He is originally from New Zealand, lived in England, and finally ended up in Innsbruck. Neil Williman is a skier from the bottom of his heart. He has competed in the Freeride World Tour and works there now as a commentator. Neil has filmed with several European production crews including Snowmads, Midiafilm, Whiteroom Productions, and also produced his own movie "Working Volks Freeride".
No wonder Neil's nickname trademark is Skiing Human. Together with FFF-Co-Founder Harry Putz he will be the host of the first ever FFF Worldwide Show on Dec 17th 2020 at 8 p.m. (CET). Get your tickets for the show here - the stream will be open until Dec. 31st 2020 at midnight. In the interview Neil tells us about his skiing life and what you can expect at the FFF Worldwide Show.
FFF: How did you get into freeride?
Neil Williman: In New Zealand skiing is pretty different and as a kid I learnt to ski at a resort that had no piste and you had to walk 1.5 hours to get to. So freeride was kind of all I knew from the start, it's almost the default type of skiing in NZ. Once I found out you could combine it with freestyle and ski-mountaineering it quickly became my favourite thing in the world, and I've been lucky enough to visit many great places and meet many amazing people through the sport.
You've been filming with European film crews since 2012, including Snowmads, Midiafilm, Whiteroom Productions, and more recently producing your own movie "Working Volks Freeride". How were those experiences?
Really incredible. Getting to travel all around central and northern Europe, as well as North America, Japan, Georgia, Turkey, Russia, Alaska, and even filming skiing in Greece have been some of the most special experiences I've ever had. Getting to see so many different cultures and ways of life has taught myself a lot about the world and myself, and has helped make me who I am. And the skiing has been pretty damn good too. Getting a video out of it that you're proud of in the end is a great bonus.
You work as a commentator for the Freeride World Tour livestream. Tell us a little bit about that.
After I was on the FWT 2012-2015 I knew a bunch of the staff, and they're good people that work really hard. Dion Newport is a judge for the FWT and a long-time friend of mine, and when they needed a commentator for the 2017 test event in Japan he recommended me since I used to do some live commentary for the NZ Freeride Open. Then the next year one of the regular commentators wasn't available because he was away doing the Olympics so they invited me back permanently. As far as work goes it's a pretty fun job!
How come you ended up living in Innsbruck?
I first came to Innsbruck in 2012 to film with the Whiteroom Productions crew after I met Fabi Lentsch and Raphi Webhofer in NZ during the winter there. I realised how amazing it was, and spent more time there every year, until I moved here with my girlfriend in 2016 for her to study a masters at the sports university. There's a great crew here and still so much more amazing skiing to discover.
What can people expect at the FFF Worldwide Show from your side?
I've already had the pleasure of previewing the movies that are going to be shown and I'm just planning to give the film-makers and athletes the props that they deserve. Knowing first hand how difficult it is to make a ski movie I'm so impressed what they have achieved and want to help explain the difficulties of that to the world, and get some behind-the-scenes info about the movies for the public. Also I'm going to be giving big ups to FFF, Innsbruck and POW (Protect our Winters) for what they're doing for the freeride scene!