Interview with Chris Davenport
The law of physics: Chris Davenport is a body in motion
A body in motion stays in motion. At least it does if you’re Chris Davenport. The SCARPA athlete is currently on the road keeping up with the professional side of being a career skier. Meetings, appearances, hob-knobbing with politicians, and juggling family responsibilities—it’s not all about clicking into his skis. There’s actual work, of which he’s been doing a lot. From the terminal he was able to squeak in some time to update us of his latest exploits and plans for the coming winter.
You’re as busy as ever. And yet you get to blend family life and work at Portillo each year it seems. It’s a prominent place in your life. Why Portillo?
Fourteen years into my relationship with Portillo, I feel like we have gotten to know each other pretty well. It’s truly a home away from home for me during the dog days of summer here in Colorado. I know the other coaches of the Superstars Camp agree with me when I say it’s one of the trips I look forward to most every year. A month in the Andes allows me to ski with all sorts of amazing people, both in the camp and private clients as well.
My family comes down now every year, and my boys have been lucky enough to experience some incredible skiing and deep storms over the years. I really enjoy the opportunity to work on my own skiing while I’m down there as well, figuring out new ways of doing things with my body position and balance, and developing skills that really take a lifetime to even get close to figuring out. It’s also a great opportunity to test new gear, like the new SCARPA Freedom boot line. But more than anything Portillo gives all of us a chance to share our passion for skiing with each other. My goal at the end of our camp, and at the end of every season in Portillo, is to send people home with the best ski vacation they have ever had.
You’ve had three weeks of QT with the family. How’s your fall taking shape on the road?
I’ve got a crazy fall filled with travel, and it’s actually starting today. I’m writing this blog post in the airport on my way to Washington DC to speak to members of Congress and the Obama Administration about climate change on behalf of Protect Our Winters. After that it’s straight to NYC for a media event with Trimble Outdoors, one of my partners, and then to Alaska to shoot a TV commercial in the Chugach Mountains. Then I’ll be at a new ski shop opening in Maine, followed by eight days filming with Outside Television for their “Outside Today” winter show. And finally a guiding trip to Antarctica takes me right into the third week of November. So yes, it’s kinda busy.
Speaking of the road, do you still find time for your other passion of cycling?
Absolutely. I try and ride my road or mountain bikes every day. I grew up racing and am blessed to have so much great riding out my front door. I love the physical aspects of riding but also it affords me lots of time to think and plan for the future.
It’s hard for people to choose boots that are similar in nature. Can you tell us a little about when to use the Freedom SL, and why?
The Freedom SL is really a go-to boot for everything in skiing, with the exception of alpine racing and rando racing of course. I use it for all my resort skiing and backcountry skiing. I use it for winter ski mountaineering as well. The boot is so light yet has such great stiffness-to-weight ratios that it’s really ideal for a high percentage of consumers.
You also find virtue in the Aliens for touring. Can you speak to that a bit?
I definitely believe in a minimalist approach to backcountry and ski mountaineering. It’s really easy to burden yourself with too much gear and gadgets these days, and more difficult to choose the right gear so as to not carry too much. In the spring, when the snow transforms into spring corn, I find I can move very fast with the Aliens on my feet and still ski that corn snow with confidence and even speed. A few years back I’m not sure I would have seen the possibilities with these ultra light boots, but now I do and I love them. I think the market will continue to move in the direction of lightweight, high-performance boots for the adventure skier.
You’re getting ready to hit up Antarctica for the 4th time. What’s the allure for you to keep going back to a place that’s very difficult to reach?
Skiing in Antarctica represents the spirit of adventure for me. Being so far off the grid, away from all of the distractions of life and business, is so enlightening. Nowhere else on Earth can you ski amongst wildlife like the Antarctic Peninsula, with penguins everywhere, whales breaching near you, and walrus and seals up on the beaches. And the snow is such that you can generally ski very steep terrain safely and with confidence. It’s just such an awe-inspiring place to explore. Plus you are skiing literally at sea level, so you feel superhuman and can climb and tour much faster than we do in the Rockies at high altitudes.
One more thing I love is the open ocean crossing of the Drake Passage. 50-plus hours out on the world’s wildest stretch of ocean is a humbling experience and makes you feel pretty insignificant. Last time we got hammered by 40-foot seas for eighteen hours. It was awesome.