Game Changers 3-article series: Interesting ski tourers answer “Who is the one person that changed or influenced your ski adventures?”

Here are answers to the 2nd question of the Game Changer article series. I was able to put together a very representative group (in terms of their main skills and passions) of ski mountaineers to answer these questions to make for a great read, and include my answers at the end.
Person that influenced your ski adventures or racing.
» To read answers to the 1st question in this series see: What is the one piece of gear that changed or influenced your ski adventures?

Who is answering?

In short:

  • Greg Hill
  • Melanie Bernier
  • John Baldwin
  • Christina Lusti
  • Stano Faban

For more details about these ski mountaineers see the first article of the Game Changer series.

2nd question: Who is the one person that changed or influenced your ski adventures (whether that be touring or racing)?

I would like to hear who influenced YOUR ski adventures. You can do so via comments section at the end of this article.

Greg Hill says (

I am not someone who likes to place people on pedestals, I feel that we are all unique and usually deserved of respect but most likely not so great that we should be idolized.

I respect anyone who pushes themselves to be their personal best in whatever avenue they choose. But of course there have been people who have stood out in the past.

Alex Lowe was a champion of men and having seen what he could do and how he progressed mountaineering was impressive. He chose his path and went after it with wild determination. His technical climbing, exuberant character and his style were standards to be sought.  Sadly enough he died doing what he loved.

Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean staring down one of his many first descents.

Andrew McLean was someone who influenced me early on in my ski mountaineering career. What Andrew has done, in terms of firsts, is huge, his list of accomplishments hard to conceive. As a young mountain boy I was blown away by the potential that Andrew demonstrated, how much he could explore and have fun while doing it.

Initially, in the rando races, Andrew was the big name. So while I ran up and down mountains I trained to beat him and also dreamed of befriending him and going on some cool adventures with him. Both those came true and we have been friends ever since.

But he truly showed me the potential of fitness and passion in the mountains and how endless it really is.  He was someone who helped me realize my huge days in the mountains by being humble and psyched about what we do.

Melanie Bernier says (

The person that influenced me the most for ski adventures and skimo racing is Kilian Jornet (standing skimo world champ).

I remember when I was just starting to race, part of the Spanish skimo racing team came to Canada to race the Spearhead Passage race in Whistler. The sport was very young in NA back then, and I remember while gaining Russet Lake, Kilian had already reached the top of Whirlwind and was on his way back. He nicely cheered me on and kept going. I remember being really impressed and could not believe how fast he could move on his skis.

From competing in more events where he was also racing, I got to learn about his philosophy about the sport of skimo but also running. He also has a great personality and is very humble in all that he does, which is a great quality for an athlete of his level.

Looking at all that he does and how fast he is makes me not only want to train harder but push the boundaries and explore always a bit further.

John Baldwin says:

I have definitely been influenced a lot by the collective sport of ski mountaineering – whether it be new ideas for kinds of trips, new gear, new avalanche skills. It’s always inspiring to see what other people are doing.

I was definitely inspired by such as Whistler’s local Karl Ricker pioneering the Spearhead Traverse, or Chic Scott‘s long trips in the Rockies, or Galen Rowell‘s ski trips in Alaska.

I’ve been inspired by ski descents and skimo racing. I have also learned tons from different friends about things ranging from ski technique to how to know where the snow drifts in light and deep or many other things.

But it is hard to single out one person.

I suppose the biggest influence was the person that got me into backcountry skiing in the first place. It was Hans Fenz, my high school French teacher. I was never any good at French but on weekends he would take a few students backcountry skiing. Trips to Diamond Head and eventually the summit of Mt Baker opened up this magical world for me.

Christina Lusti says (

pet lustenbergerMy Dad has been the biggest influence of my skiing career.

It must have started when I was a baby in his back-pack skiing around the local ski hill. Teaching me how to tune my skis, driving us to ski races, helping out on the race course. . . and of course free skiing all over the mountain as a family.

Supporting me through a ski racing career and then up a new path of ski guiding, he has helped me create a life and career around my passion!

My dad loves to ski, watch skiing, talk about skiing!

He grew up on a mountain in Switzerland so skiing was a way of transportation . . . ski racing at a young age, moving to Canada and working for CMH, to running Lusti’s Ski Shop at Panorama Resort.

I think that his passion has been passed over to me. . . I look up to him and how he has formed his life around the greatest sport I know!

Stano Faban (

I guess, one never realizes how hard it is to answer a seemingly simple question until he asks the same himself :) . So I totally agree – it is hard to single out only one person that influenced us the most.

As I think about it, by looking at a bigger picture, I was always amazed with human powered speed. That means that racing or “racing-like” efforts inspired me the most.

To some, climbing North Face of Eiger in less than 3h (Ueli Steck) is a suicide mission, or to run a sub 30min 10k in an olympic distance triathlon is just that – running 10k in 30min.

To me, the final time of such an effort is an extraordinary summary (even though a very brief one) of what came before. It is a result of a long journey that starts with wanting slowly being transformed to believing. The more obvious things follow such as planning, commitment, determination. But even each of those include tremendous details that have to come together, on a daily basis, 365 days a year!

And because speed comes and goes as we age my biggest inspirers have changed too over periods of time:

Firstly, it would be Miguel Indurain (5-time Tour de France winner) but then reading about Reinhold Messner’s and Hans Kammerlander’s missions in the Himalayas showed me how speed can blend with adventure and mountain environments.

The biggest inspiration in my triathlon “career” came from Jan Rehula and Simon Whitfield after seeing them duke it out for gold at the first triathlon at Olympics in Sydney 2000. I knew Jan since about 1997 and all he could talk about was that race. Then seeing him getting bronze was amazing.

Finally, once I turned to mountain sports fully Ueli Steck (the speed with adventure), Stephane Brosse (completeness and consistency) who recently died, and Peter Svatojansky (determination and sheer will) inspired me the most. These days it is mostly Reiner Thoni and above answering Melanie Bernier.

Previous and Next questions:

Who influenced you?

Share who was/is The most influential person for your ski adventures, backcountry or racing.

And thank you for enjoying the read!

Training Plans for Skimo Racing

Skimo Racing Manual


  1. If you found Simon Whitfield’s triathlon career inspirational too vote him to be Canada flag bearer in London 2012 –

  2. Jeff, thanks for sharing your story. From now on you will always be the man that got into G Hill’s pants :)

  3. The person that influenced me the most was none other than G. Hill.

    Moving to Revelstoke and starting to ski tour, everybody knew and talked about Greg’s adventures. I used to eat breakfast every Friday before work at the old Woolsey Creek restaurant where Greg’s wife Tracey worked…hearing what he was up to everyday got me pumped on skiing, and eventually into Skimo racing. Greg always though I was hitting on Tracey, little did he know it was his “pants” I was trying to get into… Arc’teryx Sabre Gore-Tex, BEST PANTS I’VE EVER OWNED ;)

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