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Clayton Vila Unleashed Podcast

Freeskier and Filmmaker Clayton Vila on UNLEASHED

Oct 182021

Raised on an island to the top of winter sports! Monster Energy is proud to welcome groundbreaking freeski athlete and film director Clayton Vila on Episode 16 of the sports and pop culture podcast UNLEASHED with The Dingo and Danny. Released today across Monster Energy’s social media channels, the new 53-minute episode showcases the 30-year-old American freeskier from Rhode Island who carved out a unique career as an X Games medal-winning athlete and acclaimed film director.

“I just got obsessed with filmmaking the same as I caught the bug with skiing,” said Clayton Vila on the UNLEASHED episode about pursuing his two main passions to professional levels and pushing the boundaries: “I’ll just keep doing my best every time I have an opportunity in front of me!”

Fans can now listen to the origin story of the trailblazing freestyle skier who defied pre-conceived norms in winter sports and became a viral sensation with online videos that generated millions of views. Released today, the new podcast featuring Vila is streaming on all major platforms, including Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

Vila is not your average winter sports athlete groomed in Alpine environments with perfect snow conditions. Quite to the contrary, he grew up on Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island – but still became a groundbreaking freeski athlete with an X Games medal to boot. As a filmmaker, Vila creates documentaries and commercials with the world’s best athletes, including the award-winning ‘Lack of Better’ Freeski film.


All these passions – filmmaking and professional freeskiing – constitute natural creative outlets for Vila. Speaking to the two UNLEASHED podcast hosts, Australian action sports personality Luke “The Dingo” Trembath and professional snowboarder Danny Kass, the multi-hyphenate talent speaks on the power of video footage in action sports, rising above adversity, and finding inspiration for visionary film projects.


Speaking about growing up on Block Island removed from the mainland, Vila said on the episode: “It’s seven miles long, three miles wide. And it’s a one-hour boat ride to get there. It’s a beautiful place but it’s super quiet.”


Vila’s hobbies and interests as a child were not so quiet. From age 7 onwards, he immersed himself in board sports and started eyeing freestyle skiing. “I wanted to become a pro skier, which is super random. But I told my parents, I want to be pro at something! I was already skating and surfing as much as I could.” Whenever young Vila ventured off the island, he would pick up professional skate and surf videos to study intensely with his crew. Ultimately, his ski enthusiast father nudged Vila towards skiing, so he switched to a diet of freeski videos. “I saw those movies and it was so obvious, I need to be that!”

After cutting his teeth as a skier at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Vila took a leap of faith. At the age of 18, he made the bold move of relocating to the Colorado mountains by himself with dreams of making it on the freeski halfpipe circuit and winning an X Games medal. But Vila felt different from fellow competitors, in part because of his island upbringing. Fortunately, he found a niche in the emerging discipline of urban freeski.


“When I moved out there, a few of my homies that I knew from back East were starting to hit the streets. They were taking it pretty seriously, and as soon as I hit a couple of handrails with them, I really started feeling it,” said Vila, who realized the potential of skiing in the streets. “Everybody was just using it to complement their video parts and using it as a novelty. But I thought this could be the real deal!”


Ultimately, Vila drew on his passion for the action sports videos he watched as a kid to chart his own path towards becoming a pro skier: Homemade action videos filmed in the streets, edited on his laptop, and published on YouTube. Instead of medals and titles, urban ski revolved around documenting advanced and never-been-done-before tricks on video. And Vila delivered: In 2008, he struck internet gold with his self-titled video, “Clayton Vila Shreds Block Island”. Set to the sounds of rapper Lil Wayne, the video created a viral buzz with millions of views and propelled Vila to the forefront of urban skiing as a figurehead of the movement.


In 2016, Vila’s early dreams of winning a medal in the world’s biggest action sports showcase came true unexpectedly: His creative video part entry in the X Games Real Ski video competition won a bronze medal. This milestone followed on the heels of Vila’s successful debut as a filmmaker: In 2015, the documentary “For Lack of Better”, garnered honors as Film of the Year at the Powder Awards.


From there, the freeskier who emerged from an island pursued his career as a filmmaker. Today, Vila shoots commercials and films through his production company, Greenpoint Pictures. Recent projects include the Monster Energy-produced “Finding Monsters” short film, in which Vila explores the origin story of two fellow athletes who also had to overcome obstacles on their path to pro-athlete stardom: Women’s skateboarding pioneer Lizzie Armanto and freestyle motocross legend Taka Higashino.


Vila chose these two athletes because they personified the determination and grit required to rise above adverse circumstances and become top professionals. The moral of the story: “What a risk it is when you’re young to go out and give this a shot. And how hard that must be on our parents, and how difficult it is for us,” said Vila on the episode.