Alex Hackel Interview
10.25.2017 Massachusetts, US
Hey Alex, long time no talk. How’s life?
Hey Jason, things are going well. I am currently hanging out at home in Massachusetts taking some college courses and doing some acrylic paintings in my freetime!
What's your season looking like?
The schedule for this season is definitely up in the air. I plan on doing the Olympic qualifying events this year, but due to my mismanagement with my FIS points last season I currently don’t have the minimum required to get a start at a World Cup or Grand Prix. So I have to do a lower level event early in the season and get a good result and that will dictate if I am able to get a spot at the Olympic qualifying events. I am also committed to continuing to put out street footage and work on more film projects.
How much is the qualifying route?
It is hard to give a definitive number on the qualifying route but I think you are looking at something between 10-15K USD.That would be including airfare, food, and lodging for the competitions. There are a couple slopestyle events overseas in Europe and then the rest are spread out on the West Coast of America in Aspen and Mammoth. There’s no doubt that airfare is one of the biggest expenses involved.
How far would that money take you if you weren’t competing?
I would say that if I wasn’t competing the money would definitely go farther because you have more flexibility. Also you don’t have to spend as much on airfare. While I was shooting for "Eat the Guts" we filmed it all on the East Coast and drove everywhere we went. Lodging was also cheaper because it is easier to find affordable Airbnb's in a city area then a remote mountain town with limited options. But filming is not cheap by any means either.
Talk to us about how Olympic years differs from others.
Olympic years are definitely crazy because the FIS points system is how they base your results to qualify for the Olympics. There is a lot more importance on FIS competitions in the season leading up to the Olympic year, along with the actual Olympic year. This is because they want a large sample size of results in order to determine who are the best athletes to represent their countries.
There is generally a more serious vibe as well, because the Olympics only happen every four years, which adds an extra amount of stress. People are definitely pulling out all the stops on an Olympic year.
Talk to us about "Eat the Guts".
"Eat the Guts" is a two year street movie produced by HG Skis. All of us united on our common vision to bring our own take to making this street film. All the dudes at HG definitely have a clear idea for how things should look and what is proper. We wanted to make something that would last.
So after the first year we didn’t just put out a movie to put out a movie, we decided to keep filming until our vision was complete. Because of the dedication and passion of everyone at HG we were able to bring "Eat the Guts" into reality. I am super stoked to be apart of it, It is such an honor to be able to be in a movie with such an amazing group of skiers, filmers, and editors!
What are your goals with street skiing?
I would say my goal in street skiing is always to put out innovative parts. I also want to have longevity and keep putting out film parts for a long time. I feel like street skiing has progressed so rapidly over last 7-8 years. Now more than ever the possibilities in street skiing are endless. Anyone can hit anything and there is no longer a stiff definition of what is deemed to be a shot and filmmaking is so good you are able to do whatever inspires you. If I got the opportunity, I would definitely welcome an X Games Real Street part.
Talk to us about your time at Windells Academy.
I was very fortunate to be able to go to Windells Academy! It definitely played a major role in the progression of my skiing. I was introduced to a lot of pivotal people there. The coaches at the time were Jeff Curry and Mike Hanley! Both of them helped me so much. Jeff had a really good eye for style and individuality. Mike has become one of my closest friendships and it has been fantastic getting to know him and his family. I credit him with a lot of the major breakthroughs I have made in my skiing especially on jumps. He is able to breakdown skiing and tricks in such an amazing way it is hard to describe how positive of an impact he can have! Also at the same time I was surrounded by a lot of incredible skiers at the academy. Being in that atmosphere was awesome!
Who are your five favourite skiers right now?
Top five is definitely hard because of the sheer amount of awesome skiers that are out there right now. Instead of saying top five skiers i will list my top five favorite crews. In no particular order The Bunch, Keeshlife, HG, B&E, and The Big Picture. All those crews are creating such good content and progressing what is possible in skiing and film making.
B&E was for sure my biggest inspiration growing up as a kid, I’ve always loved Henrik and Phil's skiing. What The Bunch has created in our sport is amazing -- those dudes are such visionaries and their movies/edits have changed the way I look at skiing. The same goes for the Keeshlife crew, their movie last year was one of my favorites. The Big Picture webisodes and movie have all been so good! From Parker and Chris’s skiing to the editing, everything’s so on point.
The people I have been skiing with the most the last two years are the HG Skis guys. Cole, Connor, Jerm, Keegan, Frank and Jim are so fun to watch ski and their vision for spots, trick selection, and the vibe of the movie is super inspiring.
You left Volkl to go ride for HG Skis. Can you explain that decision?
I rode for Volkl for a good chunk of time and they treated me well. I have only positive things to say about my time riding for them. I decided to switch because of how special the opportunity to ride for HG Skis is. How often are you able to ride for a company where everyone is a close friend of yours?
I am able to really be apart of the process at HG. It is a really cool feeling to look down at my skis and be stoked to represent a company that I am actively a part of shaping. The opportunity to be involved in the making of "Eat the Guts" is huge. Not only that but I feel like supporting companies such as HG Skis is important. To me I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to be apart of a company that I 100 percent believe in. I think it is really important that as riders and consumers that we support core freeskiing companies and companies that are giving back to freeskiing.
Why is it important to support core companies?
By supporting these companies the money that you spend on their product will go back into skiing. Some of the ways it will go back into freeskiing could come in the form of them developing innovative and better products for freeskiers or by them supporting film projects, skiers, or events that will give back to the ski community. If you see a company that supports what you like to see in skiing go support them! Also the more that we support these companies that are giving back the more we are putting the future of freeskiing in the hands of freeskiers.
What segments inspired you growing up? What are you most excited to see this fall?
Growing up I would say that I watched Henrik Harlaut’s “Refresh” segment an insane amount. I loved it! His style was mind blowing and the skiing was next level! After that I got really into Stept movies. Most of those films were mainly filmed on the East Coast. The Martini brothers grew up two towns over from me in the Boston area. Seeing how amazing the movies they put out were and knowing that it was all happening near where I grew up blew me away. It is hard to name a favorite segment from those movies because all of those guys skiing was so good. But “Mutiny” definitely was game changing to me. The whole movie was so well put together, and Clayton’s segment was the best I had seen at the time.
Then I was on a street trip to Quebec City and I got a glimpse of what would be Magnus Graner’s “Less” segment and it changed the way I looked at skiing. The way that he used his whole ski in that part was out of this world. After I saw that I knew that I wanted to ride a pair of skis differently then from what I had been doing. That is what I love about film parts. If done properly, they are incredibly powerful forms of art. There is just something special when you see the look in the eye of someone that you can tell is giving their absolute all to their craft.
The movie that I am most excited to see this fall is hands down “Interpretation” by The Bunch. Not only is their skiing so innovative but Gustav Cavallin’s filming is so good and the combination of Jens Nilsson’s and Gustav’s editing is really special. These guys just are constantly shattering expectations for how skiing and ski film making is suppose to look.
Do you think skiing puts out enough original content?
I think that in general the ski media could create more original content. If you look at how much original content that skateboarding and snowboarding put out it’s amazing. I hope that in the future there will be more companies that see value in creating original content and will get the right people to create it! I think more original content would help progress both the level of skiing and film making in the ski world.
What do you think we can do to make skiing more relatable?
Both competition skiing and film skiing are very important to freeskiing’s success and compliment each other well. In many ways I think that competition skiing is getting so good that it is becoming less and less relatable. That’s why I think that film skiing and other less regimented outlets create more relatability. I believe that the ski community needs to do a better job supporting more film projects and innovative skiers. In doing so I believe that it will only give back and support the culture in freeskiing.
I think skateboarding is a shining example on how important a strong culture is. Skateboarding has transcended just being an activity or sport -- it’s a way of living your life and it’s so powerful that it creates die hard lifelong skateboarders. In order to create such a powerful culture in skiing we need to keep creating innovative film projects and original content! What is freeskiing without those things? Too me if you take away that aspect of freeskiing we lose our culture and become a niche sport. Ultimately creating a strong lifestyle and culture in skiing is what is going to keep skiing relatable and keep skiing alive and well for a long time.
Do you have any words of wisdom for those reading this?
At this moment i don’t have words of deep insights to offer the readers. Thank you SLVSH and Jason for doing the Interview and thank you to everyone reading.