Name:Ian Compton Age: 29 Occupation: Artist/woodworker. Past: Professional skier, sole curator of webisodes on iancomptonsweak.com Claim to fame Artist and woodcarver. Produced videos with Line’s Traveling Circus, Level 1, Meathead Films. Doesn’t own a cell phone. Skis: Mount Snow, Jay Peak, Stowe, Sugarbush Lives in: Greensboro, Vt.
You may have seen Ian Compton’s lanky six-foot frame flying through parks at Mount Snow, Killington, or Sugarbush. You may have spotted him coaching at Stowe or Jay Peak or scouting stair rails at schools in Burlington. But the place Compton really likes to ski now is a dairy farm near his secluded farmstead in the Northeast Kingdom. “This farmer sets up his tractor to run a free rope tow for locals on weekends. On a busy day, you might see 10 cars there. It’s awesome,” Compton raves.
It’s not the lifestyle you’d expect from a skier who was once on the Nordica freeski team, which features established pros like Rory Bushfield and Caroline Gleich. Then again, Ian Compton isn’t your average pro.
Compton grew up near Brattleboro, Vt. where his father, singer/songwriter John Compton was based when he wasn’t touring with likes of the Allman Brothers, Blood, Sweat and Tears or his own acoustic band, Appaloosa.
Compton got a video camera for Christmas one year and began shooting with his friends. Those early videos made a splash online and at 19, he landed a sponsorship with Line Skis. “When you’re a kid and someone hands you a pair of skis or a pair of boots, that’s how you know you’ve done it,” he says. “That moment was huge.”
Compton became part of a crop of talented skiers in Mount Snow’s freestyle program who would take their skills across the country. He started making appearances with Line’s Traveling Circus at ski areas all over the U.S. His early work features him with a goofy, often one-footed style of grinding handrails or spinning off lips. His infectious energy and talent earned him a reputation as one of the more charismatic and recognizable online ski personalities.
The on-the-road skiing and shooting was largely no-frills: the Traveling Circus webisodes show the crew eating lots of fast food, downing doses of 5-Hour Energy and driving impossibly long distances.The webisodes earned as many as 200,000 views. Compton continued shooting on his own and with other groups, landing spots in productions by Level 1 and Meathead Productions.
But as his videos went viral, the growing number of people who recognized him on the street started to take a toll.
“I was really stoked on people knowing who I was,” he says. “But I pretty much grew up on the internet and it’s hard to grow with people having an assumption about who you are. It became something I wanted to get away from.” He also suffered a back injury that, at age 26, made it painful to even walk. “I had a limp foot and was in constant pain. I didn’t think I could keep skiing,” he says.
So he headed north—far north—to a farmhouse on eight acres in Greensboro built in 1952 by his grandfather and used by his grandmother as her artist’s retreat.
Since making the place his permanent home in 2013, he and his sister Vanessa (a professional climber and accomplished collage artist) reclaimed three acres of swamp to make room for an organic garden. Ian also built a yurt as his woodworking shop.
And he started doing ice baths in the pond nearby. “I’d limp down there, cut a hole in the ice and throw myself in,” he recalls. He also did acupuncture. It worked and at 29, Compton is back on skis. He has also become an accomplished woodworker who sells his tables and cutting boards on Etsy.
“I am just so so lucky. It’s a special place that puts me in touch with everything I love,” he says of the region he now calls home. And now that’s he’s back on skis, expect to see some new footage soon.
Photo Caption: Once a sponsored pro and star of freeski films, Ian Compton now skis at a dairy farm near his Northeast Kingdom home. Photo courtesy Ian Compton.