Michael Ankeny is no stranger to the life of an independent athlete. Although he’s been a regular on the World Cup slalom circuit since his debut in Kitzbuehel back in 2011, Ankeny spent the 2014-15 winter separate of the U.S. Ski Team and managed to turn it into an overall NorAm title and his re-nomination to the national team at the end of that season.

This year, Ankeny is once again competing independent of the national team after not receiving a nomination following a winter in which he made his first World Ski Championships appearance in St. Moritz and his second straight scoring result in the iconic Adelboden slalom. Instead of letting disappointment get the best of him, Ankeny decided to put on his thinking cap and get planning for another successful season as an independent.

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After ski testing earlier in the summer, Ankeny made the decision to partner with Marker, Voelkl, and Dalbello for his equipment needs this year, as well as teaming up with fellow independent athlete, University of New Mexico Lobo, and Finland native Joonas Rasanen to share training resources and creative Instagram stories throughout their year on the World Cup.

Speaking of creative Instagrams, Ankeny has also aligned with college friend and creator of the now famous Slalom Tokyo Drift account Ian Macomber to conduct his fundraising efforts for the year. Ankeny’s RallyMe features an intro video with goofy narration full of Tokyo Drift-worthy humor laying out his goals for the season as well as a cameo by Macomber himself. The incentives are just as creative with everything from “virtual hugs” and branded Hawaiian shirts all the way to a spring break trip with Ankeny, Macomber, and the rest of the Slalom Tokyo Drift crew up for grabs.

In fact, Ankeny’s FaceTime incentive intrigued us to the point that we were able to negotiate some time with the man himself during his prep for the 2017-18 World Cup opener in Levi, Finland. Check out some highlights from our chat in the video below: