Moonlight Basin ambassador Parkin Costain recently spoke with Explore Big Sky, covering everything from how he got his season pass pulled at his home resort, to his meteoric rise in the professional skiing industry as an 18-year-old Montana native.
Explore Big Sky: When and where did you learn to ski? Who was instrumental in helping you to become an elite skier?
Parkin Costain: I put my first pair of skis on at 2, but had spent plenty of time before that riding in a backpack with my dad. I grew up in Whitefish, Montana, and learned to ski on the local hill.
EBS: You were successful while competing in junior freeride events. Do you plan on returning to competitive skiing in the future?
P.C.: I started competing when I was 9 years old on the [International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association] circuit. My last year on IFSA was two years ago at 16. I’ve always loved competing and the group of guys that come along with it. There’s no better feeling than landing your run and coming to a finish full of a huge group of hyped friends. Right now I’m definitely focusing most of my time into filming, but if the opportunity comes along to fit competing back into my schedule then I’m all for it.
EBS: You won the 2015 Teton Gravity Research Grom Contest. (“Grom” refers to a young, competitive freeskier.) Why did you decide to enter the video contest and who helped you film it?
P.C.: I decided to enter the TGR Grom Contest after I watched a friend of mine, [Daniel Tisi],win it and get a sick segment in a TGR film. I came in second the first year I entered the contest, and then was able to take the win the next year. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a segment in their film for winning, but I did get the opportunity to meet and become friends with everyone in that crew. That was almost more valuable because it has gotten me to where I am now.
EBS: You recently had the chance to film with TGR in Terrace, British Columbia. How did that opportunity materialize?
P.C.: Last year I had a really great season and was able to win the Quiksilver Young Guns ski contest with [a video edit]—that was definitely the turning point for me becoming pro and getting to shoot with TGR this year.
EBS: Currently, you’re heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska. For the uninitiated, can you describe the feeling of cruising down a steep, Alaskan spine?
P.C.: When it comes to heli-skiing, Haines is unlike any other place on the planet. If you’re looking for a super drawn-out run you can go ski these 6,400-[vertical-feet] glaciers all day long. As the day goes on and you decide to venture out to the spines the feeling is euphoric as you’re shredding down the steepest line of your life. It’s a bit like falling out of the sky except you’re in control of the decent.
EBS: You recently became an ambassador for Moonlight Basin. How did that come about?
P.C.: The way the Moonlight deal came about was a combination of a few things and a pretty funny story. Last year, I had a few pivotal moments in my ski career that got me to where I am today. It started early in the season when I hit this chairlift jump on [Whitefish Mountain Resort] where I grew up and the management there really didn’t like it. I was out of town when they watched the video so I didn’t know they had pulled my pass until I got back home and tried to ski. It was not a very warm welcome home.
Throughout the rest of the season, I was able to win the few freeride [competitions that] I did and then started to focus on filming. I entered this film contest (Quiksilver Young Guns Ski Competition) that I saw a mention of on Instagram. I entered two days before the competition ended and was able to get selected as one of the top 10 finalists. Over the next two months, my dad and I went out as much as we could to film. The two months of trying to film were coming to an end. We didn’t have any footage to put in the edit—weather and timing were not working for us. Within the last week of available time to film we took our last trip from Big Sky to Cooke City and in two days shot the entire edit.
There was a month of online voting after that so I just let it be and waited for the results. The season was coming to an end and I got the chance to ski [the Yellowstone Club] and that was when they announced I won the Quiksilver contest. Everything started to happen really fast after that. I was getting phone calls from ski brands like Blizzard and 4FRNT offering me contracts with actual money, which is something I had never had happen before. People knew that the years to come were going to be awesome and they wanted to be a part of it.
I had been up to [Alaska] once before and had plans of going again but didn’t know it would be in the next week after I partnered with SEABA Heli. Literally within the week after winning the contest I signed a new ski contract with Line [Skis], partnered with SEABA Heli for five years and had interest from Moonlight Basin. I spent the last three days of the season up in Haines and was able to feel comfortable and ski well enough that Moonlight decided it was a go, and wanted to have me be a part of their team.
EBS: What are your goals as a winter athlete in the near future?
P.C.: For the rest of this season, and as far as I decide to take this ski thing, I just really want to stay healthy and keep progressing as a skier. I want to keep working with TGR and producing even higher quality individual edits on my own. I have a passion for filming and want to have that in my back pocket as something I can offer to ski brands and any other sponsors.