Kieran McVeigh || Where Are They Now?

I remember watching Kieran Mcveigh as he first made his steps on the scene. This was a new generation of skiing, a new style, a new way, it was great to see. The way he used his skis looked fun and different, a wild representation of someones interpretation of skiing and what more to say than it was refreshing.

He was buttering all over the mountain, Nose and tail pressing everything, mixing in presses with switch ups, he was one of the few American skiers that matched a similar style as the Bunch boys who were starting to make a large presence at the time as well. That's why he fit perfectly in the "The Bunch" movies and put in some rad segments with those boys.

All of a sudden, Kieran started to appear less and less around the ski world, I knew he had some injuries, and it always comes with some setbacks. Well, after some of these setbacks he decided school was a great route, and it sounds like he's crushing it in that direction. So lets see what he's got to say.

AD: First of all, You were an innovator of your times Kieran. You were using your skis like very few people were at the time. What was your unique take on skiing that paved the way for you to ski like this?

KM: I think my environment created my take.  First growing up at Sugarbush, where there was a really strong snowboard scene I (and I think many others there) were drawn to that type of riding.  Focusing a lot on flexing your skis, doing presses, butters, and things of that nature. That exposure in turn probably influenced the type of skiing I wanted to watch and do.  Obviously people like You, Hornbeck, Delorne, B-dog, and Henrik were hugely influential and opened the door for that sort of style focused skiing. It also led me to really appreciate some of the more underground skiers, like Brady Perron and Garrett Russell, growing up those were two of my favorite skiers.  Once I got a little older I started watching a lot of Snowboarding and Skating, specifically a lot of Scott Stevens. The low speed, technical approaches I really dug and tried to integrate into my own skiing, probably in part because I’m a pretty mellow dude and don’t like getting hurt or being terrified all the time. Then once I started skiing with the bunch they obviously had a huge influence, not just in seeing how they skied, but also in them just encouraging me to ski how I wanted to.  Honestly, a big part is, it just felt so damn cool to do something slow and flexed out (on rails or on snow) then ride away smooth. I fell in love with that effortless feeling, which I think kept me going back to all the other influences I mentioned above to figure out new ways to get the same feeling.

AD: Tell us about the process you went through to get your skis as soft as you could get them.

KM: I’ve been asked this a bunch of times (relatively), I think a few pictures I took of my skis clamped together with books shoved in the tips overblew this a little bit.  I would do things like that when I first got a pair of skis, just keep them flexed for a couple days but it never hugely changed how soft they were it was more just about breaking them in.  When you’re buttering a lot every day you skis tend to break in. I also rode soft skis to begin with so that helped too, but honestly nothing too crazy, a little bit of clamping, a lot of skiing.

AD: To me it seemed like you were in the ski world one second, then altogether dropped out the next, there wasn’t so much of a slowly fading away, but a complete change up.  What made you come to this choice to leave skiing?

KM: It actually wasn’t much of a conscious decision, I think it was a combination of being in school, getting hurt, and being a little isolated from the ski scene in Southern California.  So the fall of 2013 I started college but filmed a fair amount that year and was still (I think) pretty in the scene, had a part in 'Finess" etc. The other really sick thing about that year was a solid crew from VT moved to "Big Bear" so I would go chill and ski with them on the weekends winter of 2013.  But, when ski season ended and I still had two more months of school, after basically being on campus two days a week during I was a little socially isolated. Everyone I was tight with my first semester I wasn’t nearly as tight with anymore because I basically disappeared from Campus November - Mid April, and that was a bummer.  I sort of had a foot in both worlds that winter.

  Then come winter 2014-2015, I dislocated my shoulder surfing in January, and tried to just rehab super hard but wasn’t cleared to start skiing again until April.  So that winter was pretty much a wash skiing wise, but also really marked the demise off my presence in the ski scene. Then after that my feet were firmly in the school world.  I still would go ski at Mt High, but I no longer thought of myself as a “pro” skier or saw being pro as something I wanted to pursue. My whole life was at school rather than being split between school and ski world.   The other thing that contributed to me never really coming back is I never got confidence back in my shoulder which, given that I dislocated it another 4 times, before I wisened up and got surgery was probably for good reason.  So constantly being a little afraid, if my shoulder would pop out, made pushing skiing really hard and a little less appealing too.  

AD: I’m curious to whether you stay updated on whats going on in the ski world, and if you do, what have you been enjoying most? Who’s skiing do you like the best? Lastly, is there a certain direction that you see now that you don’t Jive with?

KM: It ebbs and flows.  I think I see most of the banger edits that come out, and I definitely watch stuff from things like Kimbo Sessions, Real Ski etc.  As far as the straight up skiing I definitely still back the Bunch super hard (surprising no one). When I watched Par’s real ski, I remember thinking this is exactly what I wanted to ski like (minus the flips).  Jake Carney too for sure. My preferences purely based on skiing have not changed much, but I’m now way more about the good vibes edits. Back when I skied alot, I was often serious, I was really trying to say something with my skiing in a way.  Keeping the skiing smooth and on brand was important to me, that transferred over into what I liked to watch. Partly cause I think I felt like I was competing for limited resources with other types of skiing. Now I’m obviously not competing for resources, so I think I’m less biased and enjoy a greater variety of content. Like there is one edit that came out of these waterville academy kids (I think) just hucking, and often crashing so hard, I think it was called a year in the life of a competition skier or something. I thought that edit was hilarious but I probably wouldn’t have liked it when I skied.  

As far as things I think are wack, I’m not sure. Nothing comes to mind, one thing I think is a kind of crazy, is just how much lower the talent bar for people to throw dubs is now. Like when Jon Olsson started throwing Kangaroo flips, for any one to think about throwing a double, you had to be so good, like all 4 nines with blunts.  Now it seems like you can cork 7 and you’ve done a dub 10 on a tramp you’re good go. I think thats sort of wack, but at the same time I do like just seeing random people throwing sketchy dubs, I just get concerned for them. 

AD: What are you going to school for and where do you see yourself in the next decade of your life? Anyway you can see yourself coming back to skiing at some point?

KM: So I’m actually not in school right now.  I graduated from Pomona in 2017 after studying Psychology and some computer science there.  I got a job working at a health coaching company in Alabama (longish story), wanting to help to design the psychological interventions they were implementing, but ended up in a software engineering role there.  I quit that job in December and moved to Boston to do neuroscience research, on Emotions specifically fear.  

Now I’m in the process of getting ready to apply to Phd programs in Neuroscience.  I’m studying for the GRE right now which sucks, but I crushed my practice test this weekend so that’s tight. As far as the next decade - its terrifying to say but at least half of it will be taken up by hopefully getting a Phd. After that, who knows.  But I’m really hoping to do some cool mind body research, specifically on Interoception (the sense of what is going on in your body, for example how do know your heart is beating fast), and the implications interoception has for decision making, and mental health.

As far as coming back to skiing in any public way, highly doubtful, every once in awhile I joke about filming a come back segment, but the chances are slim.  I would however, love to ski regularly. I’m hoping to get back out a bunch this winter in Northeast, season passes ain’t cheap unfortunately. I still feel like skiing (skating and surfing) too for that matter are some of the funnest/best ways to spend time.

AD: I had someone interested in me asking you for advice on the ability to cut off ties to the Freeski scene and leave? Was it a difficult path for you, whats made it worth it for you now?

KM: So as I mentioned above this wasn’t a conscious decision, a lot of it was just my situation.  I guess you could say going to school was the conscious decision, because even though, at the time, I still sort of thought naively that I would be able to do both. That didn’t end up happening (for very long at least).  I’m happy where I’m at right now, I’m doing work I’m really stoked on but is my life perfect, no. Do I miss skiing, for sure. I mean so many good friends that I barely see now. Thats one of the biggest bummers but the same can be said for moving away from home.  I also feel a similar way about moving away from Birmingham, a lot of really good friends I just don’t get to see, which sucks.  

So any advice? I don’t have any advice really, I just ended up in a situation (partially injury driven) that made my life grow away from skiing, so in that sense it was easy because it became the default option.  To stay in school, to go surf with my friends on the weekends rather than drive up to the mountains. Now that I’m thinking about it more, I think thats a big part of it after, my first year at school there wasn’t much pulling me into the scene, because I was geographically and socially isolated from it. It’s not to say I didn’t ski, My junior year I skied a bunch with one of my best friends at school, but the thought of filming never crossed our mind.  My life outside of skiing just grew, I developed closer relationships with people at school, and started surfing more.

I started to be a little bit more “serious” or “interest” or “inspired” by my academic interests and that started fueling the fire a little bit more.  I think its this growth for me in other parts of my life that makes it worth it. Which is not to say that you can’t find a similiar growth in the ski world, you can, mine just happened to be at school.  Part of it is a personality thing, I’m super intense, I don’t know if I come off like that but when I was skiing a lot of my identity was tied up in my skiing. Now its more like I have different facets of myself or they're a little bit more developed, academically, socially, skating, surfing, rock climbing etc.  Which is good too, but I do also really miss just identifying with one thing (skiing) completely. I miss skiing a ton, the feeling of doing something you love with friends is awesome, I find it more now in skating, climbing and surfing. So yeah its been hard but it feels natural in a way too. 

AD: Hows life for you out in Boston? take us through a typical day in the life of Kieran.

KM: Life in Boston is good.  It’s too fast at the moment, but its all good, I’m looking for an apartment for next year and studying for the GRE right now, in addition to my job, which really is not bad, but still a little more hectic then I like. 

Average day in the life, wake up a little before 7 take a shower, do my morning routine, bike in to work, which is typically sick,  I live in Jamaica Plain and work at Northeastern, and theres a huge squad of bike commuters, which I love, it feels a little like us against the cars - ha.  Into work around 8 where I study for the GRE for about an hour before starting “real” work. From then on, it really depends whether we’re scannning or not. I work in a Neuro imaging lab (fMRI - which measures (sorta) where blood is in people’s brain - which we then use as a proxy for what areas of the brain are involved in what sorts of processes).  So if we’re scanning that’s actually at MGH in Charleston - so I bike over there, and those days are usually pretty chill alot of it is just hanging out while the participant is in the scanner doing the experiment. You have to send them into the scanner and setup the scanner and what not but its like 15-20 minutes of work then a lot of down time, and a little giving them instructions over the intercom.  So that’s what my day looks like if were scanning which is 1-2 days a week.

   If not scanning, I’m usually sending some organizational type emails in the morning, which is not the highlight of my day but is necessary.  Then it depends, sometimes I’m coding tasks, so creating a program to show people X video for so long proceeded by some sort of cue, then ask Y, Z follow up questions etc.  As well as writing manuscripts (the fancy word for drafts of papers) about research studies we’ve already done, and some data analysis.  

Then out of work between like 5:30 - 6:30 usually,  lately a few days a week I bike somewhere in Boston to check out an apartment, which is not how I like to spend my time but it just has to be done then.  Other days I go rock climbing, which is fun but not as good as skiing, not enough style in it. Then sometimes I’m going to grab dinner with friends or something along those lines.  All in all, its funny how standard it all is, I’m pretty much just a working stiff, which I’ve found as long as I’m doing work I’m stoked on, I’m ok with.


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