Cover shot

Durango skier on magazine cover again – 27 years later

13-year-old Sven Brunso makes his magazine cover debut on a faux-cover of Skiing Magazine in 1983. Enlarge photo

Courtesy photo

13-year-old Sven Brunso makes his magazine cover debut on a faux-cover of Skiing Magazine in 1983.

There he is, in an epic scene of San Juan deep powder, on the cover of the current Skiing Magazine.

Flashback 27 years.

There he is, an impressionable 13-year-old holding a pair of skis and ski poles, on the cover of Skiing.

Sven Brunso’s career as a ski magazine cover dude came full circle this month with the release of the Winter 2010/11 edition of Skiing Magazine.

The awe-inspiring cover powder shot of Brunso was taken by noted ski photographer Martin Söderquist last January on a northeast exposure of Engineer Mountain north of Durango.

“This really bookends what I wanted to do,” Brunso said this week on the 27-year anniversary of his appearance on a special magazine cover – a faux-cover taken at a photo booth at Knott’s Berry Farm in California in 1983.

Brunso, the vice president of sales and marketing for Durango Mountain Resort, is a longtime professional skier/ski photographer. He’s appeared on magazine covers as a skiing model, and he’s taken cover photos for magazine covers.

He’s been on more than 50 covers, in fact, from Powder to Men’s Journal to Couloir to Backcountry.

The 1983 faux-cover was his first.

“We went there on a trip ... as a family,” said Brunso, who lived with his family in Southern California at the time.

The photo booth at Knott’s berry Farm had all kinds of magazine covers and the appropriate props.

“Ironically, I grew up in Southern California but I never wanted to be (on the cover) of Surfing or Surf Rider. I happened to pick Skiing. That was the one magazine I always wanted to be on as a kid,” said Brunso, who grew up in Huntington Beach.

As a ski-infatuated teenager, Brunso saved money to buy his own subscription to Skiing Magazine.

“It was the only magazine I read all the time,” said Brunso, who even then dreamed of a career in skiing.

Now he’s on the magazine cover for real, complete with a recount inside of Brunso’s journey from the Knott’s Berry Farm faux cover to the magazine (and cover) that was released Wednesday.

Brunso, who has skied all over the world, nearly made the Skiing cover several times.

On three occasions, a shot of Brunso was among the finalists for the magazine cover. But those shots didn’t make the final cut.

The shots from the January 2010 ski trip to Engineer did make the final cut.

“That was the shot of the day,” Brunso said. He and Söderquist set out to do a climb and ski on Engineer. They found a spot they liked.

“I skinned up and dropped in,” Brunso said. The cold snow, from that January day, floated up and around Brunso as he drifted down through the snowpack.

“Fifteen minutes later, a storm moved in,” Brunso said, reinforcing the key aspect of timing on a ski photo shoot.

“That was it.”

The final selection of the shot prompted Brunso to look through some files at home where he found the original 8x10 color faux-cover from Knott’s Berry Farm.

“The whole story ... shows that what you dream as a kid can come to fruition on occasion,” said Brunso, who joined DMR eight years ago after an extensive career in the winter sports industry.

The former Fort Lewis College student has never been far from skiing or snow.

He and his wife Beth, in fact, named their two children Stowe and Aspen.

Brunso also is featured in the November issue of Backcountry, where a two-page color photograph captures Brunso skiing in the late twilight near Lyngen, Norway.

Last spring, Brunso was a skier model in a Backcountry advertisement for an Osprey pack.

In the shot, he’s skiing in the Remarkables in New Zealand, captured by Durango photographer Scott DW Smith, who has collaborated with Brunso on numerous projects from the time they first met as freshmen in the same dorm at Fort Lewis College.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to ski all over the world,” Brunso said.

“I’ve been able to (pro ski) for a long time. I think that’s what I’m most proud of,” he said, adding that the same drive that pushes him as a pro skier also propels him in the competitive arena of ski resort marketing.

“I’ve always been driven ... competitive ... as a skier, a photographer,” the 40-year-old Brunso said.

Now, he transfers that same intensity into his vocation.

“My passion for the (ski) industry has been paramount to my success. This is where my heart is,” said Brunso, who came to the mountains with a dream and never left.

From Fort Lewis to the University of Arizona, Brunso cultivated his interest in skiing as he picked up degrees in marketing and finance.

After graduation from the University of Arizona, Brunso and his bride came back to Durango to enjoy the summer.

In a mountain tale that has been replayed countless times, they couldn’t leave. They stayed and skied and skied and skied.

He connected as a skiing model for a shoot for Powder – all the while becoming a fixture at the Red Snapper in downtown Durango.

More photographers called.

His itinerary went international: Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Italy, France, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand.

Photographs of Brunso appeared in nearly every ski-related publication. His image has appeared more than 2,500 times since his debut in 1992.

He’s since branched out to shoot his own photographs.

He integrated his own photography into his skiing expeditions, taking advantage of his own experience as a big- mountain ski model.

“I know what skiers can and can’t do ... what they are capable of,” Brunso said.

“I can see the shots (before they are taken).”

He also started working with Durango Mountain Resort – shooting photographs, serving as a skiing model, etc.

Brunso’s now been with DMR for eight years.

He’s still skiing professionally.

And he’s still a cover dude ... 27 years later.


Durango’s Sven Brunso appears on the cover of the current issue of Skiing Magazine, reveling in the powder on a ridge of Engineer Mountain. Enlarge photo

Courtesy photo

Durango’s Sven Brunso appears on the cover of the current issue of Skiing Magazine, reveling in the powder on a ridge of Engineer Mountain.