Pro of the Month: Clay Bryant
Our Pro of the Month column celebrates the remarkable individuals within The Pro Collective. Enjoy inspirational stories shared by your fellow mountain professionals and see how Faction Skis allow them to thrive on the front lines. To be featured as a Pro of the Month, or to nominate someone you know, fill out the form linked at the bottom of this page.
Our August Pro of the Month is Clay "Gofer" Bryant, a 37-year-old skier and coach based in Breckenridge, Colorado. He skis often at the mountain town's namesake ski resort, as well as Arapahoe Basin just up the road. Clay is truly gifted on skis, equally capable skiing down a steep, narrow chute or hucking a giant backflip.
He’s humble as they come, and like so many mountain professionals he takes great pride in fostering the next generation of snow sports enthusiasts. "There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’re helping [people] become skiers forever," he says.
What's your job on the mountain? And what does your job entail?
C: I am a coach with Team Breckenridge Sports Club. I coach the freeride team and travel to IFSA* competitions with the team. *The IFSA (International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association) is a non-profit organization which organizes big mountain freeskiing competitions around the USA and Canada.
How did you get into this profession?
C: I used to ski on team Breckenridge with local legend Chris Hawks and started coaching with him. I used to be a park and pipe coach and kind of evolved into coaching freeride as the sport grew.
What are the aspects of your job that make you feel proud to work in this role, and in this industry?
C: I really enjoy sharing a passion of mine with kids and seeing them grow as people. And there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’re helping them become skiers forever.
Do you have one or two short stories to demonstrate happy or noteworthy moments on the job?
C: I’ve been fortunate enough to witness many breakthrough moments over my coaching career. These breakthroughs are some of the best rewards for a coach. The face a kid makes after stomping their first backflip, first 360 off their first cliff... really anything that they do for the first time is priceless. It’s also awesome to have former students call me long after I’ve been their coach and want to go skiing. It’s really cool to know you’re their friend and you’ll always ski together.
What do you ski on at work?
C: Dictator 3.0. It’s the perfect choice for coaching big-mountain skiers on those days when you know you’re going fast and going big. So, pretty much every day, right? It’s less playful than the CT 3.0, my other go-to. But when you’re skiing hard, and for those moments when it feels like you’re being shot out of a cannon, it’s the aggressive ski I need. There are many days where I’m less worried about skiing switch and more focused on speed, stability and stomping, and Dictator is my choice on those occasions. If the snow is firm, the Dictator 3.0 holds an incredible edge.
What do you ski on "at play"?
C: CT 3.0. I’ve ridden almost every iteration of the CT 3.0. The latest version is the best ski I’ve ever been on. It’s playful, snappy, super light for its size, yet a stable do-it-all ski. It can be in the park and all over the mountain. It allows me to treat the whole mountain as a park and allows me to ski in a hard-charging yet playful manner. If you’re skiing every day as a coach, it can handle any terrain and any conditions, period.
What kind of skiing do you do in your free time?
C: If I had a choice I would ski bottomless pow every day, but it can't always be that way. I like to go on big tours if the weather is nice, or just stay in the resort and lap my favorite runs up high on a good snow day. Or I'll spend a day lapping the park if the conditions everywhere else on the hill are less than ideal. I really think people should ski everything, bumps, ice, pow, it's all sliding down a hill and it's all fun.
What do you do for work during the off-season?
C: I started my own painting business a few years ago. I've been painting in the summers and skiing in the winters for a while now. It keeps me outside and still working physically which I like. I also employ an athlete or two from the team to help me out during the summer months. It's nice to have them around and keep in touch with them in the off-season. And hopefully they learn a thing or two along the way that's not just skiing.
Lastly, what summer sports are you passionate about?
C: Once the snow melts away I really enjoy riding my mountain bike and rock climbing. Mountain biking is just so damn fun, and Breckenridge has so many fun trails I can ride right from my front door. I find it similar to skiing with the downhill, picking your line aspect. I also like to suffer a bit and pedaling is a great way to keep fit and ready for all the hike-to terrain I take my kids to all winter long. Rock climbing is something I've gotten back into in the last year. Although it's not nearly as fast paced as biking and skiing, I think it helps a ton with your mental game. The vertical world can be a bit stressful and if you can deal with that, all the situations you end up in in the winter don't seem so bad.
Have your own story to share with The Pro Collective? Apply to be featured as our next Pro of the Month via this link. TPC - The Pro Collective is now taking applications for the 20|21 season. Apply today.