We caught up with Giray Dadali and talked about the pressures of skiing as a career, getting past a life-changing injury and what we can all do to save freeskiing from itself.
You might know Giray from the Newschoolers community and as Ahmet’s Brother. He grew up skiing in park comps on the east coast, moved west to chase powder 8 years ago and knows all about about the pressure of wanting to be a pro and how chasing a skiing career changes your life.
To save freeskiing from itself, we need to go big because we want to, not because we want a million Instagram followers.
Q: What’s your brother up to these days?
A: Hahahaha… I don’t know man why don’t you check social media.
Q: We finally had a real winter in Utah this year, what’s the best part so far?
A: I went up to Whitewater BC and the trip was an eye opener. It’s a dreamland full of pillows and perfect lines that don’t disappear just because the sun comes out.
The Wasatch are a great launching pad, but there are so many people gunning for the same line or jump before the sun gets it. It was refreshing to not worry about that for a change.
Q: What’s your main mountain in Utah?
A: It’s my 2nd season at Snowbird. I’ve had passes all over the Wastach, and Snowbird just has the best terrain. I love Alta, too, but I don’t have a pass there this year.
Q: You got to ski in Chile last year, how’d that happen?
A: Poor Boyz Productions and their Undiscovered comp made that possible. They took five of us the trip of a lifetime. Filming with them has been a dream since watching Propoganda on VHS.
Turns out, I’m still undiscovered…
Q: But you’re famous on Newschoolers?
A: Ha, well I joined the Newschoolers community in 2002 or 2003, right when it was getting started.
I met people from the community all over the east coast back when I was 12 and 13. I even met Matt Harvey at a comp Newschoolers sponsored back then.
Those were the days you knew people by their videos that took 20 minutes to download a segment— like the Stereotype trailer.
Q: The good old days of the internet where everything took forever… Speaking of that, do you wait for your friends on powder days?
A: If I can find them.
Q: How do you find them without playing phone tag? (Shameless Plug Alert!)
A: SNOCRU’s GPS feature makes it so easy. I just tell my friends to download it and check in when they get to the mountain. Then we can just find each other.
Q: Skiing isn’t all friends and powder days…You split your sacrum in half back in 2013, how did that happen?
A: It was at a rail comp at Big Bear. The features were huge and the conditions were bad. I dropped in anyway. My brother dropped out of the contest that day. I just wanted it so bad.
I destroyed my pelvis and had two compression fractures in my spine, too. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk, much less ski again. That day changed everything.
Q: Wow, but you’re skiing hard now, how did you come back from that?
A: I didn’t know how I was going to at first. I couldn’t walk or pay rent. Then, Will Wesson told me about the High Fives Foundation.
I sent them my story and Roy Tuscany, the Executive Director and Co-founder, said they’d love to help out.
They helped me figure out how to pay my bills and take care of all the physical therapy so I could get back to what I love to do, ski.
Q: When did you realize you were going to ski again?
A: I was working at the Aerials Ramp at the Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. I felt good enough to go off the ramp and it hurt, but I could do it. It wasn’t on snow, but it was really inspiring to do something I thought was a part of my past.
From there, I had some rods pulled out of my pelvis and that September started with a rail session in first major storm of the season. That was one of the best winters of my life.
Q: How did your injury and recovery change your perspective on skiing?
A: It pushed me away from the whole career mindset of skiing. The pressure of “I gotta produce this kind of edit and I have to compete and get sponsors…” that was gone. I was skiing every day only because I loved it, not because I had to.
It made me realize that it’s life I need to to think about. Do I want to be 40 and not be able to walk or ski?
Now, if I line up some gnarly cliff or jump, it’s because I want to.
Q: Do you think others get caught up in the pressure?
A: It’s impossible not to. The environment we’ve created as the freeskiing community feeds it. Comps keep getting bigger and bigger and athletes are throwing themselves off 90 foot jumps when the conditions are horrible because what if they don’t?
There’s so much pressure to be the biggest, and baddest. You either do it or you could lose your sponsors or not get the new ones you need to support your career.
But, who’s going to pick you up when you fall down and break yourself?
Sponsors and resorts aren’t going to pay the bills. And it’s not just about the money. That’s the least of it.
How are you going to live when you don’t have cartilage in your ankles or knees anymore?
Q: So do you think it’s worth making a life out of skiing?
A: Yes, but it has to be on your terms.
Don’t approach skiing as a career and focus on “ I need to get X sponsors and X followers…”
If you go in like that you’re going to be disappointed, to say the least. If you go in pushing your progression for yourself and loving it every day, maybe you’ll be surprised.
Go big because you want to, not because you have to and be smart enough to know if it’s the career talking in your ear, or the inner voice that always takes you to your best lines.
Q: Do you think the freeskiing world needs to check our priorities?
A: Yes, right now, the state of freeskiing feels like it’s been wrecked by everyone taking it too seriously. It’s too much of a business.
It’s really important to take a step back right now and see why we’re doing anything. Freeskiing was born out of a renegade culture.
Let’s not let people who only care about the money ruin it with over regulation and turn it into mogul skiing.
Q: You finished your mechanical engineering degree after your injury, what’s going on in that part of your life?
A: I’ve been doing a lot with it, finally! Chris Trunek and I started a company for a new alpine adapter system called Daymaker Touring. We make alpine adapters that don’t wreck your day.
You know the BCA Trekkers?
Well, we make adapters that convert your downhill to AT and they work. We’re running a spring production run and planning to have them on the market this year.
Keep an eye out for them, we’re creating them because we want you to have awesome days in the mountains.