Rory Bushfield – Flying and, most importantly, landing
As a professional freeskier and aviation enthusiast, Squamish Valley resident Rory Bushfield knows a thing or two about airtime. He’s made a career out of hucking, spinning, flipping, flying and, most importantly, landing.
A lifelong skier from Alberta, “Bushy” won a junior moguls event in Finland at age 17 and found himself on the World Cup Circuit representing Canada against some of the finest skiers in the world. “It was crazy, that victory.” he says. “I remember calling my mom from the hotel room in Finland to thank her because it had taken a lot of work for my parents to send me overseas. Somehow she got me there though and I was like, ‘Mom! I won. Thank you so much!”
But the stiff structure of the International Federation du Ski didn’t really suit his life’s goals, or personality. “The competition level was more serious than I expected,” he recalls. “And I wasn’t allowed to do anything else in case I got hurt. It sucked. I wanted to hit jumps and ski pow. They weren’t into that. I left because of the rules: why am I allowed to do a backflip in the moguls but not a double back? It wasn’t for me.”
In search of airtime with less rules attached, Bushy gravitated to the X-Games and was soon filming freeskiing segments for top ski movie companies who appreciated Bushy’s commitment to skiing, fast fluid lines and throwing buttery smooth tricks off natural terrain features. His adventurous antics off the snow were a bonus– Bushy had a habit of throwing big backflips into water by jumping off cargo ships, European castles, derelict fishing docks, or anything else he could find really.
That kind of confidence in the air, Bushy explains, can be traced back to a single day when he was 11 years old; The day his grandmother bought him a trampoline.
“That’s the only reason I know how to land on my feet,” he says. “I’d have hurt myself so many times if it wasn’t for that trampoline. All those backflips, just messing around and having a place to have fun and try stuff without getting hurt. I learned a lot of air sense.”
The thing about airtime, though – it can get addicting. As Bushy’s ski career flourished he began looking towards another life dream – to be pilot. He studied for his pilot’s license while living in Squamish and recovering from a blown knee.
“My original plan was to get a plane and find new ski zones,” Bushy explains, “But once I started flying it became a dream to be able to land on a glacier and ski from the plane. They do it in Alaska, why not here?”
Bushy realized that dream in the winter of 2017, landing and skiing on a massive Coast Mountain icefield. Photographer/adventure partner Mason Mashon turned Bushy onto the versatility and joy of living out of a teepee, and last winter the duo established a plane access high camp at over 7,000ft to ski and snowmobile from.
They kept the good times going right through the summer. “ I only took the skis of the plane last month,” Bushy says. “We skied all summer. Now I’ve been landing on beaches along the coast and getting ready to surf in the fall. Once the snow comes I’ll put the skis back on and we’ll go further and deeper and build teepees in the best spots we can find. I’m looking forward to more skiing this year. Flying and camping that high up is actually very difficult. We’re getting better though and once we get that dialed we’ll have more time to ski and can take a few more risks.”
The willingness to put it all on the line is one of the things is one of the things Bushy loves about Airhouse. He and his late wife, the 3-time X-Games Champion and Canadian skiing legend Sarah Burke who lived and trained in Squamish, were old friends with Airhouse co-founder Rodney Wilson, aka Willy.
“Willy is the best,” Bushy says. “He was a good friend of Sarah’s and mine, he used to be a ski filmer. He used to watch Sarah train on the national team trampoline and after she passed away, one day he just told me, ‘I’m gonna build Airhouse and we are gonna have a Sarah trampoline and it’s gonna be sick.’ And he did it – He came through.”
The personalized “Sarah” trampoline is not unique to Squamish however, as Bushy recently discovered on a trip to Nanaimo. “We were over there driving around, lost, and we saw it. It’s big, you can see it from farther away than the Squamish one. We went in and jumped. It’s awesome to see kids bouncing on trampoline with Sarah’s name on it. She would have loved that because she always had this drive to give back to the next generation too”.
Now an inspirational figure in his own right, Bushy’s adventurous attitude and Instagram feed have been known to inspire people to quit their jobs and move to the mountains. Bushfield constantly reminds people that time spent having fun is a real investment in your future, and the kind of life you want to lead.
“If I was thirteen and I walked into an Airhouse it would be really hard to get me out of there, there are so many different levels and lines to play on… It’s a treasure for kids, and adults too. Not landing on your head is a really good skill to learn.“
Grab yourself a Wicked Pass to be able to progress to your next level. The best way to progress is to train, the more you train the better you become. The Wicked Pass allows for exactly this, with use of Airhouse everyday plus 15% off of Lessons!
About the Author:
Feet moved to Whistler with his family at age 12 to live the dream. After time on the Island at University of Victoria, Feet returned home to the mountains where he co-directed and produced the seminal Canadian ski film Parental Advisory Vol 1. Feet also makes short horror films for fun, hosts many Whistler events, writes a weekly movie column, freelances for numerous top outdoor mags, and has been the editor of Mountain Life – Coast Mountains since it’s inception in 2006. He and his family now call Squamish, BC home.