KC Deane’s travel schedule can be described best through this email I received while trying to connect with him, “I'm back this afternoon in Whistler for 6 hours, if you have time and want to do that interview
.” Barely home after over a month shooting and filming in Japan, K.C. headed straight for Montana then Tahoe before his upcoming stops in Reno, Alaska, Revelstoke, Europe, and then back to Alaska. Of course this will all be wrapped up before May 1 – the date he has committed to start riding bikes instead of skis this year.
Constantly on the go, not only as an athlete, but also organizing logistics for trips, fundraising for filming, working on contracts, and keeping up a media presence – being a pro-athlete between two worlds can be exhausting. I caught up with him while he was on a layover in Salt Lake City, and with flight announcements and screaming children in the background, we talked about Gully’s tattoos, how not having a girlfriend is a real time saver, and why global warming forced him to get a second job. We talked about some other things too; competing in Rampage, getting injured and having goals. You technically live in Whistler, but are you ever home?
Yeah I do, but I am rarely home. Which, since I don't work in Canada, is how I can stay up there. I feel more like I have a vacation rental. I have been home one night in the last 7 weeks. Unless winter starts sometime soon I doubt I'll be around that much. Is travelling still exciting for you or has it become mundane?
I think it can get tiring always being gone, but it never really gets mundane unless you are going to the same place year in and year out. For instance going to Chile now is routine. I feel so lucky to be able to travel this much, as long as I’m not going to the same places I don't think it will ever be mundane. Why is going to Chile routine?
About seven or eight years ago I started going to South America in the summers to coach. Before I got into biking I wanted to ski all year and coaching was a way to get your flight paid for. I would go down for a month and coach. After about four years it had run its course, it was still fun for me, but I didn’t want to spend all summer skiing. Now, I would actually like to go on a bike trip down there, they have some awesome trails and it would be nice to check it out. What are you currently working on in Japan?
Well, when I’m not biking, I ski full time and I came over to shoot for a magazine feature as well as film for a new ski movie called Blank
. It will be out this fall. When and how did you decide to make your off season into a mountain biking career? Was it a choice or more of an evolution?
I decided two and a half years ago now, to make it a career. I would say it was a conscious choice for sure. How were you introduced to mountain biking originally? What or who drew you back to it?
I was originally introduced to mountain biking by my dad. My whole family mountain biked and my mom used to travel to mountain bike races with me back in the day when I was in middle school and high school. What drew me back into mountain biking was watching Rampage in person. What was it about watching Rampage that caught your attention and made you want to ride again?
It was Gully’s tattoos that caught my eye, they make his muscles look awesome. Actually? It was a combination of everything. Rampage is similar to what I was already doing on skis. I had always wanted to race downhill but never got a chance because I focused on XC when I was younger. My friend Greg Smith competed in the first few Rampages and that’s how I was originally introduced to it; it looked like fun, and something I would want to do. You raced XC as a kid before you decided to focus solely on Skiing. Now that you are back on a bike, what reason do you attribute to your seven years of not riding bikes?
I was just burned out on biking and the scene I was involved in. I was racing XC and was a top ranked junior doing the Norba nationals and Canada cups and I had been training 3-6 hours, probably 300 days a year since I was 14. Also seeing and knowing the drugs involved in XC racing, it just wasn't worth it. So I quit and barely even touched a bike until a few years ago. You competed in Red Bull Rampage this year, what was your experience like there?
To be honest it was pretty stressful. The year before I helped Mark [Matthews] and [Mitch] Chubey dig, and even then it didn't seem as stressful for the riders. Guys were just building the top half because the whole bottom half of the old venue was established; you just had to pick wherever you wanted to go and buff it out. Last year everything from top to bottom had to be built, Paul and I built a line together and were worried about getting it done it time. We were digging 13 – 15 hours some days. You are completely beat and then still have to think about riding your line. I put pressure on myself to put on a good performance, not only for my sponsors, but also for those who had vouched for me so that I could compete at Rampage and for myself.
I was really disappointed to get hurt with a dumb crash; I broke my ribs. I thought ‘of all things, this is how I get hurt?
’ It was frustrating but a good learning experience. How would you describe the difference between the passion that you feel for skiing and that for mountain biking?
I think it is really similar. Once I started riding a bike again I was like ‘whoa!
’ This is what I've been missing. I feel like because I was skiing and riding bikes since I was a little kid, when I do both sports now it just makes me feel like I'm eight years-old and riding with my brother. When I'm digging trails to shoot or film, it is no different than what I did growing up. How do the two sports complement each other?
I think that skiing really helps biking for me because of line choice. Skiing in the backcountry you have to manage speed, focus, and control when skiing a line. Then biking really helps me because in freeriding you don't really have the option of falling. When you hit a drop or a jump, to me, it is always mandatory that you land it and ride away. In the backcountry you have so much leeway with powder. You can hit a fifty-foot cliff, not even land on your feet, and be totally fine. But I always want to stomp my landings, and biking makes me really aggressive on skis when it comes to hitting drops and jumps. How do you manage not having down time or do you make the most of the shoulder seasons?
Well not having a girlfriend helps – ha ha ha. But I still have a little time. It is almost like having a normal job. Most people only get 2-3 weeks off a year. So I get some time off in the fall to go surf. And I feel like now I’m just smarter about taking days for myself. Even if it isn't the shoulder season, I really value getting a few days here and there. How does the popularity of your social media presence affect your career or the ability for you to make a career for yourself as a professional athlete?
I'd say it helps a ton. Take two equally talented athletes for example, and one has a good outreach in which he/she keeps in touch with fans, and the other one doesn't. It is just another thing that makes you marketable. And if you have a large following, then that is a large outreach to consumers which makes you valuable to companies. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Managing to somehow get paid to ski and bike year-round. I feel like I’ve never ‘made it’
, so I always take winter to the very end. Another pro-skier told me one time to stop being an overachiever, but he went home and we had the sickest day three days later. So no matter how good things are, I believe there is always room for improvement. It sounds like you have had long list of injuries, how do you manage your healing time and the mental side of not being active during recovery?
For me it is pretty easy. The first few weeks when you are in a lot of pain it sucks, but mentally I just take that time to relax, focus on healing and what I’m going to do when I’m back. And like you said before sometimes it is hard because I don't have much downtime. So if I am hurt I try and just take that time to take care of all the things I'm too busy to do most the time. You broke your neck in a ski accident in 2010 and doctors thought that you would never ski again. Did you ever consider accepting their diagnosis or was it not an option for you? Has your unexpected recovery inspired you or made you more determined to pursuer your goals?
Oh hell no! Yeah I knew the whole time that I was going to be back for sure. I wouldn't say it changed my determination or focus. That is one thing that has always remained fairly steady. How do you continue to push the limits of your ability within your sports while managing the risk of injury? Have you ever walked away from something based on your gut feeling?
Yeah I have walked away from stuff for sure. I've also not walked away when I should have. But I feel like the majority of the time you just have confidence in your ability, and keep the thoughts of injury in the back of your head. Being a professional skier you are often on location, but with the winter being had on the west coast for skiing do you have any concerns about the threat of global warming and the changes to our winters?
Oh for sure. This winter is a perfect example of global warming. I mean the entire west coast is a mess. Temperatures and storms are so sporadic. That is why I got a second job! Who are your sponsors and how do they align with who you are and what your professional goals are?
My sponsors for biking are Scott
, Eddie Bauer
, Dissent Labs
, and Arcade
. For Skiing the are Eddie Bauer, Moment Skis
, Scott, Bern
, Contour, Outdoor Tech
, Whistler Blackcomb
, Arcade, BCA
, and Spacecraft
. Some of my sponsors, like Scott for instance, are so rad because they support me in both sports. Scott makes unreal bikes, goggles, helmets, poles, etc. Having a company like that and Eddie Bauer, who I work with year round, is the best. I feel so lucky to have all the people that support me, but the ones who happen to make gear for both sports are so awesome. I was skiing for Scott when I got my first free ride from them and it was an Fr-10. What are you goals for mountain biking?
I want to continue to push my freeriding and learn more tricks. I have been skiing and biking at Woodward Tahoe for a while now and being there helps me so much. I spent some time there before Rampage riding with Paul Bas and it helped me a lot. Other than continuing to work on that side of things I have some film projects with Scott, Enve, and Contour that I’m doing this year. Also I want to do Nine Knights, some stuff at Crankworx, and would really like to ride Rampage again this fall. Other than that I want to take my biking and get it to the same point my skiing is at. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My perfect scenario would be two perfect bluebird days heli skiing in Alaska, then going straight from there to the Whistler Bike Park with September conditions and not too many people around. After that, flying somewhere warm to surf and ride more bikes. That’s my idea of happiness.Click here to see more photos of KC by Ian Collins.
Thanks also to photographer Steve Lloyd.
MENTIONS: @SCOTT-Sports @KCDeane @stevelloyd
KC, if what @merican99 says is true then I feel sorry for you. News flash, nobody cares if you're a great rider/skier...doesn't matter one little bit what you've done in your life, no matter how huge you went, or how sick your lines were, you'll end up dying like the rest of the planet. 40k followers on your Instagram account and cool end of season edits doesn't mean shit at the end of the day. What matters is how you treat people dude. There's way more to life than having a huge ego and putting yourself above or below everyone you meet.
You can't ride "his" lines which are on public lands and wouldn't be affected by your riding, eh? If that's true, what a bitch.
Shame he treats people that way. Real pros never would act like that towards fans. Too much pride, for a lackluster rider......
ps climate change is real dog, don't believe the haters. Just look at glacial recession - 10 yr recession equalling the preceding 50 years in some places? That's f*cked up.
I live in a place that is home to many pros and I know a lot of them, uhm, it's Colorado, you may have heard of it. So nah it's not too shitty but if you think so, please please don't visit. Just giving my observations, what I've actually experienced. Surely not all, but yeah, there have been many a two plankers that are douches and yes, some mtb's.
P.S - on " climate change, global warming, global cooling, aka weather patterns." Forget glacial receeding and subsequent re- pack, which they never tell you about. Just look at Climategate. All the surface temps have been fraudulently manipulated. It's a fact. Maybe you should ride more and turn off the fake news.