Outsiders: Logan LaPlante

[Editor's note: Freeskiing has always been a sport that's strived to remain unconfined, counterculture and limitless; free, by its very name. This interview series celebrates that freedom of individuality by featuring people in the freeskiing world who are paving their own way, doing things with their own style. They are the Outsiders. Stay tuned next Friday for the next installment.]

Every spring and summer, kids flood the Internet with season edits of their energy-drink-chugging antics from the past winter. One edit, however, stands out above the rest. It's on a YouTube channel known for its ideas and intellect, not its shredding. Young freeskier Logan LaPlante's TedTalk, given at the University of Nevada in Reno earlier this winter, has 285,000 views and counting. Tahoe-based LaPlante, 13 -- who's a budding filmer and designer -- talks about what he wants to be when he grows up and how he's taken his education into his own hands, a term he calls hackschooling.

Third grade was my last year in public school. Fourth grade was my first year of homeschooling. We weren't hackschooling then. My mom didn't know what to do. We were really just trying to figure things out.

We started hackschooling in fifth grade. We started doing survival classes and we did physics classes where we built giant Newton's Cradles and lots of crazy, fun experiments. We did a lot of hands-on, outdoor stuff. For me, if it's not hands on, I can't pay attention.

My math is online. Some of my programs are online. We do geometry and writing and I have textbooks for all of that.

My mom is a teacher, but she's more like the organizer. Now, I'm starting to organize my own education because I'll be going into high school soon. I have lots of teachers. My aunt is one of my science teachers, my friend's mom is my writing teacher and we'll do writing classes with her once a week and study a book.

I've never really been into organized sports. I've always done the weirdest stuff. I do jujitsu, I ski, I bike. I compete in those sports.

I don't know what I'm missing by not going to a traditional school. Maybe school busses.

I do want to go to college. I'm aiming toward design, film and writing.

I'll go hang out with some designers at Big Truck or Moment Skis and they'll help me with goals I'm trying to get toward like designing clothes. I just designed my first two hats. They just came in.


Logan LaPlante, 13, is a young freeskier that gave a popular Ted Talk recently on the subject of "hackschooling."

My goals in skiing are to not get hurt and keep skiing. I'm not like my little brother, Cody. I don't necessarily want to be a pro skier. I love it. I do want to start filming though with big companies like Matchstick as a cinematographer.

I've never been constantly on the podiums like a lot of my friends and my brother. I'm on a very competitive ski team and I'm not necessarily the best. It's a park team, but I do more big mountain. I've always been into filming the whole team and making videos. I've been doing that since I was nine. It's opened up cool opportunities.

My TedTalk started out as a school project. I've been doing this program for public speaking for four years. We pick out a character in history. We study them, write and rewrite. And then we speak to 60 to a couple hundred people about the person. I've done Al Capone, Billy the Kid and Sir Edmund Hillary. This year, I wanted to do something different, so my dad suggested I do a TedTalk.

I didn't think it would be that big. I'd been working on it for 60 days and I didn't like it so I got lots of feedback from people and they were telling me to take out the Shane [McConkey] part and the skiing and the hacker mindset, which I thought were the best parts. Two weeks before my talk, I started again from scratch. I wrote it out several times. I memorized it in three days. I was lucky it blew up.

Shane McConkey has always been my favorite skier. When I was little, I remember every year seeing him at Squaw. He's still my favorite skier. Nobody can out ski Shane. Ever.

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