Action County: Matthew Wade excels in skiing, kayaking |

Action County: Matthew Wade excels in skiing, kayaking

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

FRISCO ” Matthew Wade has skied at 47 different ski areas in eight countries on three different continents, within seven months ” all last season.

When the amazing journey was over, he traded in his ski poles for a kayak paddle ” just like he does every summer.

“Kayaking is a lot like skiing because you have a different line to look through. When you’re skiing, it’s kind of like reading the mountain, and you read the river when you’re on the river,” Wade said. “It’s very similar because you have a line you need to choose.”

Wade moved to Colorado in 1992 from Ishpeming, Mich., with only a backpack and $200 in his pocket. While working at a ski shop in Winter Park, he competed in moguls on the Rocky Mountain Freestyle circuit.

“When Berthoud pass re-opened, I did an event there and ended up doing really well,” Wade said. “That kind of got me to break into big mountain skiing, and then big mountain skiing led into skier-cross. I didn’t have much racing background, but I kind of figured it out and just ran with it.”

Wade’s success in big mountain and skier-cross eventually landed him some sponsorships and the opportunity to travel and compete all over the world.

“I have been able to go to New Zealand, Japan and Europe a number of times, because three years ago I got on the World Cup circuit for skier-cross,” Wade said. “It was kind of a dual purpose for me. I wanted to educate myself as far as competing on the World Cup level as well as become a better TD (technical delegate) and judge.”

In 2003, Wade decided to move to Frisco because there was a larger spectrum of ski resorts, competitions and opportunities for him to grow as an athlete.

This past season, he took a back seat in racing and focused more on building courses and judging. He was also asked to be the assistant chief of course and help build the North American skier-cross World Cup course in Deer Valley, Utah.

When Wade isn’t skiing, judging or building skier-cross courses, he is focused on his other passion ” white-water kayaking.

“About five years ago, an old girlfriend of mine got me into it. I went out on the upper Colorado and it was running at about 5,000 CFS (cubic feet per second),” Wade said. “I swam twice, didn’t quite have my roll down but fell in love with the sport right then and there.”

Wade took to the sport very quickly and started kayaking as much as he could. As more kayak play-parks started popping up around Summit County, he became even more intrigued with it.

“I started getting into that, learning how to do tricks and spins, it was sort of like freestyle skiing, something I had a background in,” Wade said. “It just made a whole new realm of kayaking for me. The play-park really appealed to me because it was more like a slopestyle or halfpipe.”

His love of play-parks eventually turned into a career move. Last month Wade opened his own kayak shop located on Ten Mile Creek.

“Frisco was thinking about building a play-park on Ten Mile Creek right near where I live, so I got involved with the town a little bit and gave my input,” Wade said. “I actually got to work with the company that built the park and learned a lot more about the river. At the same time, I was thinking about buying some commercial property near the kayak park and it just kind of all tied together.”

He doesn’t favor one of his beloved sports more than the other, and thinks of it more as two passions he splits between the changing seasons.

“It’s kept me young, vibrant and healthy, just the lifestyle of being a competitor. Even though I’ve stopped doing World Cup skier-cross, I might dabble next year, and I will do some big-mountain comps. I hope to some day do some kayaking comps as I get better,” he said. “Regardless of whether I do it for myself or trying to win money, I’ll be an athlete until my dying days. That’s just something that stays with you. Once you’re an athlete, you’re always an athlete.”

Check out a video of Wade in the Frisco kayak park behind his shop and hear more about how he relates kayaking to skiing, click the link under “web extras”.

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