Written by by Staff Writer
Staring down a big wave from his beach house, Maverick Vuytenro learned that while a freestyle skier can often be invincible on a run, nothing is invincible when you’re scrambling for your life.
That proved particularly true in August, when the Mauro editor-in-chief had seconds to react as one of the most deadly waves he’d ever encountered formed in his harbor.
“This is one of the fastest walls I’ve ever seen. It almost wipes you out. Suddenly you feel like you’re floating — can’t control it. A man came up to me and told me ‘don’t stop, never stop,’” he says, recalling the moment he saw the huge wall emerging.
“I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go and I don’t know how to swim. I was floating in the water, pretty disoriented.”
As the Australian skier recovered from the bruising experience, all he could think about was protecting his wife, their family and his home.
It was at that point Vuytenro decided to go out on a ski, powered by his adrenaline, after being given permission by authorities to go out in the water.
“As soon as I got on the ski, the adrenaline kick in, and I grabbed it as soon as possible. The skis are like two arms. We jumped in and we just jumped in,” he said.
Six decades of leadership
When Vuytenro first started at Maverick’s it wasn’t such a great idea for him to go out on a ski. His prior experience of ski boarding was confined to the Instagrams of Instagram.
His past experience consisted of hills in Melbourne and Scandinavia where he held down jobs while he made a living running successful advertising companies.
In 2012, after the sudden death of his mother, he quit his job at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and skied full-time.
He turned his back on the advertising world, traveling around the world and living in a number of countries.
“In ski racing, you learn to take a big risk, which is really important for an athlete. Not to go to jump the well that you can jump. People have to be strong enough mentally, physically and tactically to make their own decisions, and that’s what we’re trying to do with Maverick’s.”
It was only after he started to ski around the world that his passion for his sport blossomed.
Maverick Vuytenro in South America at Salar de Uyuni, where he holds the World Cup record for longest run on a ski (183 meters) on his day. Credit: Roberto Sierra/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
“As a race athlete, you just have to do it. You are not here for the money, you are here for the thrill. One moment and you’re gone.”
Vuytenro and Maverick’s competitors this year marked the 60th anniversary of the motorsport organization behind the WSL Open series, the world’s largest winter mountain resort. The last complete world championships were held in 1960.
This year the Maverick’s was created to push the limits in the extreme off-piste areas. The Mauro community have given him a base, and he organizes four races in September.
Despite his extremely safe move on August 3, Vuytenro says some people still had strong opinions.
“There are some that think I have too much control of the situation, that I didn’t take my skis off when I should have, but we got advice about it,” he says.
“The whole situation is irrelevant. I had enough information about how to ski a barrel on a skis, and that’s what I did.”
Vuytenro says he supports ski safety rules and can’t see the need for new regulations. He also feels the world should applaud ski-lovers like himself.
“Extreme ski riding has an amazing art in it,” he says. “It isn’t the perfect example of following a “10” for a perfect run, but it’s a great sport.”