In a world of one-trick ponies, Ian Morrison is a rare thoroughbred in today’s era. The 27-year-old good-natured Whistler, British Columbia native’s prowess as a sponsored skier and mountain biker speaks to a time past, when being a multi-sport athlete was looked at as less of an anomaly. For the better part of the last decade, Morrison has become a mainstay in ski magazines under the loving eye and lens of his father, professional photographer Paul Morrison, while two-wheeling his way to segments with some of the world’s most renowned mountain biking production companies. But two years ago, his charmed life took a downward turn after his best friend, professional mountain biker Steve “Chainsaw” Smith, passed away in a motocross accident, steering Morrison deeper into the mountains, whether they were covered in snow or dirt, to rediscover his smile. —JEFF SCHMUCK
HOME SWEET HOME
For me it all began in Whistler, where I was born and raised and certainly have no plans of leaving anytime soon. The terrain is insane, the snow is deep and the biking is rad. Not to mention that literally all of my friends come to visit at one point or another, because they know it’s all-time as well. If you can find a place to live and a job that actually pays the bills, I don’t think there’s another place in the world that can offer what Whistler does.
My parents got me into skiing just before the age of two, and needless to say, they didn’t have to force me into it. Skiing has always been something I’m incredibly passionate about and I definitely have my parents to thank for my love of the sport. When I was younger, I was lucky enough to always have a bike, however I didn’t start really getting into it until I was around 15. Growing up with my dad’s friends, legendary mountain bikers Richie Schley and Wade Simmons, was influential. Those two definitely ended up playing a huge role in why I fell in love with biking.
I’ve always maintained a pretty good separation between skiing and biking, which keeps each season fresh. I think throughout the last decade of life the question people have asked me most is which I like best, but to be honest, I can never imagine having to choose one over the other. That being said, skiing pow has got to be the most unbeatable feeling that’s humanly achievable.
Growing up and seeing how stoked my dad was on every day made me want that same feeling. He got to shoot photos of his friends and my idols for work, and I wanted to be able to work with him and see things from the other perspective. At this point, we’ve been shooting together for just over a decade. He’s shown me the ropes the whole way, and I can never express how grateful I am that he’s put up with me for so long and given me the opportunity to work with many other incredible people.
Our dynamic has changed considerably over the previous decade. We’ve been shooting together to the point where we’ll basically always be looking at the same angle 6.9 times out of 10. Also, our sense of humour is disturbingly similar. It’s like working with my best friend who just happens to be 37 years older than me.
Stevie was my best friend, so losing someone like that is never easy. Whether we were filming in the gnarliest rain storm I’d ever seen or just drinking beers and being hoodlums, it was always a great time. He was one of the most genuine and funny people you could ever imagine meeting. I was lucky enough to ride for the same bike sponsor with him for a few years and that’s when we really became best friends. When he passed away just over two years ago, I was devastated. I was in a pretty dark place for quite a while after it happened, and I didn’t want to ride my bike for basically the entire summer. I realize looking back now that my own personal sadness and negativity were really getting me down. During times like that you need to surround yourself with friends and positivity. Get out in the mountains and make more unforgettable memories. Doing that, in my opinion, can make almost anything seem better.
I want to keep hanging out in the mountains skiing pow and continue to make more quality memories. Currently, I really want to do a multi-sport edit with skiing and biking. I haven’t been able to accomplish this yet, but Jeff Thomas and I have thrown a couple of pretty cool ideas around, so hopefully it’s something we can pull off in the near future, because I would be ecstatic to see it happen.