Chatting with the Pros: Skier Tatum Monod on Her Family Legacy and Staying InspiredPublished on 07/15/2022 · 12 min readSki Expert Kelly Greene chats with professional skier Tatum Monod about her new film Passage, growing up in the ski industry, and getting ready for the upcoming season.
Photo by Blake Jorgenson
Tatum Monod was quite literally born into the ski industry. Her family owns an iconic ski shop in Banff, Canada, where she was raised and worked throughout her life. It’s no surprise then, that even after starting as a snowboarder, she was able to dive into racing and freeskiing as a teenager and start winning competitions and awards. Now that she’s been competing and filming for over a decade, it seems she just keeps getting better.
When I sat down virtually with Tatum, she had just gotten back from an epic early season shoot with her sponsor Arc’teryx, getting some incredible October powder turns in, and just took home another IF3 award for “Standout Female Skier of the Year.” The icing on the cake this fall, though, is the completion of her two-year film project, Passage, which also won two awards at IF3, which she speaks more about in our interview below.
From social media, it looks like you've already been getting after it this season!
Yeah, we had an Arc'teryx shoot that just happened to fall at the perfect timing. I mean, we hunted down the weather window for it and everything, but I had no idea just the volume of snow that was gonna be in the mountains. It obviously has been raining down here [in Banff] all fall, and we knew that it was snowing up in the mountains, but I was blown away with what it's already looking like up there. And just to finally get out and be in that was definitely the best season kickoff for me! For early October, couldn't ask for anything better.
What's it been like getting out there with the Arc'teryx team? You've been working with design for them, right?
Obviously, I got brought on as an athlete, but that's my goal. My intention in the future with our relationship is to get more and more involved with the design side, cause that's really where I see myself evolving as an athlete, but so far, I've been solely an athlete with them. Obviously, I've been working on this two-year project, and it's just consumed me entirely. I haven't been able to really even dabble in other outlets of myself outside of that.
I wanted to ask you about the project that you've been working on—you just announced that it's coming out, right?
Yeah, we have! We're still nailing down the exact release date of it, but it looks like the project will be released the week of November 1st.
What's a little teaser of what we can expect from Passage and what inspired it?
This project is so close to home for me. It's a family piece, essentially starting with my grandfather who was a Swiss mountain guide in Chamonix in the 50s, and just his heritage and skiing and how he passed that down to my dad who passed that to me. And just how skiing is so much more than just a sport to me, it's really like a way of life, and it's a feeling, and it's what inspires me and energizes me. And how basically I believe that's come from my blood and my DNA.
But I think realistically, to be totally honest, I came to a point in my career where I was almost losing sight of why I do what I do and lacking a little bit of inspiration really. I think in diving into my family history and reliving my roots, that's really what has invigorated me.
Your family owns a legendary ski shop, and I'm curious what the best part about growing up in that environment was?
I've been working there since I was a kid, which is like a rite of passage in my family—all my cousins, my uncles, my mom, my dad, everybody, my brother (he's the owner)—we've all worked at the shop! We've all put our time in, and I still want to work there, to be honest. I love interacting with customers. I love selling products that I'm passionate about. Retail is just so cool! To say I'm proud of my family's businesses is such an understatement. It's such a special location and a special store, and it's definitely a unique shop. It's very authentic, it's very real.
Who are your biggest inspirations in or out of the ski industry?
Oh boy. I don't necessarily think I have a certain person. I think it's really anybody that's pushing themselves and progressing themselves in their field. So whether that's a female surfer who I look up to, or a musician, or some of my snowboarding friends that are taking on projects similar to mine that I can model after, or even women who are professional athletes that are having children who are paving the way. I think anyone who's just kind of breaking the mold and pushing the boundaries is where I find inspiration.
“Anyone who's just kind of breaking the mold and pushing the boundaries is where I find inspiration”
What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned from skiing and snowboarding?
Oh my gosh. So many! Skiing has taught me life, truly. It has. It's like I've put everything into it. I've sacrificed relationships, everything. And I think, to be honest, I've learned the most from my struggles. I've learned more from my struggles than I have my success, for sure. But I think going through the hard times and going through it—whether that's injuries or just personal struggles or just kind of losing your way—going through those points in my career has definitely just given me valuable life lessons that I think are so essential to growing and learning as a person.
What's a typical winter day like in the life of a professional skier?
When it's prime time spring and I'm filming for my movie, we're out the door at 5:00am at the latest; we're already feeling like we're behind the eight ball; go gas up; hopefully, see the stars cause then you know it's clear. And then you begin your travels into the mountains! That starts in the vehicle, and that's usually a good 45-minute drive to the trailhead. Unload the sleds, and from there, it's a good 20, 25, 30km sled into the mountains. And then it's kinda game on.
It's like everything you've worked towards mentally and physically is about that day. And I think my best days have come when my intuition and my mind, my body, my soul, everything's connected, and the weather's really good, and you're with a good crew and good people. That's when I've done my best skiing and have gotten my best shots. And then you come home, and you go straight to bed because you're doing it all again the next day!
So when it's not peak season for you in the winter, what do you spend a lot of your time doing in the summer months?
Fishing, riding horses, walks with my dog. Just kind of reflecting! Honestly, it sounds so cliche, but I really like to utilize my downtime. I think I’m definitely a person that likes schedule and likes to be obviously active in everything, but I really do genuinely use summer for activities, like fishing, that just balance out my adrenaline-filled season that can kind of deplete me.
What are some of the toughest mental barriers that come along with the sport?
I would say the toughest I've been through is regaining your confidence after a really bad injury. And that varies at different levels, from little knee tweaks to backaches or whatever, but it's the big, big injuries where you're fully rebuilding yourself as an athlete—that’s what takes a lot of people down. I've definitely been through that once with my knee and once with my really bad concussion, and it's just... oh, it's so hard.
It's a “what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger” kind of thing, and it's just wild. Obviously, the highs and the lows are a part of life, but when they're a part of your career and your income? Skiing is not just a sport, it's not just something I do for fun. It's what I rely on for work. That's when this whole other element of stress can kind of creep in.
So just to prove to yourself that you can get back there and to overcome those obstacles is the most elating thing, which again, what is the bad without the good? I think it all happens for a reason.
Do you have any specific goals for this season and beyond?
I just have this greater perspective about everything and I'm just kind of ready to tap into new mediums, whether that's focusing more on writing about my trips or working more with photographers or different crews, or even just different facets of myself as an individual—like who is Tatum without being Tatum the skier? So I'm kind of excited to be at a point this winter where I'm able to put my energy into different opportunities that before I had to say no to because I was just so one-dimensionally focused on one thing.
Is there any new gear coming out that you're excited to test or try?
Dragon Optics, my eyewear sponsor. They're coming out with a new lens technology that's magnetic, which I think is going to be so cool cause I'm a constant lens changer. I'm somebody where I'm like, Oh, it's sunny! I need that! Oh, there's a cloud that went! I need to change! So _clip, clip_ is going to be really cool.
I’m also excited about doing more touring days off the resort on my Rallybird TIs, ‘cause I think that's actually a very underrated touring ski for women. It's not a new product, but it's just something that a lot of women ask me, like "What ski do you tour on?" And that's definitely something I want to try and plug!
That's helpful! We have a ton of people coming to Curated that want to get into touring but don't want to get a full ultralight setup or that have an ultralight setup and want something more aggressive.
Yeah! And since that ski’s not the ultralight, you can tour slack country and then ride resort on it! So it's really the one-trick quiver killer of skis.
This is a two-part question: Favorite backcountry zone to ski and favorite resort to ski?
I'd say the Duffey, just in my backyard, is an insane place to go for a ski tour. There are huts for days back there and terrain that I will be discovering for the rest of my life! So it'll just never get boring. That's my favorite backcountry zone.
Resort-wise, I would love to say Whistler, but it's not. I would say, honestly, this is so out there, but Castle Mountain is the first place that I ever freeskied in my entire life. I went on a trip there with my dad when I was like, I don't even know, 13 or 14, and we just skied pow for the first time. And it's still this very, very tiny little Ma-and-Pa resort in the middle of nowhere. Absolutely so nostalgic. I love that mountain! And Mt. Norquay in Banff too, ‘cause it's just beautiful and the groomers are the most fun.
What's your favorite pump-up jam?
Current or all-time?
It can be either or both!
What's the Beyonce song? She's like ♪ “I slay, you slay.” ♪ [“Formation” by Beyonce]
Honestly, that song changed my life. I know that sounds like I'm like some high schooler!
No, not at all!
That's so cliche that I'm saying that, but it's so true. I think it's just one of those examples where it's like, if you tell yourself “you slay” over and over and over, you are going to slay! It's a law, it's a fact, it's a law of attraction! So I definitely sang that song a lot in my car. That's an all-time favorite, I would say.
And then Shania Twain—that song “Any Man of Mine”! Those are like totally women power!
Yes, love it! Favorite snacks in the backcountry?
All right! Not super light, but super delicious and nutrient-packed.
I can't—if I get a little bit hungry? I'm done. Game over!
Any tips or advice for those getting into the sport and those looking to progress?
Surround yourself with your mentors, essentially. And people that are on the same page from a safety standpoint. So if you're just trying to get into backcountry, take the AST 1 and 2 with your partner. Do the work with somebody who you know. Essentially, you're a team out there. It's so important to surround yourself with the right members of the team. And safety is number one. So they all have to have those values in place and that's what's most important.
I love that. So my last piece—this is a bonus—is congratulations on winning Standout Female Skier of the Year! What was that experience like?
Honestly, surreal! Just to be in that realm with those other women who are such inspirations to me—they're just out crushing it at what they do—was an honor in itself. And then too, you know, I'm 30. I just turned 30 a few days ago, and just to be winning that, which I've done a few times in my career, but there's been so many highs and lows since then that just to be back on top of my own personal game, not even comparing myself to the others, but to kind of prove to myself I could do that was really surreal.
We’re so happy to have gotten to share Tatum’s excitement for Passage and for the ski season and can’t wait for what’s next. Learn more about Passage and find showings here.
If you’re looking for gear like we discussed with Tatum or otherwise, connect with me or another amazing Ski Expert on Curated. We’ll help you with free, personalized advice to find the best setup for you. And, if you need a little motivation on the slopes, crank the Beyonce or Shania and send it!