A retired FWQ competitor and big mountain connoisseur, Folsom athlete Tom Runcie has quite possibly the most years on skis of any ambassador. We recently caught up with Tom on his competition days, balancing family and skiing, and his favorite ski experiences in Canada…
Tell us about your ski background – where and how did you start skiing?
I grew up in Vermont and learned how to ski first at Cochran’s Ski Area on their handle tow and t-bar, then at Mad River Glen. My older brother Dan led the way and I would chase him and try to do what he did as we explored the mountain. I remember a single day in 11th grade where school was cancelled and I went up solo to ski Mad River; it was fat and surfy, and as I was zen-cruising through the trees near Fall Line, I realized that I needed this exact feeling to be a part of my life forever.
What was your experience in the competitive skiing realm? (Don’t be bashful)
I entered my first big mountain comp at Crested Butte in 2009. The crew I was skiing with was all going to do it and I was able to buy a spot at the last minute. I kinda bubbled my way through the qualifier on day one, then skied well in CB’s Hourglass venue in the finals and ended up 10th. That result qualified me for the next season, so I kept going. I was always pretty hit or miss, with a few great results and a bunch of crashes as well. My favorite part was always how the added pressure of competition led me to try moves that were beyond my comfort zone, and how that helped progress my day-to-day skiing. My highlights were two second-place finished at home in Crested Butte, two third-place finished in Taos and Snowboard, my Sickbird award in Snowbird, and a run that was alllllmost great in Kirkwood.
You’re based in Crested Butte now – how’d you end up there?
My now-wife Laurel and I were living in Las Vegas in 2008, while she taught elementary school. We both came from smaller towns and wanted to get back into the country, and the mountains. We moved to CB as the great recession was starting, but were lucky to be able to get a foothold in town. We considered moving on a couple times but by 2011 we had established a great friend group and were so enjoying the adventure available to us that we decided to stick around. This is our 15th winter in CB, and now we’re excited to be raising a family here.
Resort vs. touring, and why?
Man, I have a hard time picturing a season without one or the other. They serve different purposes for me, but both are pretty essential to my mental well-being. Resort skiing is exercise, repetition, technique, and creativity. Touring is focus, problem-solving, teamwork, adventure, and of course snow quality.
Your content reflects a seemingly annual trip to British Columbia – without giving away your favorite spots, what keeps you going back there year after year?
I make it no secret that the Esplanade Range holds a special place on my heart. I have 4 backcountry hut trips up there since 2014 and am counting days until my next. The terrain and snow quality are the best I’ve ever skied, and having a week to explore an area with my best friends, completely free of distractions, is the best vacation I can imagine.
You’re one of the more senior members of the Folsom athlete team. How do you balance skiing with family obligations?
It’s a tough balance, and my lovely wife has definitely been doing more than her share in the winter months. I’m lucky to be able to take ski breaks from work when it’s good, and can get a solid ski day in each weekend. I’m also teaching my 3 year old to ski, which is a rollercoaster every time but also some of my favorite moments with him. One thing I’ll say is that my dad friends and I have gotten very good at hitting it hard whenever we have a window to get on the hill, whether it’s 2 runs or 20!
How about your 2 favorite Folsom builds from over the years?
Top spot goes to my 190cm Rapture. I have them mounted with CAST Free Tour bindings and use them for 95% of my backcountry skiing. They are predictable and effortless in any kind of 3D snow, and are maybe the most intuitive ski I’ve ever owned. Love at first run.
Next up is my new 184cm Primary 104. I haven’t had a ton of days on them because it’s been snowing non-stop this season, but they’re quick, powerful, and love to be skied hard on the edge. Plus, in the shorter length they’re great for skiing with the kiddo.
Ski plans for the rest of the ’23 season? And beyond?
CB is so stacked and the backcountry has been relatively safe of late. With a new baby travel is pretty much off the table but I’m not sure where else I’d want to go anyway. I have a long list of lines both inbounds and out yonder that I would love to take a stab at with the conditions the way they are. I’ll be sure to keep the GoPro handy so I can share the ones I can make happen!
Catch Tom ripping around at Crested Butte, or keep up with him via Instagram here.