Once in a blue moon, a flourishing freeskier emerges from the forest with a homegrown tale to tell. And while 22-year-old Jarrad McCarl’s backstory may sound familiar to some, his unorthodox brand of skiing is anything but.
Originally from Collingwood, Ontario, the epicentre of East Coast park-and-pipe skiers who went on to make a name for themselves in the pages of this magazine and others, McCarl, like many of his peers and influences, including the likes of Max Hill, Cole Drexler, Matt Brindisi and more, got his start on the bumps and jumps of Blue Mountain. While basking at Blue, McCarl first put boots into bindings at the fragile age of four, before switching sides to snowboarding at seven. Following a four-year stint as a one-planker, while concurrently keeping his stick on the ice at the local rink, McCarl linked up with skiing stalwart Matt Wilcox, who lured him back to the light.
"I was always chasing Matt around the hill on my snowboard, and while watching him, it just seemed like skiing was the thing to do, especially since everyone was giving up snowboarding and going back to skiing at the time. Plus, since I grew up playing hockey, I began to think that my natural position while skating would possibly transfer over to skiing better than snowboarding."
Going off to the spirit in the sky at Mount Seymour, B.C. Photo by Ilanna Barkusky
After many of the aforementioned made the habitual westward pilgrimage to Whistler, McCarl followed suit, where he discovered a newfound love for "playful, low-impact terrain," in contrast to the hard pack of his home turf. From there, he continued honing his creative craft, and earned admiration for his performances in various online park-and-pow edits, particularly due to his smooth and style-driven approach to rail skiing, which some see as second-to-none. This paved the way to him being suited up by Line Skis, Full Tilt Boots, Spy Optics and Herd Headwear, along with a coaching gig at Momentum Ski Camps, which gave him a glimpse through the looking glass at the possibilities ahead.
"It took me a long time to notice that other people felt my skiing stood out," he says. "But once I started recognizing that and hearing it from people who I have a lot of respect for, I felt, 'maybe this is something I can keep working at, show it, and make a go of it.'"
McCarl’s "big break" then came from his ski sponsor, Line, who set him up to shoot with Traveling Circus, one of the most popular web series in skiing. The experience lead to expanded exposure and, combined with his reverence of Phil Casabon (who McCarl hails as his favourite skier), Simon Ericson and The Bunch’s film projects, provided a fresh perspective, while lighting a fire under him to do something of his own.
"I find that I look at skiing a bit differently than the typical competition-style skier, so I’d like to eventually put together a film project with unique and like-minded individuals."
Two minutes for sportsmanlike conduct at Momentum Ski Camps. Photo by Ilanna Barkusky
While waiting with baited breath for that to come to pass, McCarl can be found laying waste to Whistler Blackcomb’s buffet of terrain parks alongside fellow Hotboyz Max Morello, Jake Carney, Sean McElligott and others, and doing his best to keep up in the deep stuff with Matt Margetts, Joe Schuster and Mike Henitiuk of Seeking Nirvana, who he credits with inspiring him to push himself beyond the park.
"I’m always striving to be a stronger, better and more well-rounded skier. Because in the end, my biggest goal is to be considered a good skier, as opposed to just a good park skier."