December 24, 2012

Community Profile: Michael (Hansee) Hans

Hans Flame

By now, regardless of how long you have lived in the Gunnison Valley, there is a very good chance you have heard of Matchstick Productions or MSP. MSP is one of the godfathers of the ski movie industry and they are celebrating their 20th anniversary with this year’s release of their newest ski movie “Super Heroes of Stoke.” They have been filming some of skiing’s greatest stars of the silver screen since the early 90’s and have always been based right here in beautiful CB. The West Elk Project has had a chance to sit down with the members of Matchstick over the last few weeks to give you an inside peek at who the individuals are behind our annual dose of skiing stoke!
Photo: Nina Weyl | Hansee and good friend and former MSP team member Jesse Weyl skiing the extremes at Crested Butte.

Photo: Nina Weyl | Hansee with good friend and MSP team member Jesse Weyl skiing the extremes at Crested Butte.

The first member of MSP that we sat down with was Michael Hans, or Hansee as just about everyone who is anyone in the ski industry knows him. Hansee’s official title is Director of Business Operations but he is definitely a do it all kind of guy. On any given day of the year his desk is mission control for MSP’s operations in the field, keeping contact with athletes, maintaining relationships with sponsorship partners and so much more. And while he has not been with Matchstick since its inception by founders Murray Wais and Steve Winter, Hansee has been an integral part of the team since he was first hired in 2003 to help out on the premiere tour of “Focused.”  Just another really cool individual living among us in this incredible valley, this is Mike Hans:

Where are you from originally?  

 I grew up just outside of Portland, ME on Sebago Lake.  Great place to be a kid, not the best place to be a skier.

How long have you been skiing and loving winter in the mountains? 

 I started skiing 22 years ago at Shawnee Peak, but it wasn’t until 1995 when I moved to Oregon that the bug really bit me.  I was on Mt. Hood during an interesting couple of years when kids were discovering that they could do all the same stuff on skis that their snowboarding counterparts were doing.  We started dabbling in the terrain park and crashed twice as often as we landed, but at the time it was some of the most fun I ever had.

Do you get to fly in helicopters at your job? Hansee looks the part, moustache and all,  while on location for a shoot with MSP.

Do you get to fly in helicopters at your job? Hansee looks the part, moustache and all, while on location for a shoot with MSP.

How long have you been in CB/Gunnison? 

 I first moved to Gunnison to attend WSC in August of 1998 after a year of college in New York.  I made the move north to Crested Butte sometime around 2001-2002.

What  brought you here?  

 I hated my first year of school in New York, and while I was there I maintained a long-distance relationship with a girl who was attending UNC in Greeley.  Having never been to Colorado, I assumed the whole state was covered in big, beautiful mountains… needless to say, Greeley didn’t quite look like the Colorado I had imagined.  But every time I flew into Denver and saw all those big peaks to the west I knew there was more to this state than a stinky cow town in the plains.  I spent my spring break that year traveling around the state and checking out a bunch of different schools.  Considering I’ve always been a small town kid – and with the allure of CBMR only 30 minutes away – Gunnison seemed like the right fit.

Shane McConkey and Tanner Hall fooling around on the set of the intro for "Yearbook,"  Mike's second major project with MSP.

Shane McConkey and Tanner Hall fooling around on the set of the intro for “Yearbook,” Mike’s second major project with MSP.

What kept you here?  

 Once I finished school, very little kept me here.  Nothing, in fact.  After traveling as an intern with Mountain Sports International during the winter of 2002, work opportunities dried up for me the following spring / summer.  I stacked firewood and did whatever I could around CB for a quick buck.  The next fall, when MSI relocated to Salt Lake City, I ended up inadvertently going with them.  That kept me in Utah for about a year and half, followed by some opportunities that took me to Reno, NV for two years after that.  I continued working and traveling with MSI in the winters, then worked on some really unique cycling races and supermoto races during my summers in Reno.  Eventually those things had come and gone and I asked myself, “how the hell did I end up in Reno?”  I made a quick decision to come back to Crested Butte during the summer of 2006 and never looked back.

You have been a part of the action sports industry since you got out of college right? What is the coolest job you have had so far? 

 The coolest job I’ve had is probably the one I have right now, although I miss a lot of the travel and the camaraderie of my MSI days.  But unfortunately, I never had anything tangible to show at the end of those events that we produced… we’d show up, put on the event, then tear it all down and leave.  It became pretty depressing after a while.  Now, making movies with MSP, we have this really tangible thing to show to the world at the end of a year of hard work.  I really like that – it feels like there’s a payoff, and one that people really seem to enjoy, at that.

How long have you been a part of MSP?  

 I had known a few of the guys at MSP for a year or so, and got my first opportunity helping out with the movie tour for “Focused” in 2003.  The following year I helped produce the opening shoot for “Yearbook” and did so again for the opening of “Push” in 2006.  By the time I was living back in CB during the summer of 2006, MSP was blowing up with an HDTV series and a few other exciting projects.  It’s been a full-time gig ever since.

Hansee ripping the slopes while enjoying on of the perks of his ski Industry lifestyle.

Hansee ripping the slopes while enjoying the perks of the ski industry lifestyle.

Any highlights from years past?  

 Too many highlights to count, really.  Unfortunately, it’s the low points that really stick with you.  Like getting the phone call from Italy right after Shane McConkey died… that’s one of the things I’ll never forget, but I try not to let it overshadow the good things.  I’ve met and worked with some of the coolest individuals on this planet, whether they be coworkers, athletes, or sponsors.  I’ll take those relationships with me for the rest of my life.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

What does your perfect day out of the office consist of (during the winter)? 

 In the winter, nothing beats that feeling of waking up after seeing double-digit snow forecasts the night before.  Getting out the door with everything pre-prepped and ready to go, grabbing a coffee at Camp 4, and meeting up with the boys on the hill for a solid afternoon of shredding is where it’s at.  A few aprés beers at the Avalanche while watching another double-digit snow forecast on the Weather Channel, and I’m good to go.

Getting in touch with his Maine roots for Halloween in CB. Do you need assistance!?

Do you need assistance?!  Getting in touch with his Maine roots for Halloween in CB.

What do you want the people of Crested Butte to know about you that they might not already know? 

 I’d like them to know that when I moved back here in 2006 and drove back up HWY 135 again for the first time, I had this overwhelming sense of what it means to come home.  I swore to myself that day that I would never take this place for granted again, and I do my best to stick to that.  During the hustle and bustle of the busy times, it’s easy to put my head down and forget about what’s around me.  But I still make it a point to stop, breathe, and look around.  It’s those times that my head goes right back to where I was that day when I came home, and I think it’s super important for everyone in this amazing place to do the same thing once in a while.  We live in the best place on earth – don’t ever forget that.  You can leave if you have to, and that’s ok because you can always come back.  I’ve done it and I know several others who have as well.  Most of us are happier because of it.

Thanks so much to Hansee and the MSP family for photos! You can get your copy of MSP’s latest, “Superheroes of Stoke” at

About the Author

3. Trent Bona
With the mountains, mountain culture and action sports as constant inspiration, Trent Bona has earned a respected name as a commercial and editorial photographer. An experienced international traveler, he knows more than a thing or two about roughing it abroad. His expertise is venturing far into the backcountry, of any continent, to capture adventure sports in one of their true habitats: the vastness of the unconquered outdoors.