2012 was a brilliant year for 26-year-old slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch. Not only did he take a gold and silver medal at the X Games but was also named ESPN's Action Sport Athlete of the Year. He then proceeded to dominate 2013 by becoming world champion at the X Games in Tignes, France. Naturally, he was an early favourite for the US Olympic team in Sochi 2014.

However, out of the five qualifying events, he didn't place on a single podium. After much whispering that he was off his game and it was all some kind of horrible conspiracy, a clean-cut ACL tear from a training crash emerged as the culprit. A tear that he'd continued to ski through. Can't blame a guy for trying.

And if you think that's bonkers, just have a read of what happened when FHM hit the slopes (badly) with the man himself...

I got into skiing when I was about three years old and I just fell in love with going fast and carving up snow; but I got bored with doing the normal runs, so I got onto racing and doing moguls. Then it moved on to catching bits of air and now I fall more love with it each year.

I don't wake up every day wanting to be the best. If it's a shitty day or you're hungover as hell, sometimes you just don't feel like learning something new; but if you've got a contest on you've got to run. Practising tricks can be frustrating, but it's a job like any other.

I've nailed myself pretty hard a few times. I've broken my collar bone loads, my shoulder blade and I've tore ligaments in my knee. I had to miss out on eight weeks of the season and I spent the whole time in my house playing Guitar Hero.

Getting injured comes with the turf. It's a dangerous sport. When you're going upside down everyone knows at some you're going to get hurt, but you have to take those risks. You have to scare yourself every day.

Kids always ask me how I made it as a professional skier and for me the answer is obvious.
It doesn't matter how hungover you are, you just have to haul yourself up the mountain and do it. There is no other way.

Tom Wallisch

You don't have to learn every trick today. Yes, it's good to push yourself, but if you try and be the big guy you can get seriously injured and it's over. I take it slow and pace myself when it comes to new tricks, but I've seen others who don't and it can be disastrous.

Get used to being upside down.
I try tricks on a trampoline or diving board first. Then I visualise them in my head and try them on snow. Before you know it, shit gets hectic and you've got 70 foot underneath you.

It isn't all about the technical side.
A lot of what judges look for in competitions is about style. Even if you're just mucking around on your skis your still up there doing it, honing your style.

Tom Wallisch

My story began on YouTube.
I whored out my edits to everywhere I could and, eventually, in 2007 one of the contests I entered, the Superunknown, took me on to film more of my stuff with them. From then it was just competitions, competitions, competitions.

Social media plays a bit part in sponsorship.
Nowadays it's all about Twitter and Instagram followers and Youtube hits. Your sponsors are there to advertise so, if you can give them a readymade fan base, they'll love it.

If you want to do what you love, prepare for the fact it might not make you rich. It's expensive to travel all around the world and mostly you have to finance it yourself, so you can't be a total idiot with your money.

Tom Wallisch

It pays to keep your friends close. A lot of the guys I travel with  are my best friends and we all support each other when things don't go so well. Plus they motivate you to try new things. Every contest is getting crazier and crazier and it's hard to do well these days so you need someone to pick you up when you screw up.

We have a rule in skiing called the 10% rule. When someone wins a competition we force them to spend 10% of their winnings that night in the bar, so we all win in the end. The other night my mate won £25,000 in a competition, so that was a good night.

Tom Wallisch

Words by Lucy Hancock
Photography by Sam Hiscox