Pro freeskier legend, Chris Benchetler, grew up in the shadows of California’s eastern Sierra Nevada range where his skiing and art making evolved organically in concert with the natural world. “Mother Nature was and continues to be my best teacher!” Benchetler asserts.
His backcountry skills and dynamic artistry secured major sponsors and screen time in ski movies including the groundbreaking Afterglow. In 2007, he founded Nimbus Independent, an artsy ski film company, along with fellow pro skiers Eric Pollard, Pep Fujas, and Andy Mahre.
Benchetler created topsheet graphics for Atomic’s Bent Chetler, a wildly successful, pro model line. The company recently appointed him creative director of freeskiing. He has also created artwork for other major brands such as Smartwool and Dakine.
One of Benchetler’s most artful collaborations—a multi-brand, group of essentials designed for the ultimate backcountry skiing experience, emblazoned with the emblem of the Grateful Dead—inspired him to make a film. The result, Fire On The Mountain, is an award-winning film, narrated by Hall of Fame basketball player and self-professed Deadhead, Bill Walton. The film features Benchetler and action sports stars—his wife, pro snowboarder Kimmy Fasani, surfer Rob Machado, pro skier Michelle Parker, and pro snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Danny Davis.
In 2022, he and Kimmy launched The Benchetler Fasani Foundation after her bout with breast cancer. The BFF provides meaningful connections to the outdoors and the healing properties found in nature to those who have suffered loss or hardship.
Though skiing is still very much a way that Benchetler expresses himself, he is relying heavily on his artwork as a means of self-expression. His home studio in Mammoth evidences his commitment; paint covers the floor and bright splashes of color dot the walls. Benchetler explains, “Creating art is a process of discovery. I’m embracing my self-taught nature and throwing paint at the canvas!”