Banks Gilberti gave up skiing to find joy. What he found was his joy for skiing.
Gilberti was born in Denver, Colorado, and relocated with his family to Ketchum when he was four. His father, who had competed in aerials and moguls at Lake Placid, was a ski industry professional who moved to Idaho for a job, where the young Gilberti learned to ski on Baldy and grew up playing in the surrounding Sawtooth and Boulder mountains.
As a kid, Gilberti was surrounded by the mountains of the West and Idaho is where his passion for skiing was cemented. It ran like snow melting through his veins, which is why, when the family moved to Burlington, Vermont, during his high school years, he attended Carrabassett Valley Academy, the private ski and snowboard academy and world-class training program in Maine. But after competing at elite levels on the park and pipe circuit for 10 years, including X-Games and Dew Tour Pipe events, and building a career as a professional skier in Summit County, Colorado, Gilbert became frustrated with what he was seeing from the industry he loved. And that is when he gave up skiing.
“The culture had been sucked right out of skiing in Colorado,” said Gilberti. “It had all just become too corporate, everything and everyone had to be marketable.”
So, Gilberti gave it up to move back to his hometown in Idaho. And he moved back to ski— just for the joy of skiing.
He didn’t have a plan. He didn’t have a sponsor. But, he did have a vision and a passion for the mountains and the sport he loved. It was the rich ski culture in Ketchum and the undiscovered potential of Idaho that drew him back and Gilberti took that energy and hunger and launched his own unique web series “Adventures in Transition” in 2014. And it was that fortuitous decision, borne out of a deep love for the sport, that helped put Gilberti on the map.
“We wanted to show the life of a skier,” said Gilberti of the web series he launched with partner Jake Strassman. “We wanted to capture the joy of it. To just ski the way I wanted to ski and do it on my own terms.”
In 2014, there weren’t many athletes creating their own online video shorts. And, certainly, there weren’t many filming with the zeal and quiet joy that Gilberti and Strassman brought to the medium. Several production companies started to notice Gilberti’s unique approach to film and style of skiing. It wasn’t just flips and jumps, trees and chutes and nail-biting first descents. “Adventures in Transition” was an honest account of passionate skiers and Gilberti’s series showcased all of it—the powder, the big air and sliding rails, the parking lot laughter and camaraderie of the lifestyle; and even the jumping of pavement or dirt patches as the spring snow was running out. It was truly skiing for the joy of skiing.
“You don’t have be in Alaska attacking lines that only one percent of skiers could ever attempt,” said Gilberti. “We just went out and showed how fun it was to ski our hometown mountain with some of our best friends, which is a very relatable experience.”
The calls started coming in and Gilberti was tapped to appear in films by Level 1 and Matchstick Productions. He gained sponsors and was featured in shorts promoted by Teton Gravity Research and Orage, a sponsor he has been with since he was 16 years old. Gilberti, now 34, is not prone to boasting but he says he is proud of having longevity in the ski industry. His role continues to evolve and he is awed by the younger skiers. He was recently named the Big Mountain Program Director for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), which is a role he relishes for the opportunity to give back to the mountain where it all began for him and to coach hometown youth in the skills of fluidity, strength, perseverance and good line choice when skiing difficult terrain.
Gilberti is proudest not of his own accomplishments, but of seeing an athlete he has coached stand on the podium. He lights up when describing the physical conditioning, style, energy, fluidity and control Big Mountain competitions demand of the athletes he coaches and feels fortunate to have experienced so much through his own skiing. His skiing career has taken him all over the world doing what he reflects was “really dangerous stuff.” It has propelled him off wild jumps, cliffs and lips; sent him flying through trees and glades, down steeps and across park features and rails.
“Sun Valley is where it all started for me,” Gilberti said. “It is good to be back somewhere that lives and breathes the actual ski culture.”
For Gilberti, that is the essence and joy of the sport.