Markus Eder Interview | We Talk And Ski With The 2019 Freeride World Tour Winner

How stomping trick after trick in the terrain park helped bring him to the top of the freeride podium

With fellow big mountain skier Kristoffer Turndell hot on his heels for the overall crowning of the the Freeride World Tour title, Markus Eder was going into the final of the tour in Verbier not knowing if he was going to get his hands on the title or not.

However, with Kristoffer only managing to place second amongst the formidable Verbier stage that cuts its way down the legendary face of the Bec des Rosses, Markus was dropping into his final Freeride World Tour line of the season knowing that he would get to the bottom and be crowned the 2019 winner.

“Now I shit my pants skiing big jumps in the park”

Raised in Luttach, on the mountainous border between Italy and Austria, Markus has essentially been living on a pair of skis since the age of four. From a young age, he began progressing his skiing down the traditional pathway of downhill ski racing.

However, this path didn’t last too long. At the age of 14, Markus soon got caught up amongst the more free and progressive discipline of slopestyle. This is where teenage-Markus could show his flair and creativity amongst the terrain parks around the world.

Photo: Jordan Tiernan

It was during the 2010 Nine Knights though where Markus really exploded onto the scene, at the age of just 19, storming into the competition as a rookie and taking the title after landing a Doublecork 1260.

A week before his crowning run in Verbier. We met Markus whilst out with The North Face in the Alpes d’Huez, where he found time for us between competitions in what must have been a pretty full-on few days. We chatted about Markus’s merging of a solid freestyle background with the freeride scene, and even managed to ride a few top to bottom laps of Alpes d’Huez with the new champion. Not a bad day at the office, to be honest.

Photo: Jordan Tiernan
Photo: Jordan Tiernan
Photo: Jordan Tiernan

Markus brings a special flair and creativity into the FWT, with an extremely playful style. “I like the style of slopestyle skiing. It comes from doing the tricks so many times. Doing 20 laps in the park per day gives you the confidence in your riding and in the air,” he tells us.

“People think I’m crazy, but I’m always thoughtful about what I do”

I could certainly see that confidence when ripping about Alpes d’Huez with Markus amongst some of the hidden couloirs and cliffs that cut below the gondola lines.

The visibility was terrible, with snow falling by the bucket load. However, this didn’t slow Markus at all. He seemingly floated down the couloirs and over the cliffs with a confidence rarely seen. When asked where this confidence to ski fast amongst the terrible visibility came from, Markus let onto his secrets:

“My first year on the tour was 2013 and back then I did like one year of riding pow in between slopestyle competitions. I was a shit skier as soon as the conditions got bad. I used to ride pow when it was perfect and when it was not perfect, I went to the park.”

Photo: Jordan Tiernan

“Before last year’s FWT, I just skied shitty snow. Skiing top to bottom runs super fast and because I never enjoyed it when I sucked at it, but then I got better and it’s so cool when you can go fast in shit terrain and you’re confident.”

This isn’t, it’s worth pointing out, some sort of made-up confidence in his own riding. You can tell when you speak to him that Markus is switched onto the safety aspect of skiing off-piste terrain.

“We want to make something cool, something sick, enjoyable to watch”

“I think the knowledge about how to move in the backcountry and how fast something can go wrong I got from filming with the MSP (Match Stick Production) crew, [people] like Mark Abma. They’re all super careful when something is just not right.

“All the videos that go online from us, sponsors want to have many views, we want to have many views too, we want to make something cool, something sick, enjoyable to watch. As soon as it’s about avalanche safety, people get bored because it’s hard to know how much effort it actually takes to be safe.

Photo: Jordan Tiernan
Photo: Jordan Tiernan
Photo: Jordan Tiernan

“People just think ‘okay I have a transceiver, I can find everyone, I’m safe’. But unless you do your first, second and third avalanche training every year, then you start to realise how much can actually go wrong and how quick something can go wrong.

“People think I’m crazy, but I’m always thoughtful about what I do. Even if it’s in the summer, jumping off a cliff. I’m never the guy that just goes up and jumps. I always wanna see somebody else jump, I wanna be safe in everything I do.”

2014 was the pivotal year for Markus to make the shift from slopestyle to freeride, where he landed himself a place on the Match Stick Production film ‘Days of My Youth’. This was the same year where he competed in the slopestyle event in the Sochi Olympics.

Getting the balance between slopestyle and freeride right was tricky for Markus, so he found his confidence by focusing on one discipline at a time.

“When I was training for the Olympics, slopestyle was what I did the most, so that’s where I felt comfortable. Right now I only feel comfortable on rails in the park, I love to ski rails so much. On the jumps I get pretty nervous, even just doing a straight air.

“Now I shit my pants skiing big jumps in the park. To do things like corks and the first dub 10 of the season is always a bit scary when you’re used to soft freeride landings all year long”

Markus wasn’t the first to bring a playful style into the FWT and he certainly won’t be the last. Markus believes that winning the tour will come to those with the versatility to mix it up in the big mountain environment of the Freeride World Tour.

Photo: Jordan Tiernan

“The winning run is almost never just the freeride or freestyle guy, it now always has to be a mixture, like you have to be a good skier and you have to be able to go big and do tricks.

“We’re on a good path and it depends on the generations to come, like the kids who are going through the Freeride World Qualifiers. If they have good tricks and can ski well. Sometimes the combination is missing a little bit.”

We’re looking forward to seeing what the next batch of youth talent start bringing to the Freeride World Tour, especially with role models such as Markus to look up to. Whatever tomorrow delivers though, one thing’s for sure; Markus has carved his playful style into the history of the FWT, reminding us that the beauty of the sport lies in the fact that anyone can bring their own flavour and creativity to the table. Exciting times ahead, for sure.

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