I Met Lupe about 4 years ago. He came out with Tanner, Taylor Seaton, and myself to hit an undisclosed street spot in the mean streets of Copper, Colorado. Lupe was an extremely eager young kid, So stoked to be with us, and he was hungry to get a shot on this feature. He was not shy to let us know that he wanted, more than anything, to hit more features throughout the season, and that he would be ready with a shovel in the hand anytime we called. Since then he has come out with multiple segments and short movies that he has made happen by organizing film crews, finding spots, and editing out the footage himself in a lot of cases.
This is the kind of grinding work Ethic that is needed to make it today as a film skier. There is no relying on other people to do everything for you. No, you have to be willing to work hard and to put yourself in the right positions and Lupe has done. A couple years ago, Tom Wallisch was one to recognize Lupe's determination and soon featured him in Good Companies "Guest List".
Every time I link up with Lupe, we tend to get into some deep, intense, heartfelt discussions about the ski industry. Always trying to diagnose some of the problems and hopefully help to cure it. He's a bright young skier with a lot of talent, and I'm stoked to have invited that kid out with us to the street spot with the crew 4 years ago.
Wallisch explains how Lupe became part of the crew and some kind words for the eager young skier.
"Lupe, I had met through a sponsor on a film shoot up in Hood one summer. I had seen some of his footage but didn't know much about him. We got to hang and film together, and he showed me a ton off his street footage from the prior year that hadn't been released yet. I was definitely impressed by what I saw and by how he carried himself own the hill. He's got an awesome work ethic an some serious skills, and style. We got him out on some shoots with GC and hes been killing it, an going hard. He's also a whiz behind the camera and computer so he's helped us in the summer with footage labeling and editing work. Motived dude for sure."
Given opportunities like this can change lives, whats Lupe think?
AD: Let's start off by you telling us where you're from?
LH: I was born in Hartford CT, grew up in West Hartford.
AD: What was it that influence you into pursuing Street skiing back east?
LH: There were a number of things that influenced myself to start skiing in the streets back East. I would say the main factor that really had caught my attention, and had motivated me to go find rails in the city were ski movies primarily. The first ski movie I ever owned was Teddy Bear Crisis. I watched that movie everyday over and over for a few years at least haha. I think that film in general got me hooked on free skiing. From there I was doing anything and everything I could to learn about this new cool thing. As I discovered crews like 4bi9, Stept, Meat Heads, Level 1, and Poor Boyz I saw all these dudes hitting crazy rails in the city and I was in awe to say the least.
Growing up it was pretty clear that I was not going to be a comp skier. I did not have the support financially to travel around, skiing on snow in the summer, or be able to do the other things to keep up with other kids on that path. When I saw crews coming out with ski films that were a majority or entirely composed of Street Skiing, it started to give me a new hope and dream. I saw street skiing as a new outlet inside skiing for myself to focus on.
At first all it meant to me was that I could make skiing much more accessible by cruising around the city and finding jibs to hit for free. I didn't need to worry about buying a lift ticket, finding a ride to the mountain, or needing much gas money. I could go to a park, or other spots I found, and ski when ever without even having to have my own car. This was perfect all I wanted to do, all I cared about was skiing.
For me Street skiing has been a way for a kid with a dream to connect and be apart of a community and sport. Without having this outlet I may have not been a part of skiing due to lack of money or support at my young age. The opportunities skiing has presented me and experiences I have gained through my journey have been irreplaceable.
AD: How did ski movies, like Teddy Bear Crisis, play into to your skiing?
LH: I think Ski Movies played one of the biggest roles in myself falling in love with skiing. At first ski movies were a way for me to study our sport and gain knowledge of what free skiing was and is all about. I was analyzing everything going on in front of my eyes across that TV screen. From the gear a skier was wearing, different grabs, different axis, different locations filmed, intro to segments, I could go on and on. Every aspect of skiing was drawing me in, I wanted to soak it all up. Our culture is unbelievable in certain senses. I know dressing in huge baggy ghetto clothes is not really in right now, but I happen to still love that style haha. But its cool that in skiing you can dress like a total kook, a gangster, a track star, a rocker, or whatever and just be who you want to be. In the beginning that was an aspect of skiing that really appealed to me and it still does.
As I got more into skiing, I started filming edits with my homies that I grew up with. The process of filming and creating an edit or a movie is a form of art. So much thought can go into it all. Where you film, how you film it, the music you use, the way you cut it, etc. It's cool to have a vision or idea in your head and then over time through a creative process bring your idea to life. There is something very satisfying to me about that process.
At a certain point I was just looking up to guys like yourself, and other dudes from the OG Level 1 crew like Wallisch, Hornbeck, B-Dog, Henrik, Inspired, 4bi9, Poor Boys, and Stept. Im probably forgetting people, but in my head I was just like Im going to do that. I want to make and film for movies and do dope stuff everyday. I don't want a desk job or to go to college. I want to create something that could influence skiing or become a part of skiing history. Easier said then done haha, I know.
It really bums me out that the classic ski movie is dying or maybe its already dead? I understand times are changing and with the new ways of social media there is an influx or over saturation of content. With that being said, its hard to stay up on everything coming out these days. Instead of sponsors caring about what production company you are filming for, or what video project/segment you are coming up with. They care about how many followers you have or the post you make on instagram. ( Speaking generally about the industry, my sponsors have been very supportive. I am very lucky.)
I wish there there was more of a balance. If you look at skateboarding you see how prestigious it is for skaters to put out hammer street parts or put out new park shots on insta to keep things up to date. In skating there is still a very high respect for going out and filming a full street part. Guys are making full careers out of just that.
AD: You've been living out west for quite a few years now, what do you think is the main difference between the east coast/west coast ski style?
LH: I think it may sound a bit cliche, but I am going to say it anyway. I believe kids on the East Coast seem more hungry and just ready to giv'er in the snow, rain, ice, dirt, or what ever. Not having as good conditions, as long of a season, or comparable terrain makes kids on the East appreciate things and go that much harder to prove they can kill it too. I don't want to say this is the case for every kid. I have met loads of young, talented, and motivated kids from the West Coast. The West Coast breeds some real dope skiers. But at the end of the day I stick to this, the East Coast breeds the baddest!
AD: You've been killing it with putting in work to get your segments made every year, do you think it has become harder over the years to be seen? If so is there a reason why?
LH: Last season, personally, I feel that I dropped the best street segment that I have put out to date. On all the platforms that it was hosted on, I had only received about 12k views. On instagram I dropped an early season clip sliding a log into pow and it got 26k views in 8 hours. I find it very frustrating to work on a segment or project and have it not get seen. Then you go out to ski a day and not film, you whip your phone out for some insta clip, and boom that gets a ton of views..... That can be almost degrading at times. Especially knowing that most sponsors in our industry currently value the readily available social media content over waiting for an athlete to work on a segment throughout a season and release it in the fall. Its tough you know? You don't want to sell out and stop doing what you really love and grew up dreaming about. But you also need to keep the people giving you opportunities, gear, budgets, and things like that stoked. Its all a fine balance.
I really hope that we can re-grow an emphasis on how important filming segments still is and how it should always be. It would be sick to see segments in skiing gain respect for skiers on the level that it does in skateboarding. Skiers already imitate skaters and things they do with filming and editing. I think our industry could improve itself by looking to set certain industry standards and practices that skating already has.
AD: How did you get the opportunity from Tom to film with Good Company?
LH: That truly is a crazy story haha, a moment I will never forget. I was on Shred Optics for 5 years, one summer in Hood Shred got a house for the team. I was chilling with Duncan, Hornbeck, and Wallisch for a week skiing and filming. I showed Wallisch the project I was currently working on with some homies, called B.U.F.U. He seemed stoked on all the street stuff the crew and I got after. I kinda poked around the idea of trying to link up with Good Company during the upcoming winter, which was the season of 16/17. Well im sure it was more then just poking haha. I wouldn't shut up about asking Wallisch to film with Good Company. My biggest dream in life, and skiing, was to link up with a professional production company and get to film a segment. At the end of the week Wallisch told me to stay in touch through out the Fall and early season. I did just that, I would hit him up every couple weeks asking him the same shit haha. Tom was super patient with me and was like "no plans yet, I will let you know brotha!"
On New Years Eve I looked at my phone around 12:30-1:00am and saw I had a missed call from Tom. I was wondering why he called me so late on new years haha. I was hoping it was for filming reasons no doubt! I called him right back and he was basically like "get your ass to SLC in the morning, your coming on a street trip with Good Company" ( this was the season Tom was filming his second X Games Real Street ). This was the moment I had been waiting for since I was like 13 haha. I was freaking out to say the least. I told him I needed a day to get my shit together haha, and he was cool with that. So January 2nd I got to SLC and linked up with the crew.
I hit this massive wallride the first day I filmed with GC. It was an old Dylan Thompson spot from a segment he filmed with Technine. It was pretty big. At that time it was definitely the biggest spot I had stepped to. I was a bit nervous and was just like, "dude this is the chance you have been waiting for, time to send it." I ended up splitting my chin open on my knee at that spot but still got the shot and was very stoked!! We headed to Boise Idaho the next day and did some scoping. We found this zone where Tom found a spot for himself. Dale had a spot in mind, and I found something else I wanted to do as well. Tom laced up that cable slide transfer to down ledge real quick, he took one pretty good slam that didn't seem to phase him much. I was up next and set up this cable close out off a roof. I ended up going way to fast first hit and dislocated my elbow overshooting my first spot in Idaho.
I basically had run out of money and my sponsors were not going to help me get back to Colorado. So Tom, being the G that he is, used some of his miles to fly me out of Idaho, back to Colorado, and get my elbow taken care of. On top of that, Tom really takes care of the Good Company crew. He covers gas, hotel costs, and is always willing to help his homies out in any way he can. It's super cool to see a legend like Tom giving back to skiing and giving people opportunities. Our sport sure needs something/someone like that right now. I know we have all heard stories of athletes paying to be in ski films and that is not how it should work. People in our industry that are in a position of power should be following Toms lead, we need more of the big names giving back and helping grow our sport.
AD: These type of opportunities can really help a skier out in many different ways. How has the opportunity to film with the guys over at Good company had a lasting effect on you.
LH: Having the opportunity to film with Good Company has been amazing. I have also been able to help out AJ and Decker with some sorting/editing. Those two dudes are so talented at what they do, so I am constantly asking them questions or showing them cuts and asking what they think about it haha. I am trying to continue to progress my skiing while learning as much as I can about the filming and editing process. Tom is also very supportive of myself and is willing to give advice and guidance about the business side of skiing. Having linked up with Good Company has put me on a bigger platform in the ski community in general.
On top of all that, while actually filming with the crew, it is dope because all these guys have been working together for so long. Its a very fluid process and all I really need to focus on is the trick I want to do. Good Company has an urban trailer that has everything you could ever think of in it. It is so cool to be around the guys I grew up watching in movies and now I am tagging along. Being surrounded with people that are just as motivated as you to sit in a truck, driving around a city hitting street spots for weeks on end like a crazy person. It takes a special person to be able to be on that kind of grind. When I was younger I never really met to many kids that felt about skiing the way I did or were willing to put in the work. It can feel lonely to have a passion that no one else around you shares. I feel like all the dudes from Good Company have been about this shred life for a long time and its awesome to share that with someone.
AD: Pretty recently, In Oregon, you and I had a long talk about skiers getting fed up with certain things in the industry, to the point where they simply just up and Leave it.. Lets hear some thoughts on this.
LH: I think our industry is just so cut throat man. It takes a really tough and persistent person to be successful in our industry. It is easy to be discouraged, and it is very rare to find loyalty. I think a lot of people just get so over it and are just like, "forget it im done." It bums me out that people are so easily forgotten in this industry. I think, as I have gotten older and traveled the world for skiing, it made me realize how small our sport is. In a certain essence of the world skiing is so minuscule or meaningless when compared to other aspects of life. Skiing is still such a driving force in my life that I have put a majority of my time towards. More, now then ever, I am trying to be conscious of having balance in my life. I still live, breathe, and eat, skiing, but I am trying to figure out a way to keep living the shred life while experiencing other aspects of life outside of skiing at the same time. I think that not having this balance can lead to people getting burnt out and wanting to stop skiing. Everyone has their own life to live, if someone decides they don't want to be a pro skier anymore, I think that is ok. I just don't get how you go from being a pro skier, to saying your quitting skiing, and then not even ski for fun anymore. In my opinion worse then quitting would be to stick around the scene and keep getting paid by sponsors, keep getting opportunities, but just not care about skiing or progression anymore.
AD: What keeps you putting in the hard work year after year skiing?
LH: To me skiing is this journey I am on. I don't know exactly where I am going, but I sure as hell remember where I came from. I don't ever want to be there again. Skiing has given me everything. Life experiences, friends all over the world, a nickname, a passion, a reason to wake up everyday and have something to work towards. This journey is helping to shape me into the person I want and strive to be. When I think about giving up, I think back to when I was 15 years old living in CT in some ghetto apartment with my little sister and my dad. Going through winters with no heat, or hot water. Having to steal my lunch everyday. Skateboarding to a pay phone in the middle of the winter to call my friends to go skiing. Fast forward to now, Im getting paid to ski, I have all the gear I need, i've gotten to travel the world, my face has been on time square in New York City, in ski magazines, Subaru hooked me up with a new car when I was 20 years old for a season, and now im filming with, and a part of Tom Wallisch's crew. If 25 year old Lupe got to meet 15 year old Lupe and tell him everything he was going to experience in life with skiing, 15 year old Lupe wouldn't have ever believed it for one minute.
Its very hard to fight the urge to conform and live a "normal" and comfortable life. To just give in to a 9-5 because it will be easier and more consistent. But nothing good comes easy in life, the best things you really must struggle and work hard for. So I try to remind myself, in the hard times, that this too shall pass and to remember all the odds I have already over come. Just keep on truckin man!
AD: Right on man fantastic words. With that being said where would you like to see yourself in this ski industry in 5 years, how about 10 years. Do you see yourself sticking around the ski world afterwords for a career job.
LH: Real tough to say, life has a way of happening in ways we did not plan. The way I feel right now is that I will ski for the rest of my life no matter what. I am currently frustrated with certain aspects of skiing but will continue to devote all my time and effort to being a film skier. I would love to establish myself as a household name in the industry for years to come. To find a way to make my living inside the ski industry one way or another. Right now I have very little responsibility to anyone else in the world but myself, so it is easy to focus on my skiing and current goals. The next big thing for me would be to get an XGames Real Street invite and focus on putting out a segment that I will be proud to show the world. After street skiing I would like to transition more into touring and back country skiing. I want to keep skiing my career and focus for as long as I physically can. I know I want to have a family one day, so if I can figure out a way to balance it all that would be really cool. I definitely am trying to think and plan ahead, but also trying to just enjoy where I am at right now. I hope I can continue to create opportunities for myself to keep skiing professionally, that is the dream.