Professional skier and television personality Rory “Bushy” Bushfield began his versatile career as a moguls skier on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. He quickly made a name for himself, winning several Gold medals and becoming a Junior World Champion.
A new emerging discipline called freeskiing was just taking hold, and ever the adventurer, Bushfield took to this new no-hold-barred, make-the-rules-up-as-you-go, style of skiing. He earned dozens of awards in the new discipline—including a Gold Medal at the 2002 Planet X Winter Games Freeskiing Championship, a sixth place finish in slopestyle at the US Freestyle Open, and was selected Powder Magazine’s “Most Man-Made Air” winner. Bushfield also has the distinction of being the first skier to successfully land a 1080 in Half-Pipe competition. In 2012, Bushfield joined X Games star Travis Pastrana’s global traveling Nitro Circus Live Tour. Based on Pastrana’s popular MTV series of the same name.
Today, as a pilot in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, Bushy has been exploring the coast in search for low tide beaches where he can land his fixed wing Cessna in search of epic surf spots.
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About his presentation:
Rory has recently been piloting a small fixed- wing Cessna into some of the most pristine beaches in the world to surf their great waves with good friends. The adventures haven’t been easy: almost losing the plane, feeling hungry and stuck but not being to upset about it.
Bushfield will use his stories to explain the the dos and don’ts of plane surfing to inspire and impart knowledge in resourcefulness and free spirit as we explore and seek adventure in the and around the mountains and the ocean.
Interview by Brian Peech
What will you be talking about at this year’s MULTIPLICITY?
I think just flying around BC in a small plane, the adventures that go along with that, and the problems I’ve gotten into. Almost losing the plane on the beach, getting lost, having to deal with weather. Once I flew into a hole. It was so dumb. I flew into this valley, about a kilometre into it, and it was like, there’s now way I’m getting out of this hole, I’m trapped in this valley. Flying around right on the treetops. It eventually opened up on the other side. I used to think, “How do these small planes get stuck out here? ” And that’s when it dawned on me, this is how it happens.
How did you get into being a pilot?
I always wanted to fly, man. My grandfather was a pilot in World War II and I always wanted to fly. I never got to fly with my grandpa, but when he got back from the war he bought a plane, and built these roads and flew out to land on these roads. Back before there was GPS, he told me stories where he would get lost, and fly down low and read road signs.
How did you actually start flying?
I started in Squamish. There’s a flight club there. I was lucky man, because I had an injury and I was going crazy, so I took a flight lesson and learned how to fly.
“I can’t walk, which is a pretty significant issue. For a few months I haven’t been able to walk. But it’s fine, man. Fun costs blood, and bones break, and you can’t expect to just cruise around doing nothing.”
How did the surfing come into play?
So we were flying over a beach one day and my buddy needed to piss. He’s tapping me on my shoulder, half drunk, so I landed on the beach and realized, Whoa, that was easier than I thought. Now let’s see if we can take off from here. Then once we realized that at low tide, there are huge landing strips everywhere, we started loading up the surfboards. There are a lot of good beaches out there.
What did your surfing crew think when you first approached them about it?
It blows their minds, man. You land and literally taxi your plane to the surf spot. It’s pretty epic. The first time we did it, we nearly lost the plane. We landed, pushed the plane up a little bit, “Oh, seems fine.” We went for a surf, and when we came back, the plane was almost underwater. The waves were lapping up against it. Well, this is not good. It had these little tires, and with no wood to put under it the plane was just sinking. It was so scary, just the two of us working together to get it unstuck.
So what’s going through your head at that point?
Oh man, I thought I’d lost the plane for sure. Not only that, we’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking, should I call for help before the radio gets wet so we could at least get saved.
Where do you think this lust for this sort of adventure first took a hold of you?
A long time ago, really. I don’t really know. But I’ve always wanted to go further away. Just ’cause we want to go, man. There’s so much stuff to get up to in BC, it’s hard not to look out the window and not want to be out there. I’m looking out there, looking at a plane flying by right now. I’ve got a sick view of the Tantalus glacier, it’s right there by the airport, and it’s got all these sick lines around the ice.
We talked earlier about people starting to get “soft”.
I’d like to mention something about that, yeah. I don’t know, man, but it seems like everyone’s gotten soft and sues each other. I just did all my insurance after my last fall, and there are so may questions on it about whose fault is this. I just hate that everyone blames each other for each other’s dumbassness. I mean, I just went off that thing and smashed my heal, and everyone I talk to is like, “Whose fault is it? That jump was probably built wrong.” But it wasn’t. I’m an idiot and I broke my heel. And being forced to wear a helmet is garbage. And a seatbelt? It should be my choice.
You’ve been on shows like Nitro Circus. What’s that like?
Ah, it’s pretty cool, man. The whole Nitro Circus thing is pretty mellow. Just a bunch of cool people hanging out together, but they hire camera guys and tour around doing live shows. But it’s pretty well organized. It’s a good group of guys.
Do you think doing big shows like that take away from your skiing at all?
I think it’s a transition point. I’m always going to ski as much as I can; I’m always drawn to the mountain. Especially living in BC. It’s so nice out all the time and there’s so much to do. I don’t know, do I think it takes away? Maybe, a little bit. It takes me out of the mountains sometimes. But I think that’s just life, man. Following where it takes me really got me all these opportunities.
Tell us about the Sarah Burke Foundation?
We basically raise money to give two grants a year to any two kids involved in action sports who don’t have the means to achieve their goals. We choose two kids who we really think Sarah would want to hook up. It’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do. It feels good to give a 15 year old a cheque for $7,500 to be able to chase a dream. It’s pretty awesome. I’d like to do more. We have a run next year in the works for Sara Burke Day in Vancouver to help raise funds. The moment we give those checks away and meet the little buddy and say his name, it’s really cool.
How did losing Sarah affect you and what did you learn from that experience?
That life can be pretty good, and how good I had it. I learned to give more. And I learned how short and fragile things are, and that you can potentially lose anything. So take advantage and enjoy, because that’s what it’s about. Saving? You shouldn’t save; you should spend.
“Life can be pretty good, and how good I had it. I learned to give more. And I learned how short and fragile things are, and that you can potentially lose anything. So take advantage and enjoy, because that’s what it’s about. Saving? You shouldn’t save; you should spend.”
You recently suffered a major injury, how do you work through that.
Hourly, man. They say day-by-day, but it’s hour-by-hour. It’s ups and downs. I can’t walk, which is a pretty significant issue. For a few months I haven’t been able to walk. But it’s fine, man. Fun costs blood, and bones break, and you can’t expect to just cruise around doing nothing, that’s the way I deal with it. I mean, it’s sunny and beautiful and all my friends are out there having fun, and I just try to smile. I’m lucky, man, it’s just a bone on the heal. It could have been much worse.
If you could après with 5 people, alive or dead, who would they be?
Biggie and Tupac
Well, Sara, I’d love to have another après with her again
My dog, Dex. Love to have her there.
“When someone in the lane ahead of you is driving a little to slow, instead of getting mad at them, you can do an awesome move to get around him and get everyone in your car a little scared.”
What do you hope the audience takes away from this presentation?
To be honest, I’m really nervous about this presentation. I hope the audience doesn’t take away that I’m a dummy. I’d like to inspire people to go and live a little bit harder. Live a little looser, and be lass mad when something gets in their way. When someone in the lane ahead of you is driving a little to slow, instead of getting mad at them, you can do an awesome move to get around him and get everyone in your car a little scared.
What’ the best adventure you’ve ever been on?
Probably when I was 18, I went to Australia for three months just terrorizing the country. Smashing cars, getting deported. That was probably the best one because we were so young. But now, just getting to fly the plane, taking off, flying and landing and being so remote with the people you have. Just everything on the beach, everything just becomes treasure, you know. I’d never really spent more than a full day on the beach before. But the ocean’s loud, man. When you get back from the ocean, it’s so quiet. But living on the beach, it’s an adventure. It’s the best adventures.
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