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Seth Morrison enjoys life as a free agent

DEVON O'NEIL
summit daily news
SDS/Brad Odekirk
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In many ways, Seth Morrison and Matchstick Productions changed skiing together. Morrison brought the reckless abandon, launching mind-blowing inverted tricks off 10-story rock cliffs that few even dare to ski; and Matchstick (MSP) chronicled it, bringing the almost unbelievable images to the big screen.

The honeymoon began in the early 1990s and grew in renown each year. Morrison and Matchstick: It was a team you could count on to make your jaw drop every autumn.

Then something happened. Maybe the success shared by the two parties grew to be too great. Maybe time simply took its course, and what began as something of a friendship became more business than anything else. Morrison says he simply doesn’t like some of the skiers starring in MSP’s movies now.

Whatever the cause, this year, for the first time in his career, Morrison didn’t appear in the annual MSP release (“The Hit List”). He took one four-day trip with the MSP crew last winter, but horrid weather wiped out any chance of getting a film-worthy segment.

In a candid interview this fall, Morrison, who lives in Frisco, said he doubts he will film with Matchstick again. Instead, after more than a decade skiing almost exclusively for one company, he has officially opted for the life of a free agent.

This year, he guesses he’ll ski for Poor Boyz, Chainsaw, Tanner Hall’s The Bigger Picture company, and potentially Teton Gravity Research and Warren Miller.

Morrison has always been about skiing. He would rather leave the details to others. During the early season months, when there is not yet enough snow to go on heli-skiing trips, he still skis every day at areas around Summit, hitting rails and foraying into the inbounds terrain that he rarely gets to enjoy come January and February.

He’s been that way since he was young: a ski bum of sorts who paved his own road to success in a sport otherwise dominated by competitions. Oh, Morrison played the competitive tune, but not for long. He raced with Ski Club Vail growing up, mainly to get out of school. When he realized he wasn’t going to make the U.S. Ski Team or compete in the Olympics, he began looking for other ways to hasten his heartbeat.

He attended Western State in Gunnison for a spell after graduating high school, and spent much of his time skiing at the steeps-infested Crested Butte. Upon watching a U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships competition there, he decided to enter the following year. “I thought, ‘I could beat those guys,'” he says.

He did beat those guys, everyone but the legendary Kent Kreitler, in fact. Morrison, a 19-year-old true unknown, finished second, ahead of well-established names like Dean Cummings and Doug Coombs. Within a few weeks he was headed to Keystone to film his first Warren Miller segment. From there, Matchstick – then known as Reel Adventure Films – picked him up and gave him free reign to ski the way he wanted.

Morrison started doing things nobody had thought of. He fused terrain-park skiing with big-mountain lines and began treating massive cliffs like backyard kickers. The sport had seen its share of daredevils and explorers, but not like this. Few swallowed fear like he did. But few landed the stuff he did, either.

Morrison insists what he does is nothing special – which is probably why he holds such a singular place in the sport.

“It’s not that difficult if you have good powder,” he says. “Because if you crash, man, you don’t even feel it. That’s the one thing people don’t understand.”


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