Charlie Murray is a 21 year old Freeride skier and Adventure racer, based in Wanaka and Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. Despite his low mileage in terms of age, he is competing on the world stage for both sports. Sponsored by Mons Royale, Faction skis and Salomon Bindings, its clear he’s ridiculously good at the shit he does. Recently back from an adventure in Alaska (also skiing with his childhood friend Jamesa Hampton and younger brother Craig Murray, who both happen to be champion skiiers too), Charlie took a moment to share what it’s like to be full time student, full time extreme sportsman and full time go-getter.
DSM: Hi Charlie! Thanks for taking the time our for us. You’ve been pretty busy travelling in a few continents recently? Can you start by telling us what a typical day looks like for you lately?
CM: Ideally I would go to my uni classes in the morning and then head up to the mountain around midday to ski for the afternoon, sometimes even squeeze in a run or a MTB ride in the evening. A few good meals are a must, and unfortunately most week nights are spent studying in the library. Depending on the season, I usually MTB or surf if the skiing isn’t an option. I’ve recently been based in North America studying at MSU (Montana State University) which has been great as the ski field is only 20 mins from where my classes are. If I have an Adventure Race coming up I also try to get out for at least 3 hours of training every day.
DSM: That’s a busy and active schedule! It must be pretty ideal to go from classroom to chairlift in 20 minutes, I am sure many DSM readers daydream about that sort of opportunity. Did you ever imagine you would be where you would be now ?
CM: When I was younger I always dreamt of traveling around the world and skiing at all the famous places I knew of.
“I can’t believe I have actually had the opportunity to ski and travel in all these amazing locations! I always imagined myself spending a lot of time in the outdoors but I was never sure exactly what I would be doing.”
Currently my main two sports are mountain biking and skiing, but they aren’t the only ones I do!
DSM: You come from a very sporty family with three talented kids. What’s it like having your brother Craig join you on adventures ?
DSM: Having Craig along is great! We are on similar levels in pretty much every sport we do, so it’s awesome for trips away as we are usually on the same page.
“It sometimes gets a little competitive and heated but I guess that’s good also!”
He usually lives in Europe for the Northern Hemisphere winter so sometimes we go a while without a trip together but it’s always great meeting up somewhere in the world for skiing or exploring. Our little sister Fiona quite often comes along on our adventures when we are in New Zealand, she’s pretty tough and does well keeping up with her brothers!
DSM: A very talented family then! Do you have anyone in particular who inspires you?
CM: There are a lot a people who inspire me but I most often get my motivation and excitement from family and friends. Jamesa, Craig and Hank are just a few of the people who make skiing lots of fun and I am always learning things or being encouraged by them.
“I really like the original skiers from 30 years ago who were down to earth and didn’t care about anything other than the next run. That attitude of putting life’s smaller struggles (like my student loan) aside and focusing on the ‘here and now’ really appeals to me.”
DSM: there are no doubt many people who can relate to trying to put the small struggles aside (student loads especially) and striving to focus on the moment! Speaking of terrifying study-related debt, what’s the scariest thing or most challenging thing you have ever done?
CM: I’m constantly scaring myself when I’m skiing, but usually only in small doses.
“I actually get more scared by sports that I’m not as confident with. Rock climbing and white water kayaking can be terrifying! The scariest thing on skis recently was probably trying to do a double backflip off a jump in the backcountry, one that I had never hit before and where I couldn’t see the landing. I didn’t quite land it but it turned out okay in the end!”
DSM: a double blackflip in any context is mega impressive, but that’s extreme. Well done from us! Do you have any advice to someone keen to get into extreme sports or pursue their passion?
CM: For extreme sports I would have to start by saying that finding out the right gear for the sport is a must. In order to limit risk its important to wear the right protection gear. Also finding out how to safely learn new skills. In skiing we often practice on trampolines or a foam pit.
“We make it look easy but a lot of hard work and preparation goes into our sport! Other than that just keep doing what you enjoy! The more hours you do something the more natural it becomes.”
DSM: Good advice! Any ideas what the future holds for you?
CM: I am hopefully wrapping up at uni at the end of this year so I’ll have a bit more time after that to pursue my sports. I’m going to be skiing and competing back in New Zealand and then hopefully going to Europe to support my brother in his events and do a few events myself. Other than that it’s pretty open ended, which is perfect. I am just going to keep doing what I enjoy and have a blast!
Just a quick thanks to my friends and family for the good times and support! Also to Faction Skis, Salomon Bindings and Mons Royale clothing, who are amazing for helping to keep me in the best gear and perform the best I can.