The Small Man With Big PLans

The first time I saw the Greg Stump Classic Maltese Flamingo, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to throw huge daffys off cliffs and travel the globe with Scott Kennett and Glen Plake. Though others didn’t see it like I did, I thought it was insane not to have that dream, to do what you love on a professional level. Reality would eventually kick in, and I would drop my dream and find a job. Lead Image taken from Intuition add below. Photo Credit: Mark Shapiro.

A few years ago, I saw my dream was reborn. Not in myself, but in a young kid from Rossland who was destroying the Junior Freeski circuit. Simon Hillis has left his action figures and video games for the dream of being a real life ski superhero.

Hillis has been winning the 7-11 age category of jr. freeskiing contests since he was just old enough to compete in them. Last season, at ten years of age, he took a clean-sweep of the tour. His skiing has also attracted eight different sponsors, signing his first contract with K2 at the age of four – half the age of when Sean Pettit signed his.

Last month Hillis landed a full-page add for Intuition Liners in the Freeskier Buyer’s Guide, and rumors are he has a cameo in TGR’s newest flick, Way of Life. He’s dominating the freeskiing tour, getting covers and adds in ski mags, and he has eight sponsors. The question has to be asked: When does this kid get to be a kid?

So I asked him myself. Does he love his life, or is he a victim of Canadian freeskiing child labour, leaving him to the similar demise as other child stars like Macaulay Culkin, or the Olsen Twins? Simon usually speaks with his skis, so sitting down indoors makes him a little shy. But once he opened up, his message became very clear.

“If you play hockey or soccer, it’s pretty competitive. Both teams really want to win. When you’re in a freeskiing contest, it’s really isn’t. It’s more about having fun – it doesn’t really matter who wins.” Big words from a small man. And it shows when you see him being one of the most stoked kid at the contest, high-fiving every competitor who comes through the finish line. But why is he sponsored, and what does he want to do when he grows up?
“When I grow up I want to be just like Sean Pettit. I want to spend my life skiing, because I love it.”

Simon’s just hit the double digits and works for eight different ski companies. No child should be in a position to negotiate contracts with international companies, which is where his agent, Peter, comes in. He organizes media, sponsors, and all the things a kid doesn’t want to do and really shouldn’t. Peter is also in a position of ensuring the best possible treatment of his athlete, because he’s also Simon’s father.

Simon, Peter, and photgrapher Bryan Ralph. James Heim told Ralphie about this young kid from Rossland that he has to shoot. Here they are at The Gathering 2013 making plans for next winter. 

Simon's job is to go skiing. It’s a job he does very well. This year, he’ll shred freeski competitions, shoot a few photos, and maybe some film. But for most of the season he’ll be skiing his favorite run, War Eagle, with some friends, hitting jumps, throwing tricks and high-fives, smiling, laughing, and being a kid. He knows what he wants to do with his life and he’s doing it every day on the hill. A life of a professional athlete usually seems to be full of pressures to perform, produce, and promote, and he can relax in knowing he’ got someone doing that for him. Simon Hillis is living that dream of doing what he loves. For him, being a pro skier is elementary.


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