Pro Skier James Heim Discusses His Big Breaks…

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james heim pelvis
James Heim’s pelvis. This metal is still in James. photo: james heim/SBC Skier

James Heim just did a great interview with SBC Skier and discussed his big breaks:

1.  How he got his big break into MSP ski movies 

2.  How he broke his back and pelvis badly at Whistler, B.C.

We’ve excerpted those two portions of the interview.  Read the full interview here:


james heim headshot
James Heim

Breaking the Spine & Pelvis & Sacrum & Tailbone & Ribs:

In the summer of 2002 our whole Rossland crew moved to Whistler to ski on the glacier. The rest went home afterwards, but I ended up staying for the winter. Whistler had a horrible start that season, but on the first day that I really had the opportunity to explore, the snow was so deep you could barely see while you were skiing. I was following two buddies down Fraggle Rock off Crystal Chair, where I would submarine for a couple turns, look up to make sure I was still following and then dip back into the white room. At the end of the run there was a sharp left you needed to take to avoid some cliffs, but because of conditions and the fact that I was a Whistler newbie I didn’t know they were there. I came up out of the pow, saw my buddy in front, made a couple more deep turns then was suddenly in the air. My full face helmet was packed with snow so I couldn’t see anything while I was falling, but I remember it taking way too long before I hit. I’d skied off a 16-metre cliff and landed on rocks barely covered with snow. I separated and broke my pelvis, fractured my tailbone, sacrum, five ribs and my back. Definitely the most pain I have ever felt. I had two surgeries; one to stabilize my spine with four screws and two rods, the other to hold my pelvis in place with a metal plate and seven-inch bolt. The metal has been with me ever since—a constant reminder of that day. – James Heim/SBC Skier

Much better now.  James Heim.  photo:  powder mag
Much better now. James Heim. photo: powder mag

Breaking Into the Ski Industry:

Next winter [after the accident] I was back in Whistler, skiing but still feeling weak despite a year of gym and physio. I’d become good friends with Jeff Thomas, and he asked me to film with him at Baker. I figured I’d give it a shot, and it ended up being the first time I finally felt “normal.” So I started competing again and produced some good results, but broke and dislocated a shoulder in a big-mountain comp at Kirkwood, which ended my season. The following winter I stayed motivated, continued to film with Jeff, and managed to build a stronger relationship with sponsors through the exposure I gained. In 2007 one of my sponsors lined up with MSP, and the opportunity to work with them ended up being my breakthrough. – James Heim/SBC Skier

I’ve spend a summer in Bariloche, Argentina with James.  He’s a great guy, a solid Canadian, and a helluva skier.  He told me about his breakthrough into MSP movies.  He claims he was in the right place at the right time with the right sponsor.  That may be so, but he certainly was the right skiers as well.

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