Real Ski 2016: Meet the judges

ESPN and the World of X Games present the first all-urban, all-ski, all-video all-X Games contest, Real Ski. Videos drop, and voting begins, on February 10. Tune in to ABC February 20 for the full behind-the-scenes show.

Real Ski is taking the cameras from the backcountry to the bus stop with the debut of a video competition featuring the hard knock, gritty and sometimes gross world of street skiing's finest professionals.

The event's judges are an expert panel when it comes to street skiing -- from athletes to magazine editors and longtime filmmakers with an eye for talent. We caught up with a few of them to get a better grasp on the complexities of street skiing and what it is going to take to win X Games gold.

Judge: Jeff Schmuck
Age: 35
Occupation: Founding Editor of Forecast Ski Magazine, Communications Director of AFP World Tour

A veteran of the ski world, Jeff Schmuck judged the last three years of Real Ski Backcountry and served as the head judge of the annual International Freeski Film Festival (iF3) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Yes, his last name is actually Schmuck and he's been called "The Paris Hilton of the ski industry."

What are you looking for out of these edits? 
We'll definitely want to see some "wow" factor complemented by jaw-dropping tricks, creativity and diversity in urban environments. But I've always felt strongly that what makes any ski edit, video, movie, etc. great is when you want to watch it over and over again.

Why does Real Ski in the street environment make sense for the Real Series? 
It was time, as urban skiing has become a big and incredibly exciting part of the sport. It's evolved from a few athletes having a few urban shots in their film segments to guys like Cam Riley and Clayton Vila making feature-length, urban-focused films. In addition to that, much like skateboarding, the thing I've always liked about urban is how accessible it is. If there's snow on the ground, and a feature that works, you can make something happen, which opens up a world of possibilities for young skiers to take advantage of.

So, much like with Real Ski Backcountry, it's great to see these athletes have the chance to participate in X Games and potentially win a medal, as the majority of them wouldn't have that opportunity otherwise. 

Judge: Doug Bishop
Age: 36
Occupation: General Manager of Newschoolers

Colorful characters like Doug Bishop are part of what makes the world of skiing a beautiful masterpiece. A father of two and happy husband, Bishop has served a variety of roles in the ski industry, from digger to digital architect. As General Manager of Newschoolers, Bishop goes beyond traditional GM job duties by going into the field, meeting the people and having a damn good time along the way. If skiing has a Bernie Sanders -- a man of the people, if you will -- that person is Doug Bishop.

What can people expect to see on TV when Real Ski airs?
Street skiing is some of the most technical, gnarly [expletive] people do on skis. It's very fitting as an action sport, bringing skiing into a place that most people can understand. I think it's the most possible perfect fit for the X Games, and there is no single better way to show it than with video.  

What's the formula for judging this event?
They have to hit all elements across the board -- style, creativity, unique choice of features, technicality and consequence. 

We have a formula that has been agreed upon for the contest. It's important that judging has a set of criteria you stick to -- and I'll be sticking to it. 

Judge: Freedle Coty
Age: 31
Occupation: Cinematographer, part-time log home restoration master

Freedle Coty is a skier's skier, a film guy with an authentic eye for matching athletes and terrain. He's been doing this for ten years with Level 1 Productions and knows firsthand what it's like to create a segment like a Real Ski Street -- from the guerrilla cat-and-mouse filming tactics in city environments, to editing under tight deadlines, and all of the human toil and risk that comes with that style of skiing. 

What are you looking for in these edits?
I'm looking for style, flow and innovation.

Why does Real Ski in the street environment make sense for the Real Series?
First and foremost, it has been a very successful flagship contest in the Real Snow series, which is a close cousin of Real Ski. Street skiing has matured into a major part of ski films over the last decade, and has produced several iterations of professional level skiers who spend most of their winters doing exactly this -- many of whom were invited to enter the Real Ski contest. It has also been a hotbed of progression for freestyle skiing in general and deserves this kind of spotlight. 

Judge: Vincent Gagnier
Age: 22 Occupation: Professional Skier, X Games Big Air gold medalist

Vinnie "Cash" Gagnier hails from a proud Québec tradition of next-level-thinking professional skiers. He took the X Games Aspen 2015 Big Air title with his creative grabs mixed into his off-axis tricks that place him left of center when it comes to competition sensibilities. Simply put, the kid makes skiing look great. Also, Gagnier might be the biggest "Star Wars" fan in snow sports.

What makes you qualified to judge this event?
I know what those guys are going through. I'll compare my thoughts and feelings to the other judges'. I have a better understanding of what is harder and what is not.

What are you looking for out of these edits?
I'd like to see tricks and spots that haven't been done before. Let's see something fresh that will blow my mind.

How will you judge them?
I think what's most important for them is to have a part with a little bit of everything -- big rails, tech rails, wall rides, urban lines, style and the "wow" factor.

Why does Real Ski in the street environment make sense for the Real Series?
They've been doing it for years for snowboarders. It was time to let the skiers get the same exposure and a chance at an X Games medal. I'm sure this can't do anything bad to our sport.


What was the best part of The Force Awakens? Do you think it sets up Episode VIII well?
The opening crawl or when we get to see Luke ... that is when I got the most chills. Episode VIII should be even better, and I can't wait to see the story develop.

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