Freeride World Tour Athlete Spotlight: Trace Cooke (Part 1 of 3)

BCA pro athlete Trace Cooke.

BCA would like to congratulate three members of our athlete team: Trace Cooke, Berkeley Patterson and Grifen Moller, on qualifying for the 2017-2018 Freeride World Tour. The opportunity to compete on the Tour is one of the most sought after prizes in big mountain skiing. Next year, these three riders will have the opportunity to compete on the world’s most extreme faces amongst some of the biggest names in big mountain skiing. This interview with Trace Cooke is part one of a three-part interview series, with the three BCA athletes who have qualified for next year’s FWT. After being bumped off the FWT during his rookie season in 2016, Trace fought hard to regain his spot. Congrats Trace!

  • Name: Trace Cooke
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Nelson, British Columbia, Canada
  • Home Mountain: Whitewater Ski Area
  • Sponsors: Fischer, Smith, The North Face, Backcountry Access, Whitewater Ski Resort, and The Village Ski Hut

I’ve skied at Whitewater Ski Resort for the last 19 years. Whitewater is definitely a smaller resort. Everywhere I get to travel and compete at is always bigger than my home mountain. The mountain has only three lifts, two of which are super old double chairs. What makes Whitewater really special is that the resort receives over 12 meters (480”) of snow every year and the place has always has a really great vibe. To be honest, it’s the vibe of both Nelson and Whitewater that makes it really hard to leave. The 25-minute drive from Nelson up to Whitewater is also pretty hard to beat.

Unlike a lot of other big mountain athletes, I never ski raced or did moguls or anything like that. But from a young age, my dad, who is an ex-racer, was always coaching me and helping me become a better skier. My dad was always the one to get me out of the house on the weekends. Growing up, when the weekend came, we were skiing.

I did my first big mountain competition at Red Mountain, when I was 14. That was before I knew much about big mountain skiing or how people competed in it. For the first few events, I really didn’t do very well; it took me some time to figure things out. There is something different about competing. It can be really hard to put a solid run down, which can be frustrating. But once you do it, it’s the best feeling in the world.

trace-cooke-3-940x1410Trace tosses a big leftside 360 during the 2017 Kicking Horse Wrangle the Chute Contest.

In high school, I was part of a program called ATLAS through my local high school. Through this class I was able to take my Wilderness First Responder, my AST Level 1 avalanche course, and a course in companion rescue. Not a lot of people have an opportunity to do something like that in high school. The ATLAS program provided me with the skills that have allowed me to push my skiing into the backcountry.

This year was amazing. With first place finishes at both the Crested Butte and Kicking Horse Freeride World Qualifiers along with a fourth place finish at Revelstoke, I was able to land the top spot in the overall rankings for North America. The level of skiing at this year’s Freeride World Qualifier events was unbelievable. I’ve put in a lot of work and it feels really good to regain my spot on the tour.


The Freeride World Tour demands a whole other level of respect. Especially if you qualify out of North America, it can be a hard to transition to the FWT. In the North American Freeride World Qualifier competitions, they allow on-hill inspection, which can give you a lot better idea of what your line is going to look like. On the FWT, and in all European competitions for that matter, they only allow visual inspection from the bottom of the venue. If you have never done a visual inspection, it can put you at a serious disadvantage. I would attribute that to why a lot the FWT rookies coming out of North America have struggled to stay on the tour over the past few years. After getting cut my first year, it gave me a lot of perspective on what I needed to do to get back on the tour.

A lot of people consider the Bec De Rosses to be the most extreme venue on the Tour. But really, it all depends how much snow there is. I’ve never skied the Bec from the top. We started a little ways down the venue last year, so it was pretty manageable. To start from the top would be pretty life changing, probably the scariest run of my life.

What I love about the tour is that nobody is there to make enemies. I was pretty blown away by the amount of camaraderie on the tour. One of the vets on the tour, Reine Barkered was a coach/father figure to me throughout the entire season. He helped me out so much. It’s a pretty dangerous thing that we do. It was really cool to see that everyone was in it together to not get injured or hurt.

With the season winding down, I’m working with a personal trainer to do some rehab. I want to get myself as healthy as possible before I start training for next season.

During the summers, I work as a wildlands firefighter for the Ministry. Competing can be really expensive. It’s really important that I work a lot in the summer so that I can pay for the next season. When I’m not working, I really like to rock climb. When you are competing on the tour, dryland is really only half of the preparation. You also have to be really good at coping with nerves. For me, climbing is the best way to exercise both my brain and my body, while also doing something really fun and rad.

Freedom – ep.3 Staring Trace Cooke, produced by Tristan Martin-Preney

Follow Trace: Instagram: @tracecooke, Facebook: Trace Cooke Skier

STAY TUNED for parts two and three of this series featuring interviews with 2018 Freeride World Tour rookies Berkeley Patterson and Grifen Moller. 

Interview and Profile by Jack Beighle