Meet Jonny Moseley, a legendary freestyle skier who has long called Palisades Tahoe home. Moseley made history with a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. A living legend in the skiing community, Jonny continues to inspire with his innovative spirit and unwavering passion for the slopes.
Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us how long you’ve been skiing at Palisades Tahoe.
Jonny: My name is Jonny Moseley and I’ve been skiing at Palisades Tahoe for… It’s a long time… 45 years? Yeah. Wow, that really puts it in perspective. I’ve never had to do that math before. I mean, that’s like when someone says they’ve been doing something, anything for 40 years… You’re like, you’re f’ing old, man! 45 years doing anything. Whoa. Okay. Yep. Next question?
Q: Alright, Johnny. Why Palisades Tahoe?
Jonny: Why Palisades Tahoe? Well, initially, because this is where I was fortunate enough to be brought to learn how to ski when I was three years old. So it’s kind of like in my blood. I didn’t know anything different until I went around and skied other places as a competitive freestyle skier. That was incredible, and I loved it, and I feel very fortunate. But it was weird because everywhere I would go, these magnificent places around the world, I’d be missing it back here at Palisades Tahoe. It was a weird thing.
I used to wonder why I’d have that kind of feeling like, why do I keep wanting to come back here so much? And so over the years you kind of formulate it, and I think a lot of it is just the feeling it gives you, right? The vibes. That comes from just that one weightless turn, that one contour in the mountain that you hit every time you go by, that one little boulder that you’ve hit a million times since you were five years old.
Those are the intangible things. When I try to explain to people why they have to go ski Palisades Tahoe, it’s kind of hard to explain, right? Like, there’s the topography, there’s the weather. It’s something about the way it snows. It’s this combination of factors… You probably couldn’t even think of all the factors that go into making this place special.
Q: Can you tell us about one of your earliest Palisades Tahoe memories?
Jonny: Well, the first thing that pops into my mind is peeing in my pants a lot as a little kid. I never wanted to go in for lunch, so I would just pee in my pants and I’d just constantly have wet long underwear. That’s one of my earliest memories is having a hot crotch.
I would say, on a more serious note, being out there with my brothers, skiing around the mountain, trying to jump off everything possible, competing in the moguls. Skiing what was called the West Face (now, you know is as Moseley’s.) Lap on lap on lap, hitting the moguls, hitting a little jump on the bottom. That’s really my best memories of skiing – with a crew up and down KT – Lapping, lapping, lapping West Face and then just coming home and passing out and doing it again the next day.
Q: Can you rank your three favorite lifts for us?
Jonny: Yeah, three favorite lifts… I mean, KT. You know, you can’t beat that lift. I really like being back in the Granite Chief area. It’s just so serene. There’s wildlife back there! I’ve seen bears back there. I kind of like the quiet, old-school lift. It’s just it’s such a beautiful part of the world. I love the way the rock formations look. And then let’s see number three… Yeah, I’d say Broken Arrow down into Tower 16. That whole area back there is just a place that is so unique to this mountain that you don’t really get in other places. And I like the fact you’ve got a little work for it a little bit and there’s so many weird little spots back there.
Q: Who is the best skier on the Mountain?
Jonny: Wow, man, there are a lot of good skiers here. I have to give it up to young guys. Noah Gaffney and Trevor Semmons definitely won last year if that is a thing! Pretty cool that they are both legacies here. Both their dads were the best skiers on the mountain at one point too! Shoutout to Robb and Jared.
I mean, the other two guys I really like to watch are Daron [Rahlves] and Connery [Lundin]. I love watching Daron turn and I learn so much from watching him ski. And then I love watching Connery mix it up and combine styles, and he’s out there every day working hard and doing cool stuff on the mountain. So those are my those are my top skiers.
Q: Which trick aged better: Daffy or Iron Cross?
Jonny: I mean, I love a daffy. I do think the Daffy aged better than the Iron Cross. I mean, I think if you count a 360 and you grab the Iron Cross, that’s probably aged the best. That thing has transferred into so many other tricks. So the Daffy is really a trick of its own. It’s hard to mix that with anything. I think I’ll take the Iron Cross 360.
Q: Can we get your thoughts on the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup returning this winter?
Jonny: The Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup coming here last winter was, I think, beyond our expectations. It’s one of those things where you think, it’s a race – what’s the big deal as a freestyler, right? There are obviously people who are all-in on racing all the time. But when you’re there and you’re kind of in the scene, and you’re watching these racers come down, you realize … Wow. This is a whole other level of excellence.
Even skiers who think they’re good skiers, you watch these guys and you see what they’re doing and the strength that takes and the hill they’re coming down and how hard it is. It’s very cool to experience first-hand. And then just to have that whole international flavor around the village…
I now have this longing to be here during the 1960 Olympics. When the place was just crawling with people from all over the world, hanging out together in the evenings. To me, the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup must be what it was like. Because if you look at it, it’s probably about the same production size. Like the 1960 Olympics versus, you know, a World Cup today. So it gives you an idea of what it feels like to be in the middle of an international event. And I loved it. I’m really looking forward to it coming back.