Gorsuch gets Xtreme: Top halfpipe skiers using shop’s new technology
EAGLE-VAIL — At the X Games on Thursday three of the top five skiers had a unique connection through Vail — they were all assisted by new technology being employed by Gorsuch.
The shop just opened a new tuning center in Eagle-Vail, where a state-of-the-art facility uses high-tech machinery and new tools like 3D imaging of the foot to provide the best possible combination of skis and boots for X Games pros to regular Joes.
Behind it is a boot-fitter by the name of Dano Bruno, who made a name for himself among the country’s best freeskiers by working with Tanner Hall in the 2000s. This year, Bruno fitted Thursday’s winner, David Wise, along with third-place finisher Torin Yater Wallace and Avon local Taylor Seaton, who finished fifth. Bruno also worked with Seaton as a ski designer and technician.
“Gorsuch believes in these high-level athletes, not just for who they are and what they’re doing, but most of all the knowledge they bring to the overall operation, and how that level of detail can impact the regular consumer,” Bruno said. “That’s why I was there at all. Gorsuch flew me to Aspen from (a trade show) in Denver just to be there for the competition.”
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In an icy, 22-foot halfpipe, skiers must be absolutely perfect in their edge control as they launch off the surface, 15 to 20 feet into the air. Too much slack in either direction means hitting the top-deck surface near the spectators, or landing four stories below in the middle of the pipe.
Preparing a ski for a top-level halfpipe event is similar to preparing a ski for a top-level alpine event. A new ski must have each edge carved out to the right degree on each side.
“I went through six pairs of skis this season, most of them at comps here in Colorado,” Seaton said this week. “Gorsuch’s new shop has a (Montana Saphire 2) machine so they can get the new skis perfect again by the next morning.
“But it’s not just the machine,” Seaton adds. “They also have the right people to use the machine and switch the grinds for specific conditions, which can be hard to find. That’s why I think it’s a perfect match with Gorsuch and guys like Dano and Johnathan (Weyatt, former World Cup ski cross tech who now works at Gorsuch), they have the best experts and the resources to invest in the top technology for them.”
HELPING THE TEAM
Seaton, at 27, joined the U.S. Ski Team this season after a career of going it alone, he said.
Of course, in that time he was not alone at all. Bruno helped him with tuning and tech work, boot-fitting, and the two shared an athlete-and-coach-like relationship.
“Taylor reminded me of Tanner Hall in how smart they were about the nuances of their equipment,” Bruno said. “I knew right away that he was a special kind of athlete.”
Over the better part of the last decade, Bruno and Seaton have been showing up to competitions including X Games, the U.S. Grand Prix and the Dew Tour, where Seaton has performed on par with U.S. Ski Team athletes, making himself a regular in the top 10.
In the 2016-17 season, Seaton made the objective requirement to receive an invite to the U.S. team. Sensing he would need the additional resources it would provide this season, Seaton jumped on the opportunity.
Now, he says, he has grown to love the atmosphere of the team.
“The group of athletes and coaches the U.S. has right now is a special group, for sure,” Seaton said. “I know halfpipe is kind of an American thing but other ski countries take it seriously because it takes true skiing skills, so of course countries like Switzerland and France always want to show those different skills of skiing that they have. But at the Olympics this year I think you’re going to see the U.S. do really well, due partly to the intense selection process leading up to it. Being a part of that was amazing – two podiums in five World Cup events made the team, and seven different guys had one podium, so that shows you the kind of depth the U.S. has.”
For the future, Seaton sees an even closer relationship forming with Gorsuch and the team.
“I see Gorsuch and their tools and talent as one more way the U.S. team, which is already so good, can be even more dominant, at these Colorado competitions especially,” Seaton said. “And guys like David and Torin are such big names in the sport, when they’re relying on a company with the best people and the best technology available, other people will see that and want to use that to dial in their equipment. I know that’s true because I already saw that happen with Tanner Hall and Dano.”
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.