Behind the Cover: Zac Parks
The name Zac Parks keeps cropping up in the snowmobile universe. Before we even knew much about him, there he was, gracing the cover of Mountain Sledder Magazine’s 10th issue. After getting to know Zach a little more, we figured everyone else should too. Below is a conversation with the man himself.
Photos by Ryen Dunford
Where’s home for you Zac, and what is your go-to local riding area? Do you have a favourite road tripping destination?
My hometown is Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but I was born and raised in Maple Valley, WA. My go-to riding area locally would be Trestle Creek! Trestle Creek is one of those areas that has a lot to offer for different styles of riding. You have your open trees or open hillsides for climbing, and you even have some smaller chutes to climb.
My favourite place to travel to is Revelstoke, BC or Whistler, BC. Canada is definitely the go-to spot for me and most of the people I ride with. There is so much to offer in Canada it’s unreal! We ride new spots everyday up there with untracked snow. Conditions in Idaho havent been good the last 3 years, so I haven’t even bothered to ride the local areas. It’s definitly hard on the bank account traveling to Canada every week, but it’s all worth it in the end.
How many years have you been riding, and what was your first sledding experience?
I’ve been riding for only 6 years, and it’s crazy to think most guys that I ride with have been doing it for 15 years plus! My first sledding experiance was in Chelan, WA with my buddy Ryan Miller and his parents. It was a very interesting day, due to me having never been on a snowmobile before, haha. I was used to racing motorcross, not riding snowmobiles.
I think the hardest part was not knowing how to sidehill but that didn’t last for long. It took about two to four more rides for me to really figure it out. Once I got the feel for things it started to pick up pretty quick. After I got sidehilling down, it gave me more confidence.
After that, I wanted to take things to the next level so I starting meeting people up on the hill that were very experienced riders. I always asked if I could tag along so I could get some more knowledge on how to do more things on a snowmobile. Ever since that day I have been a big snowmobile enthusiast and don’t plan on stopping ever.
What plans do you have for this season? How do you get prepared for a long winter of riding?
So far I have planned on filming in Canada for the new Hickshow Productions film and a few more commercial things again this year. It’s crazy to think you can get 3 or more hours of footage all winter for one film then only see about 2-5 minute of it make it in the film. I gotta give a shout out to Cam And Tyler Hicks for all the hard work they put in every year!
As far as the commercials go they are a lot of work to get ready for, your sled and gear have to be on point and looking sharp everyday. We will shoot for three or four days no matter the weather conditions. It sure does help the snowmobile funds for the year, that’s for sure.
You’re a family man. How do you find a balance between family life and chasing snow?
Oh man, that’s a good question! My wife and I are fortunate enough to work for ourselves. I own Northwest Parking Lot Services, a parking lot maintenance company that works only 6 months out of the year, so I take winters off. My wife also works for Coldwell Banker as a real estate agent. So we have very flexible schedules.
I work almost 6 days a week during that 6-month period that my company is working, and my wife will work part-time and raise our little 2-year-old. When I’m done with work for the year I take over being a stay-at-home Dad while my wife gets back to work full-time in real estate. So for me to find time to ride, the wife and I will have set days during the week when I can ride and Grandma and Grandpa will normally watch our little one. Or if the wife isn’t busy she will watch her. I’m so thankful for how supportive my wife and family are for me. I wouldn’t trade them for the world!
How does being on sledding photo shoot with a film crew differ from a regular day of shredding with your buds?
I would have to say a photo shoot is like having a job. You’re there to do one thing, and that’s to listen to the photographer and get the best shots possible. But it all depends on what kind of photo shoot it is I guess. Shooting commercials is really not that fun because there is a lot of waiting. It’s hard to be patient, being out there in the mountains when all you wanna do is go shred.
Shooting for a buddy that’s a photographer is probably the best, because he’s down to shoot and ride where you wanna go and what jumps you wanna hit. For most commercial shoots you have to play everything safe and can’t jump a whole lot.
Now shooting for Hickshow Productions is awesome, you’re out there to find the biggest and best lines possible for your segment. Not only that, I get to ride with most of my buddies that I shred with everyday on the hill, so it’s always a good time!
Congratulations on nailing the cover of Mountain Sledder Magazine issue 10! What advice would you give aspiring athletes about how to get exposure?
Thank You! I’m super stoked to get the cover shot. I would have to say the key is to find a photographer and go out and get shots of you on the mountain riding to start, then start posting the best ones of you on social media. The way I started was by getting a nice video camera and bringing it out every time I rode to see how I looked on camera and to also to see what I was doing wrong in the videos. I would study myself and then compare it to riders that were better than myself.
So for instance when I chose to ride mainly trees, I would watch other riders do the same and pick up little tricks that I could work on. After I got tree riding down really good and I started getting better video of myself, I would post small video clips and photos online for other riders and companies to start looking at.
Building a media resume is a great tool. Sending your portfolio around will help get your name out to companies. Most sponsors want to see photos, video, information about yourself and to learn how are you going to be an asset to their company. Having a relationship with a company is a huge deal. And remember that you will get lots of exposure when they post all those great photos that you send them on a weekly basis.
Thanks Zac! And good luck with all your endeavours this season!