Sage Cattabriga-Alosa has earned the praise. And he’s been awarded for his prowess, receiving Powder magazines annual MVP award for male performance three times. He has defined big mountain freeskiing with his creativity. And done it all without forcing a thing, waiting for the moment to come to him. So it was only fitting that Cattabriga-Alosa took time to talk with The Inertia Mountain on his way to the mountains. Because that’s when it all worked out. And we can definitely get down with that.
So you just moved to Tumalo, Oregon (eight miles north of Bend). How’s that going?
Sweet, I’m still figuring it out. I moved here with my wife because it was a good spot for both of us. There’s so much backcountry. You can use the sled to get you out to the zones. Last year I went out one day and it was awesome. There’s a lot of new terrain. Today I’m going to the hill for a few laps but it looks like some high pressure is coming in and we’ll get out and tour.
You’re still working really close with Teton Gravity Research? What else are you working on?
I’ve had a really strong partnership with TGR. They’re celebrating their 21st year of making movies. In true TGR fashion they bypassed their 20th. We started filming in Jackson last month with some good stuff coming down the pipe. Then I work on production for all kinds of small stuff and film with my sponsors, Smith Atomic, and the North Face.
It seems like skiing is going in so many directions. Is there anything that totally annoys you right now in the industry?
I’m pretty open-minded with it all. There’s a lot of cool things that I’m generally psyched with. For the most part, the stuff I don’t relate to that much, I enjoy seeing, skiing in creative ways, and I can definitely relate to creativity. Like the SKiFi (crew out of Finland). Those dudes, everything they do, people are like ‘that’s not skiing.’ But it is skiing, it’s part of it. I always find myself laughing at it like, ‘Holy shit this is hilarious.’ But it’s also really rad. I love micro shredding, going big, going huge when it’s powder, micro terrain, it’s all pretty awesome. Skiing has gotten gnarly in all directions. The street stuff has gotten so heavy. There’s a lot of cool, creative skiing going on.
What’s your focus?
I definitely like new experiences, pushing yourself is always great and usually rewarding when it pays off. Ski mountaineering is the next natural progression and I’ve barely dabbled. I’ve done a handful of trips but they’ve been great. Really, I love to just go skiing, making laps at an area is just as rewarding. What I focus on now, though, rather than pushing myself all the time, I wait for opportunities when it seems to line up. Just being more patient. That way I’m more inspired when I’m out there and it’s way more fulfilling. The experiences are usually positive and you can be safe. So you’re patient, patient, patient and then, ‘oh, wow everything is lining up,’ then you go for it.
So when you’re out there charging in front of the camera, how do you handle airs? Do you have to scope things out or will you just charge if the camera’s rolling?
It’s always changing. A little of both: sometimes you’re in a zone where you can see the landing and see where you want to go. It’s rare to get to ski down and be like, “Holy shit, there’s the landing,” when you haven’t scoped it at all. Mostly it’s pre-scoped on the way up, or we see things from the bottom or across the way (on the approach) and are like, I can air off that. It’s funny, more than anything, we leave stuff on the table, even from the heli. A lot of those (scoped out airs) come with great time and cost and effort. There’s always a ton of energy expelled to make any line happen. You’re like, ‘should I try something new or get a line and get something filmed I’m not going to crash on?’ Because of the pressure to film, it’s almost the opposite: rather than go for it, you hold back to log usable footage. You can’t go for it all the time.
How do you deal with the fear when you’re out there?
In a way, you’re scared all the time. It’s a constant roller coaster: in Alaska, I’m always like, ‘Oh my God, what am I getting myself into?’ Or you’re looking at something and it looks sick and you get to the top of it and you’re like, ‘now I can’t see anything.’ The fear gets overwhelming. But if you push the fear aside and problem solve, figure out steps and at that point you know you’ve got it, you’re still scared but it’s go time. But if you go through all the steps, and you still don’t know where you’re going and you’re gripped, you can turn around and that’s always a wise move to make.
How much of your footage actually makes it in the movies you’re working on?
Yeah, it’s always tough. It’s funny, I shot a whole segment over two weeks in Jackson for Paradise Waits and they didn’t use any footage in the movie. But that’s kind of the way it goes. I also had plenty of footage in there. TGR is filming with so many people, and in the end the story has to be told in an hour. There’s always the way you think it might be and the way it turns out. But after watching the movie, I thought it was well done. I enjoyed it as a whole and am really proud of it.