer I spend a lot of time in the weight room, building explosive strength, stability and the ability to recover quickly. Mostly, I pick up heavy stuff and put it back down a lot.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
My goals for the upcoming season are to be a consistent podium threat. I've had the speed to do it, but in ski cross a little bad luck or a single mistake can go a long way. To have a great day a lot of things have to go right! So my goal is to put myself in a position to capitalize every chance I get for those great days.
What words do you live by?
For many years I've had different quotes printed on my race suits. The last few years all I've had printed was, “Burn the Ships." To me, that means I am all in. I've landed on shore, burned my ship and the only way is forward.
What does Vuarnet represent to you?
Vuarnet represents passion and quality to me. Since I've become a Vuarnet Fellow, I've been lucky enough to hear so many stories about people and their Vuarnet’s. From what I’ve heard every single person STILL has them. They tell me stories of a time or place, the people they were skiing with, or some memory of back then when they were a ski bum! I love it. It makes me excited to wear my Vuarnet’s every day because it almost guarantees someone stops me to ask about mine and tell them about theirs and a ski story or two.