Chatting with the Pros: Parker White on Creating His Perfect Ski (and the Perfect Mullet)

Published on 02/09/2023 · 15 min readSki Expert Hayden Wright sits with Rossignol skier Parker White to talk about helping design the perfect ski, skiing as a grom, and his new movie “Something.”
Hayden Wright, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Hayden Wright

Photo by Blake Jorgensen

Parker White is a ripping freeskier from the East who has since migrated West, fully embracing the PNW stoke. Parker has been skiing professionally for a while now and has been on Rossignol skis the entire time. He and his teammates had a lot to say in the design of the BlackOps series of skis, majorly influencing this iconic ski. In addition, Parker has been in many Level One ski movies.

I was so excited to meet Parker officially and get to chat after watching him ski in movies for most of his career. Not only is he an incredible skier, but he’s also super easy to talk to and friendly. When I head to Mt. Hood this summer, I hope to link up with Parker, ski, and have some Rainier beers with him on the hill!

Watch our conversation below or read on to see what we chatted about!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where'd you grow up?

I grew up in Dorset, Vermont, in the southern part of the state. I skied Bromley Mountain as a young kid, and when I got a little older, I skied Mount Snow a lot more.

Did you grow up racing like a lot of pro skiers do? Some people started racing, then said, "No, that's not for me. I'm going to start hitting jumps."

I raced for one year when I was about nine years old. My dad coached racing at the Bromley Outing Club for almost 20 years, and my mom was a ski racer on the East Coast, so I came from a racing background and family. But I started just doing freestyle pretty early, when I was maybe 10 years old.

You started racing and found out that hits and jumps are a little better than going fast. I know about your background, but some of the people that are watching today might not. Would you say Level 1's kind of where you got started getting some traction and started filming and putting out segments?

As far as my actual career goes, it definitely all started through Level 1. Before that, I'd been filming with my friends since I was 12. I filmed a lot with the whole Montage Crew in Mammoth and stuff when I was younger. And then I started filming full-time with Level 1 when I was 19. Everything kind of took off from there.

Where are you nowadays? Are you still out East?

No, I live in Maple Falls, Washington. It's in between Bellingham and Mount Baker ski areas.

One of these days, I want to go out and watch you guys session that Baker gap. That thing is gnarly.

Yeah. Baker, in general, has got a lot of good ones. That's for sure. I don't think I hit the road gap this year. I've hit it a bunch in years past, but it was a weird year for whatever reason. December [snowfall] was really good, but it wasn't good again until April.

Can you give us any teasers on your current project? Are there some Baker shots in there for that famous road gap?

We had a couple of pockets. I filmed and rode up in BC a lot this year, between Nelson and Revelstoke areas and then out on the coast. This year, the whole movie is set in those two places in New Denver and Pemberton, and there's like one Baker clip.

“Nothing” was a sweet film. I was lucky enough to see it here in Denver. What are you working on this year?

I appreciate it. We filmed the finale of the “Nothing” trilogy, as I like to call it. It was “Nothing,” “Nothing New,” and now it's “Something.” It's kind of a similar style movie, maybe like eight or nine minutes just of everything we got up to last season. It actually comes out this weekend. I'm going down to Denver for the premiere. However, I haven't fully figured out this year’s movie, although I've got some ideas. I don't want to say anything too soon.

I love your guys' take on skiers and snowboarders all just hanging out, having fun. It's nice and refreshing just seeing you getting out there.

You also ride for Rossignol, one of the OG ski brands. When I think Rossi, I think Parker. How long have you been with Rossi?

Good. I like that. I think I got my first pair of skis [from Rossignol] when I was 13, so that's almost 20 years now.

You recently started working on these Black Ops designs with Rossi for the past couple of seasons. How hands-on were you with designing, testing, and all that fun stuff?

They asked us what we wanted to make as our ideal ski, and we gave them our general dimensions, flex, rocker patterns, weight, and everything we wanted. And they sent us the first sample \of the [Blackops Gamer 118] and asked, “What do you think?” We said, “Don't change anything. You guys nailed it. Perfect first take.”

And they were like, “Really? Nothing? No feedback?” We responded with, “No, just don't mess this up. Just make it exactly like this.” So it was more with sample materials when we first got them, but by the time it actually went to production, it was full poplar, nice, crisp, finished product.

It was pretty casual. They just knocked it right out of the park on the first go. And since then, we haven't changed anything in the ski. It's the same ski now as it was for that very first sample.

Photo by Blake Jorgensen

Nice. Well, that's the famous saying, if it's not broke, don't fix it. What was your first set of skis when you decided to leave racing behind and enter the freeskiing world?

I don't even know what model they were, but they were like the Fischer twin-tips. The skis were blue with a camo background. And then I got some Dynastar skis with the cow print. I believe it was a Concept. However, the first pair of skis that I was really excited about were the Mike Nick Pro Models. I think I got those for Christmas one year when I was 12 or 13. They were so cocked up in the back that they'd blast a huge rooster tail when I skied. I was like, “Oh, I'm a twin-tip skier. Everyone's going to see me going down the mountain. I’m a freestyle skier now.” I was repping it.

Are you still with 686 as far as outerwear goes?

Yes, definitely. I've been with 686 for maybe five years now.

Do you have anything in the works with them, such as new jackets? I saw they have one that holds a bunch of PBRs!

Yes, 686 is the best. The team manager is Pat McCarthy. He lives in Bellingham and has another place in Glacier, so I see him a lot. That's one of my main and favorite riding buddies up at the hill. He's a super cool dude. The Glacier crew and Pat McCarthy are the best. I did get to do a custom colorway of one of the GORE-TEX jackets, and I think that'll be dropping this fall.

Did you have any input on the jackets and more, other than your style and fit or features that you wanted to see in your gear?

No. Honestly, I'm not that particular, and the stuff 686 already makes is so nice. I don't need more tech or pockets or anything. They give me my nice GORE-TEX shell, and I'm stoked. As I said, I got a custom colorway. But other than that, I had them keep all the jackets and pants as they were because I love the stuff they have now. It would be hard for me to improve on that.

Are you bibs or pant guy?

If I'm riding pow, like mid-season, I go with bibs, and then as soon as it's spring, sunny, or I'm skiing park or whatever, I’m a pants guy.

What's your hot take on the onesies? Yay or nay?

They're not really for me; but if that's your thing, I'm not standing in the way. I'm all for it. Do you. I hope everybody wears whatever they want.

Photo by Blake Jorgensen

How long have you been a pro skier now?

I think this will be my 12th or 13th season as a pro skier.

It's not easy on the body. So what do you do in the summertime? Are you going down to Chile and hanging out in the Southern Hemisphere, or are you swinging a hammer?

This year I'm quite literally swinging a hammer. I've been helping my buddy, Ryan, build his place in the springs, so that's been super cool. I helped build a deck project last year, but this is the first year I've been doing a real build from start to finish. We're about to get into siding, windows, and drilling beams. You name it. I've been working on that pretty much all summer. We had an awesome [building] crew, and that's been super fun.

But where I'm from, as far as skiing goes, it's not super far to get down to Hood. So I'll maybe go down to Hood once a summer or something. But I'm usually just honestly skating and chilling. I enjoy my summers as a summertime thing.

A little downtime is good for everybody. So will you be picking back up, or do you have a big ski premiere tour lined up here in the fall, getting everybody amped up?

Yes, pretty much. I'm going to Denver this weekend. We're doing the world premiere of “Something,” with a bunch of other Level 1 and crew movies, like Child Labor, Forre, Laura Obermeyer will be there, as will Mango and Alex Hall.The tour goes on to a bunch of different stops, but I'm just doing Denver and Seattle.

I have a trip to France planned to visit the Rossignol headquarters and kick it off with everybody. It's going to be super fun to get everybody back together again. I haven't been to an actual Rossignol function like that since pre-COVID!

What are some of your favorite skiing achievements besides the Rainier sponsorship? That's a pretty sweet sponsorship.

The Rainier sponsorship is awesome. And thank you, Sean McKillop and everyone at Rainier, because that was a total dream come true.

I've had a long history of beer sponsorships, inspirations, and things throughout my career. A funny backstory to that is, years ago, I skied for Old Milwaukee Beer. I had the Old Milwaukee Beer sponsorship, but my connection left and [we were] phased out. But Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Company owns Old Milwaukee. So, all of us got fired by Old Milwaukee, and then I was rehired by Rainier Beer, also owned by Pabst Blue Ribbon. Essentially, I got fired and rehired by Pabst! I was so happy though. I love Rainier Beer! Unbiased opinion—that’s all I drink from the grocery store here.

And even further back story to that is, Bromley Mountain, where I grew up skiing, was owned by Fred Pabst from Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewing. So the whole east side of the mountain there, it's like Pabst Barrel, Pabst Panic, Pabst Blue Ribbon Quad, everything is Pabst themed and named.

I know you were a big comp skier when you were younger, but do you have any other kinds of achievements, big movie awards, or statues?

My proudest ski-specific segment I've filmed was the Level 1 movie, “Zig Zag." I got the closer [segment] for “Zig Zag.” I think that's my favorite segment that I've ever filmed. I just felt like I was skiing the best, and it was just a cool season, and I've always really cherished and liked that segment. And I really like the original “Nothing” movie that we made as well. Those and Big Picture as well. The early segments I've done with Level 1.

I know you've gotten to ski all over the world, but is there anywhere that's on your radar that if anybody throws a hint of being interested in going skiing somewhere, you're going to jump on it, no questions asked?

If I could go anywhere with all expenses paid, I'd like to go to Haines, Alaska. That's my “white whale,” if you will. My “Cassandra” is Haines, Alaska. Yeah, I've watched so much footi from there. It just looks incredible, and I've always really wanted to go to Haines. That would be super sick.

The spines there are gnarly. The videos don't do it justice. I haven't personally skied there, but I've been there. I consider myself a decent skier, but that's the proving ground, I think.

It looks incredible.

I wish I still had my mullet. It looks like you tuned yours up, but I didn't know if there was any funny story about your first mullet, or do you just grow your hair out and then chop it off into a mullet? Is that the cycle of life?

Yeah, it was just the cycle of life. I just cut a mullet a while ago, and one of the funny stories about the mullet is I was partying in this bar we built called the Oiler in Montana. Chris [Logan] and I were partying together, and I was like, "Dude, I'm going to have a mullet for the rest of my life. I know it." And he was like, "No, you're not. One day you'll cut it." And I was like, "Dude, no, I won't. I'm going to have a mullet forever." And he's like, "You want to bet?" I was like, "Yeah, I'll bet."

So Chris and I actually were in a lifelong bet where if I cut my mullet, I would have to give him $20, and he could slap me in the face as hard as he could. And I cut my mullet! I'm going to see him on the France trip soon. But if I kept my mullet until the day that I died, he would have to slap me at my open-casket funeral in front of all my friends and family. So that was our big, lifelong mullet bet, which I lost. He and I have done a lot of hair-cutting and stupid bets and stuff in the past, and I think we're like one for one now because I won the last hair-cutting bet, and then he took this whole idea.

That's funny. I have only met two people who said, “It's just my hairstyle.” There's always a funny story behind the mullet—a lost bet or a bet.

Yeah, I think I might be wise enough. I'm 31 now, so maybe I'm smarter than to keep making these bets with Dahrkness [Chris Logan]. But I wouldn't be surprised if another one came up.

Because I just cut a mullet and had a mullet, all of these kids on Instagram started sending me photos of mullets, and I thought it was hilarious. So I was reposting kids' mullets, and they were super stoked. But I met this kid in person once in Montana, and he was like, "Oh dude, do you remember me? Do you recognize me?" And I'm like, "Dude, I'm really sorry. I don't think that I do, but refresh my memory." And he's like, "Oh yeah, I cut a mullet, and you posted it on your story." And I was like, "Oh cool. Right on." He's like, "Yeah, when my mom saw that haircut on me, she cried." Yeah. I mean, I made a mother cry from her son's haircut.

That could have fallen into the skiing achievements! You're a seasoned veteran now. What advice would you share for the next generation of skiers, the young and up-and-coming kids?

In all my years of skiing, the most important thing is never to lose track of why you initially started skiing and always hang on to that feeling of pure joy. And if you're having so much fun, you're doing it right. Unfortunately, I see people become so consumed by skiing because they want others to see them ski.

And I think it's important to remember that we're just playing on sleds on our feet, and it's the most enjoyable feeling in the world. So always keep that in mind and keep it pure, and enjoy what you're doing. There are no rules, so do whatever you want all the time.

I love it. That's what I think they need to hear. Well, that wraps it up. Thank you, Parker, for chatting. Maybe I’ll catch you at the Denver premiere here this weekend.

Thank you guys so much for having me on, and I'll see you on Saturday, for sure. That's going to be a ton of fun!

There you have it! I was stoked to get to chat with Parker as I grew up watching him in the Level 1 ski movies. It was so cool hearing about how he started skiing—as a racer that moved over to the dark side to become a full-time freeskier. Parker White is an absolute ripping skier, skater, carpenter, mullet connoisseur, and an all-around chill dude. It was a pleasure getting to chat with him and hear his story. Hoping to link up and ride with an ice-cold Rainier if I’m ever in his neck of the woods.

If you liked hearing from one of the greats, keep an eye out because there’s more coming! If you’re curious about getting into skiing or upgrading your gear, get linked up with me or another Ski Expert here on Curated! We’re all friendly, passionate skiers ready to help you understand the gear and find you the deals on your next setup. We’ll get you kitted and fitted for a fun season on the slopes with this inspo from Parker!

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