April 19th, 2013
From the Armada Art, Photo, and Video Archives. Past, Present,
NAME: Mike Hornbeck
D.O.B: March 1987
SUMMER HOME: Mt. Hood, OR
WINTER HOME: SLC, UT
YEARS WITH ARMADA: 4
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE DESTINATION THIS YEAR?
Japan was ill. I was in Japan for 25 days filming urban and pow with Level 1. My girlfriend was a little pissed off, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. That was sick doing the whole urban to powder trip. I definitely want to go back there and ski. The powder is so good and the place is so different. I highly recommend everyone go. The snow is so damn light and you feel safe in those mountains. They’re not super huge and it’s pretty mellow, so you can launch off everything.
DID YOU GET ARRESTED IN JAPAN? HOW DID THAT GO?
Well, the fact that we couldn’t understand anything they were saying, that was kind of crazy. They brought us into a camper van during the arrest.…ahah! It was our fault though. We already got kicked out of the spot once, but it was a perfect rail and we decided to go back. Our guide, who barely spoke English, kept saying, “Super Problem” when we were setting it up, which is probably why they didn’t show up when we got busted.
WHAT DO YOU PACK WHILE TRAVELING?
I wear jeans on the plane. Bring like 5 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of cotton socks that I just throw away at the end of the trip. Ski socks are over rated so I just use a white cotton sock while skiing. You can get a 10-pack at Wal-Mart for about $8.99 so I get fresh socks before every trip. I do 4 or 5 big sock buys throughout the season. It’s so nice.
WHAT’S YOUR CAR SITUATION?
My car situation is good. Just did some wiring on it, got it running again. I did all the work with [Erik] Seo, he came over and got some eyes on it with me. That’s the difference between hillbillies and people that aren’t hillbillies; hillbillies aren’t afraid to take something apart. We don’t know anything more, we just aren’t afraid of the unknown. We aren’t afraid to take the bolt off. I procrastinated with my car so bad because I thought it was completely trashed, but once I finally got in there with some wrenches, it was easy. If I brought it somewhere, I would have had to pay so much money. But that’s really all it is, it’s confidence. I’m trying to take up that mind-set and get into everything.
WHAT MAKE AND MODEL IS YOUR CAR?
1982 Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s old. There are no computers or anything, you just bolt s#$t on and call it good.
YOU HAVE FOLLOWED A VERY DIFFERENT CAREER PATH THAN MOST SKIERS. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF NEW AND RELEVANT WITHOUT COMPETING?
It’s all about keeping it dope and keeping it fresh. You have to keep it grass roots. Keep it relatable so kids can try it. Kids in the Midwest can’t go do a triple cork because their hill is garbage – literally. So you have to do something that they can relate to. What really bums me out is kids from Minnesota that don’t even hit handrails. The best pros in the sport are traveling to their home state to hit rails and they don’t even touch them. They’re right in the back yard and they don’t even touch them! They’re not even using the opportunity they have. They’re going to pay money to hit some airbag or train on some trampoline when they could just as easily become a professional skier by going out in their backyard and skiing. That’s why I want to go back to the mindwest. Just to show kids that you can be pro out of anywhere. You can be a pro skier wherever you want, you just have to be creative.
IF YOU HAD A MESSAGE FOR KIDS IN THE PARK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The ski hill is not a competition area. Save that for the football field. That’s a competition area. The ski area is for chilling with your friends, not for competing. Creativity is endless. Everyone is different and everyone can see something differently, so there’s really no limit to how far you can take this. A lot of skiers try to look at other snowboard videos and track down the spots they’ve already seen. It’s okay to do that if you happen to find the same spot, but don’t nerd out on their films and try to hit everything they do. If you can think, you can do find something new. It would be cool to see more edits come out where kids break away from the norm. I seriously watch a video and turn it off within 30 seconds if I don’t see them try anything outside the box.
HOW MANY DAYS DID YOU SKI A RESORT THIS YEAR?
I skied park at a resort about 10 times this year. The rest I would wake up, drink coffee and go find something new.
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT SKIING IS GETTING MORE MEDIA ATTENTION?
I don’t want to hate on the growth in skiing, I love how big skiing is getting, but kids have to remember that skiing is not a mathematical formula. Right now, there’s such a formula to getting “good” at skiing and getting sponsored. They go to Breck, film an edit, and send it off to companies…. I think it’s sick we’re in the Olympics, but that means nothing to me, it’s not my sport that’s in the Olympics.
WHAT DOES THE SPORT MEAN TO YOU?
I don’t know. FREEskiing, just freedom. It sounds cliché, but it’s cool to go hit jumps, set up rails, and do exactly what you want to do. It sounds so funny when I hear everyone ranting about FIS. It’s obvious. We knew that was going to happen. We quit moguls 10 years ago because of these same restrictions…. nothing has changed. There’s no reason to complain about it being in the Olympics, but we just need to take control of it and do something about it.
IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE COMPETITION SKIING, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I really like what Rob Dydrek did with “Street League” in skateboarding. That’s a skateboarder who took control and produced an event exactly how he wanted to show competitive skateboarding. We need to do that in skiing. Sammy Carlson did that with his event and more people need to step up and create their own thing rather than complain about the existing events. That’s what skiing is. Skiing is doing something you want to do. It’s going to make something. It’s going to create whatever you want to create.
WHAT’S THE KEY TO SUCCESS AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE?
You just need to be smart to be successful. It’s just like any business. It’s not science. It’s trick selection. Take the mindset of a backcountry skier. They get their own turns, venture into the BC for miles to ski fresh snow because no one else is doing it, it’s just them out there. It’s the same thing in the street, setting up something that no one has ever set up before is amazing. Anyone uses a new mindset in skiing will be successful.
YOU’VE BEEN PUMPING OUT SEGMENTS FOR 6 OR 7 YEARS NOW. WHAT KEEPS IT FUN?
Getting in the car with other friends that ski, driving, and literally just looking out the window and daydreaming, wishing you can ski on everything you see. With winches now, everything is a possibility. It’s like some Johnny Mosely Mad Trixx! Hit anything, anywhere. Urban stays fresh because it’s limitless. Even JP still hits urban because it’s fun. It’s the whole mission you know? It’s just like camping. When you go camping, you don’t want to just go sleep out in a tent – it’s all about the process. You enjoy it because you set up the tent outside, have a fire, cook food, hang with friends – it’s just like urban. You get in the car, bullshit with friends, navigate to new spots, and find something crazy to film. You have the most insane experience hitting something no one else has done.
HOW HAS THE WINCH CHANGED YOUR SKIING?
The winch opened up a whole world of spots. You can go left, right, up down – you can hit a feature from any direction and learn so many new tricks. You can even re-visit old spots and hit something differently. That’s the same thing I’m learning in the pow, you can hit anything. I saw a photo of Rachel Burkes doing a backflip off a cliff at Brighton and it’s the same cliff that Ahmet and I carved up and boosted off. Ahmet had that shot of doing an underflip off the rock face rather that hitting it as a straight drop. It’s rad having different skiers finding ways to get shots on the same feature, just by hitting it at a different angle.
WAS THERE EVER A POINT THAT YOU WERE BORED WITH SKIING?
Never. I could do a cork 360 or a rodeo 5 and it would never get old. It never gets old for me because I don’t train my tricks. It’s so fun having that crazy, unsure feeling when you pop, any trick that gives you that feeling with keep things exciting for you.
WHAT’S THE MOST BUSTED THING IN SKIING RIGHT NOW?
Speed wedges, trampoline trained tricks with no skiing skills required between features. That was the X-Games course this year, it was 4 speed wedges in a row that dudes had a launch themselves off. That’s why Henrik didn’t make it. He was turning in his run. If you land to the side, you’re not going to make it into the next speed wedge to set your trick. The next progression of the sport is when courses get out of line. Bring it back full circle to 2002 and put hips and off angle jumps into the course.
WHO DO YOU LIKE TO WATCH SKI?
Everyone I ski with. Ahmet, Henrik, Phil, Brady, Delorme, Liam, Chris, P-White…. I don’t know, there’s SO many people. I just like anyone that’s unpredictable. They’re going to bust something that you may have never seen before and it’s so interesting. I love watching those guys ski, they keep you guessing.
‘Sunny’- Level 1 Productions
‘After Dark’ – Level 1 Productions
‘Eye Trip’ — Level 1 Productions
‘New Era’ — Kyle Decker/ Level 1
‘Right Back Where We Started’ — Jiberish Cinema
‘Refresh’ — Level 1 Productions
‘Turbo’ — Level 1 Productions
‘Real Time’ — Level 1 Productions
‘Enjoy’ — Rage Films
‘Spotl!ght Project’ — Jiberish Cinema
‘Photoplay’ — Theory Three Media