by Brody Leven (above photo by Ian Matteson)
As I ride a bus for 12 hours through rural Colombia, destined for Pablo Escobar’s hometown, the first and most intriguing skier I think of is Ian Wade. Perhaps that is because the Colombian girl in front of me is blaring reaggaeton through her knock-off Nokia, the same cell phone that Ian rocked when he was 14. After having the pleasure of skiing with him at Surface Week at Windells this summer, my appreciation for his skillset has only been augmented by his affable self. With a Brobomb-approved style and an entrepreneurial spirit, he’s a Salt Lake mainstay approaching success from a variety of angles.
BRODY: Hey Ian. How’re things?
IAN: Hi Brody, I’m doing well. Just kicking around, working on projects in the store and trying to get some climbing days in before winter.
BRODY: You own and operate Fresh, a clothing boutique in Salt Lake. What the heck? I thought you were a skier, implying a severe lack of realistic initiative and outside influence.
IAN: I was fortunate enough to meet our boy Mike Schneider [Surface Skis president] at a young age while he was running [the late] Union skate shop. He had a huge influence on me. The stuff Mike was doing at Union seemed far ahead of what anyone else was doing at the time, and I knew I wanted to be part of something like it. Years later, when Helen, my business partner, started cooking up an idea of starting a clothing store, I had to get involved.
BRODY: How does running a shop influence your skiing? Limited ski days? Customers turning into amigos? No health insurance? Sponsoring yourself?
IAN: The customers-to-amigos question is funny. When we opened, I wanted to bring in aspects of the skate shop feel—where you can go in and kick it with rad people and not feel like you’re unwanted. A lot of customers have become good friends; one lives with me. As for the shop’s influence on my skiing, it has limited my on-hill days, but I knew that was going to happen when we opened the shop in ’09. It has made me appreciate every day I ski. Riding with friends, slappin’ 5’s to all the park crew guys I used to work with, going fast and getting a banged up is what I love about skiing, and I have grown to value it more as my days are becoming more sparse.
BRODY: Is Fresh open on powder days?
IAN: Hah, we most certainly are.
BRODY: Talk about fashion, modern skiing, and fashion in skiing.
IAN: I’ve been out of tune with modern skiing, but whenever I check in, I like bits and pieces. I like that some of the new guys on the scene are being real. You can tell things about them by the way they dress and the tricks they do. I like that there’s a weird b-boy hesher thing happening. I don’t know if that is a good way to explain it, but that’s all I can think of. You know, guys in flannels and a Carhartt-looking vest with a baseball cap and sunglasses. Like Nicky Keefer’s or Khai Krepela’s style; it’s good stuff.
BRODY: What’s coming up for Ian Wade in winter 2012-13?
IAN: This winter I will definitely get some days in at Brighton, and hope to tag along with the Surface crew on some short trips. What I’m really excited about is my January trip to the UK, but that’s got nothing to do with skiing.
BRODY: This summer, I followed you with an expensive camera, whose name ended in “D,” off a huge jump at Surface Week. As I flailed, completely ruining the shot and nearly the camera, and my life, you stomped a cab cork 7 with signature style. How do you classify your skiing?
IAN: Hah, that was the best! I love the photos from that; the last shots are completely framed by your skis as you fell deeper and deeper into the back seat. I would classify my skiing as sort of skate-style. Brighton has a great flow to its park, where you can link a ton of various features to get different lines each run. Gap this, tap that, use this mound as a jump, get one hit in the halfpipe and then bonk trees on the way to the chairlift.
BRODY: Thanks for reminding me about that awesomeness at Hood. I’m totally not embarrassed of nearly dying from a straight air. Where can fans follow you?
IAN: I put most of my social media efforts toward the shop’s outlets, so checking that out is checking me out. We just launched a site, www.freshpremiumgoods.com, and an Instagram, @fresh_of_slc.
BRODY: What does skiing need more of and less of?
IAN: Less narration.
BRODY: What gear do you rely on?
IAN: I’m a junk show, but I do rely on the “These” by Joystick and the “One Life” by Surface.
BRODY: Is it true Fresh is secretly bankrolled by Surface?
IAN: I wish.
BRODY: Can you offer me fashion advice or consultation?
IAN: Style is more important than fashion. Trends change with the season, but style is timeless.
And with that, Ian left me hanging. But this time not only fashionless, but styleless and speechless. His distinct approach to skiing is as refreshing as his off-hill entrepreneurship, modesty, and composed nature. You can find Ian on his skis or in his shop, in jeans both places.