William A. Spilo: Heli Ski Guide & CBD Luxe Co-Founder
#1 Tell me about starting out as a skier vs. making it a career.
I started skiing at age three on the East Coast. My family would take trips to Vermont and Massachusetts. It wasn’t like what you see today where kids live in ski towns. It was weekend trips and a holiday or two until we moved to New Hampshire for high school and it became every day. I moved to Colorado in 1988 to pursue college, but instead I was sent around the world snowboarding, training and doing competitions and never really looked back.
I got flown to Asia to set up a snowboard program that will be in the Olympics this year, went to Europe, drove a van from Canada to Costa Rica to work on surfing for a year, guided trips to Nepal, Iceland, Chile, Croatia and more. Snowboarding has been really good to me.
#2 Today you guide professional athletes and filmmakers in some of the most remote mountains in the world. What is that like?
It’s a great way to see the world with like-minded people, great culture. We have a fun global community, but it is a niche and it’s small. Being in Alaska is the epicenter of big-mountain skiing. Anybody worth their salt in the ski film industry has to have an Alaska segment. They are the most picturesque and extreme fluted mountains I’ve ever seen.
I’ve spent a lot of time in a helicopter. It’s hard to get jaded in such an incredible machine and the instant gratification it provides. You see a distant mountain and suddenly you’re five minutes from skiing it. There’s so much intensity and camaraderie, it is extremely fulfilling and rewarding. We get dropped off by the heli and meet at the bottom.
#3 Have you witnessed a lot of injuries as a professional athlete and guide? What qualifications do you have to have?
My certifications include Avalanche Level 1-3, AMGA crevasse rescue, wilderness EMT, incident command and more. I’ve been really lucky for the amount of time in mountains and number of movies and aggressive clients and never had any serious injuries with clients. Common injuries are sprained and torn ligaments and knees and dislocated shoulders for boarders, bringing lots of inflammation. Pharmacology is what most people have resorted to.
Most people I deal with have a steady NSAID routine, taking ibuprofen every day, which is why the CBD is great. The NSAIDs are really hard on the liver and kidneys; the tradeoff is tremendous.
#4 How has CBD changed your outlook on modern medicine?
With 45 years of being around Cannabis, back in the day, everything was really hush-hush. I never talked about grass when working or with anyone I worked with. Now I recommend CBD to everyone I meet. I’m shocked at the efficacy of CBD for inflammation and pain.
Getting my neck fused was a pretty big deal. I have a plate and six screws in my neck, both shoulders redone, left knee done twice and plastic put in my face. None of those are from crashes; those are all maintenance. All of my surgeries have been maintenance: shoulders tearing apart, losing feeling in my extremities, they told me I could be paralyzed. What I find is that it relieves a lot of my back pain, tension-related issues and it is very relaxing; it gives me more of a serene state. I used to have to take tons of pharmaceuticals to not get the same relief.
#5 Could you use traditional Cannabis and do your job?
When I am working, I can’t smoke. If an accident happens, they test you, and accidents happen all the time. Plus, the level of what we are doing is so intense, you need to be firing on all eight cylinders, and I find that when people smoke they get more scared and hesitant, and hesitation kills in the mountains. The difference between life and death is all about split-second decision making, making clear and educated choices.
#6 Why did you want to start making these CBD products?
I have to go to gym a minimum of four days a week, heat up and stretch just to get my hands near my feet. I think in my early years my balls were a little bigger than my skill. What’s nice is that CBD allows me to get off the NSAIDs, and I can feel it in my stomach after ibuprofen or Aleve for weeks — it’s not worth it. I wanted to be able to share that with others who are going through the same pain and problems I live with.
I feel like at the end of the day, I’ve done something positive for people. If there is one person who can use their product and get off an opiate or other pill, that’s a real benefit…it’s something that means a lot to me personally.
#7 What kind of products is your company making and how are they different from what is on the market?
We start with Organic hemp grown in Europe and processed into a pharma-grade isolate in the U.K. This is organic according to U.K. standards, which are higher than in the U.S. It is the highest grade of CBD you will find, with no heavy metals, pesticides or molds. Ninety-nine point nine percent pure CBD, nothing less.
We put 125 mg of CBD into our natural sublingual spray that is not diluted with chemicals. Available unflavored and mint flavored, we have more flavors coming soon and a day/nighttime formula too. Capsules and cartridges are launching in December too, with a topical pain stick in the beginning of 2016.
#8 How does Cannabis fit into Colorado culture?
It seems like Cannabis culture is part of everything; it’s an alternative lifestyle pastime and so is skiing, so the integration is there. A lot of people that enjoy Cannabis enjoy skiing and lend themselves to the ideals. That independent adventure… it’s a solo sport. It’s you and the mountain with a lot of headspace. I think people who enjoy headspace enjoy Cannabis as well.”