Name: Parker Herlihy
Birth date: 22 November 1997
Raised in the winter playground of Mad River Valley, Vermont, Parker Herlihy’s journey and boundless passion for skiing began at Sugarbush, where he started sliding down its slopes almost as soon as he could walk. Learning technique through instruction and desire, Herlihy developed a strong skillset and a burning passion for skiing big mountains. “Skiing is an escape —there’s nothing better than feeling the rush of shredding down the mountain and having good talks with friends on the chairlift,” says Herlihy.
At age 10, Herlihy demonstrated his skiing prowess by placing second in the Castlerock Extreme competition. Head-charging down some of Sugarbush’s most technical and demanding terrain, he displayed his technical precision and control with his characteristic indomitable and unbridled enthusiasm. “The experience really opened my eyes to the potential of the Green Mountains. It made me want to explore its diverse alpine terrain and connect with nature on and off the slopes.”
With craft and technical know-how, Herlihy continued to progress through creativity and a can-do attitude. Unhampered by the improbable conditions and inconsistent East Coast weather, Herlihy hard-charged the steep and deep offerings at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen with regularity. “It made me a more versatile and better skier,” says Herlihy. “I learned how to read quickly changing terrain and how to ski in various conditions —ranging from bullet-proof ice to knee-deep powder.”
That hard work led to freeskiing recognition at the Ski The East Freeride Tour (STEFT). Judges recognized Herlihy’s artistry, athleticism, dynamism, fluidity, and sure-footed perpendicularity that he exhibited during playful and technical descents. In 2017, he was bestowed the Flying Ryan Core Value award —an honor given to athletes who exemplify the values, boundless spirit, and passionate legacy of inspirational freeskier Ryan Hawks. During his three years on the STEFT tour, Herlihy consistently placed in the top five at competitions with his greatest achievement in 2018, when he finished first overall on the tour.
Herlihy attributes his success and source of motivation to the communitarian and adventuresome spirit of the Mad River Valley ethos. “The community shaped my experiences. I grew up skiing with a hard-charging group of friends. We always pushed each other to perform bigger tricks, fly higher, and to exceed our own limits,” says Herlihy. “The bigger the vertical, the steeper the line, and the more smiles involved—the better.”
Nordica’s alpine gear has improved how Herlihy accesses and descends the mountains. “The ProMachine 130 is my most important piece of ski equipment. The boot is stiff and responsive, which helps me maneuver through tight trees and drive a big ski at high speeds,” says Herlihy. I often pair the ProMachine with the Enforcer Free 104. “There’s a lot of unpredictability in daily mountain snowfall, so if I’m unsure whether I’ll be skiing wind-scoured hardpack or a sleeper powder day, I grab the 104. Its balsa wood core and two sheets of metal extinguish chatter when its icy and its early rise tip and tail rocker allow for ample floatation in deeper snow.”
Article by Charudet Smith - Photos by Brooks Curran