Sammy Carlson flies high in digital debut

X Games star Sammy Carlson bought his new iPhone 5 just in time to see his video game character fly through the air on the screen in front of him.

“Fresh phone for a fresh game,” Carlson says as we talk about the freeskier’s appearance in “APO Snow,” an addictive new 3D action sports game available for iOS and Android.

The game features six athletes from APO’s lineup of skiers and snowboarders, and includes high-flying courses from Mammoth, Calif., to Les Crosets in Switzerland. The more you trick, the more money you’ll earn, upgrading equipment and even earning enough cash to unlock the character with the sweetest skills: Sammy Carlson.

“It’s pretty cool to have a video game out there where people can play as me,” Carlson said. “I’ve been playing as myself, but unfortunately, I’m not as good as myself as I’d like to be, but I’ll get the tricks down soon.

“I’m not the biggest video game player, but I know Willie Borm is really excited to be in the game because he’s a huge gamer. It takes me a little longer to get the controls down, but I’m getting better. I’m a better skier in real life, for sure.”

One thing Carlson does love about the “APO Snow” app is his ability to fly high without the danger of pain. “You can get some really big air in the game, and when you fall, you don’t hurt,” he says with a laugh.

Carlson hopes the new game will give kids without the chance to ski or snowboard the opportunity to try out some tricks on their phones, and thinks it might inspire them to one day try them for real.

“For me, I grew up in Oregon where there’s year-round skiing, but I owe a lot of my career to my family,” says Carlson. “Skiing was a family thing for us, and I just fell in love with it. I tried to get to the hill as much as I could growing up, and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time during the summer up on Mount Hood, where there was snow year round.

“I was about 12 years old when I started to focus on freeski and rails and jumping. It’s just the feeling that you get from it; it’s hard to explain, but when you’re up there, you get that feeling like nothing else.”

It's a feeling Carlson took to extremes with his trademark switch triple cork that he unleashed at the X Games a couple of years back.

“You take off the jump backwards and do three corks in a 1260 rotation," he said. "I was one of the first dudes to do one of the triple cork variations, so I was pretty stoked to be a part of that movement. Now I’m trying to do it in the video game.”

And while Carlson has been sitting out with an injury this year, the X Games gold medalist says he has some big ideas for the 2013 winter event.

“I’ve got big plans, for sure. I need to go back and get redemption,” Carlson says. “I’ve been competing in X Games for eight years, so I’ll be stoked to be back, and I’m definitely pushing myself to be a big part of it coming up. Luckily, through one of my sponsors, I was able to spend just about every day at the Nike campus rehabbing and working with a physical therapist and personal trainer to get me back to full strength. We really concentrated on getting my knee and leg strong, and I’m really lucky that I didn’t need surgery. I have my original leg, and I’m feeling strong.”

In the meantime, he’ll work on some new tricks thanks to his iPhone.

“I’m really stoked to be a part of APO, and it’s exciting to see them doing big things with this game,” says Carlson. “It’s pretty crazy to be able to pull out my phone and see myself in a video game, that’s for sure.”