The season started off shaky for Breckenridge skier Bobby Brown, who took a disappointing sixth at the Dew Tour slopestyle on his home mountain in December. But Brown - counted out by many due to a poor slopestyle performance just days before - surprised a national audience by winning big air gold at the X Games in Aspen. His "comeback" didn't end there, as the 20-year-old earned gold for the first time across the pond at Euro X in Tignes, France. Brown once again landed atop the podium, besting his friend and competitive rival Tom Wallisch in the slopestyle - a win Brown hopes will serve as a harbinger for the Olympic qualifying season to come.
Summit Daily News: It seemed like your skiing drastically improved from the start of the season. What changed for you throughout the course of the winter? Can you take me back and give me a little recap from your perspective?
Bobby Brown: At the beginning of the season, I didn't feel like myself. I just felt like I was putting too much pressure on everything and not having as much fun as I should. By the end of the season, I really wanted to have a good time and really enjoy everything that I was doing, and that's when everything started going better. I just had to take a step back and realize what I was doing and how much fun it really was."
SDN: What were your personal expectations going into the X Games in Aspen?
How much did that big air win give you
confidence heading into Euro X?
Brown: After the slope (in Aspen) didn't go as well as I wanted it to, I really wanted to make this big air happen. That night, I was just feeling really good and skied the best I've skied in a while, so it was definitely super fun. Going into Euro X - I don't know - Euro X was something I just really wanted to win because I got second the first year and didn't do too well last year. The course definitely favored my abilities, and I just tried to focus the energy and vibe that was going on during X Games big air (in Aspen) and make it happen at Euro X. I was definitely feeling in the same realm that I did with Aspen big air, so it was cool to find that feeling in my mind when I feel like I can compete at my best.
SDN: How did it feel to be back on top in slopestyle at Euro X? Do you personally emphasize one event over the other? Which would you rather win?
Brown: I think slopestyle is so awesome. I love big air. I love jumps. I really prefer those over rails, but it's so nice when you can link a run together with seven features and make it something that you're really stoked on. There's a lot more room to express yourself and be creative (in slopestyle).
SDN: What did you think of the new park at Tignes?
Brown: It was so nice. It was cool that it ended with a rail. It's something that a slope course hasn't done in a while - it usually ends with a huge jump. It was nice to change it up, and the rails were pretty technical; there were half-rails, half-jumps. So it was definitely a course that favored all abilities. Some like the rails more; some like the jumps.
SDN: What is the competitive relationship between you and Tom Wallisch like? Have you guys been pushing each other to take things to the next level? Do you think it's good for the sport to have two guys going back and fourth at the top level?
Brown: We're good friends. Every contest, we're both stoked. ... We've kind of been on the podium a bunch together. Obviously, we want to beat each other, but definitely I'm stoked for him every time he's on the podium. I look up to him because he's so smooth. He brings so much style to everything, so I look to him for inspiration and we both feed off each other's contests. Sure, you want to win, but when it comes down to it, it's good to see your friend up there too.
SDN: With the addition of slopestyle, how much are you thinking about the Olympics in 2014? Is that the ultimate goal for an athlete like you?
Brown: Yeah, now it is. It keeps getting closer and closer. I keep thinking about it, and I really want to make that happen. It's a dream come true for any athlete. If I can make it happen, that would be so amazing. It's going to be a lot of work, and the U.S. is so stacked with people - even to make the U.S. team. But I'm looking forward to making a run at it. It's going to be fun.
SDN: With U.S. Freeskiing's (FIS/USSA's) relatively new involvement in the sport and with it likely determining the Olympic team, are you happy with the organization as the new governing body?
Brown: Yeah, I think it's sweet, for sure. It's just kind of different. Everyone's getting used to it. I don't really know the process of how it's all going work for the Olympics. I think everyone is being pretty mellow about it. There isn't one governing body saying, "This is how we're going to do it. This is the only way we're going to do it." Everyone is really open to maintain the purity of our sport because our sport is so unique. As long as that's preserved, I think it's going to be awesome. As of right now, it's all good, from my point of view.
SDN: What are you working on technically in your skiing? Any new tricks on the horizon?
Brown: Probably. I'm working on my natural spins, and stuff like that. But I really want to work on my rails because that's a weak point in my slope runs - I'm not sure if it's a weak point, but they definitely don't match up to my jumps. So I'm really stoked to take some time this summer to get down on some rails.