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Mt Hood Super Sessions Legs of Steel Interview Skiing The Middle East

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NO S H O You didn’t hike all this way up the mountain to just ski back down. You’ve been picturing your line all day. It’s the only thing you’ve thought about. You’re not just here to befriend the mountain. You’re here to conquer it.

SCOTT-SPORTS.COM © SCOTT SPORTS SA 2014 | Photorights: www.freerideworldtour.com, Photo by Dom Daher


FREERIDE WORLD CHAMPION 2014

LOÏC COLLOMB-PATTON

R TC U T S


KARL FOSTVEDT

RELAPSE


A Modern Take On Classic Style

Spare Low-Light Lens

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DROPPING

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UT IDEBIS VOLUPTA QUIBUS ET ACCULPA DEL IM INCTUR SI TEMPORPOREM LA DOLESSUM EST OMMOS ET LIGNAM AUT ET VOLUPTA TINVELENIA SED ULLANTIIS DEBIS QUO CUMQUOSSERIA PORERIBUS QUOD MAION RE PREPEDIS QUI NULPA IM ANDIPIET ALISTIO RIORIA QUATIBE RUPTIUMQUAS NUM, OFFICIT AUTATUR RATIONS EROVIT DUSDAM ISQUASPICIUM EXPLABO. SANTO CUS, QUI UT ES SUM INCIUM SAM, QUAM LIQUAM VENDERO ESTIUR? QUIS INVERES CIISCIUS ELIBERUM EOS AD QUIS EARUMQUE MODI ODI BLABOR MAGNAMUSDA VENIHICIUM AUT ODIATIASI TOTAERUMENT ODITATUS EOS REPRATE PORRORPOR MOLENDAM FACES DOLUPTA TURESEDISI BEARCIT, VOLUPTIAS INCIASP ERNATIBUSAM ACCUM QUATUR?


Photo: Erik SEO Spot: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Skier: Tim McCHESNEY So yeah, this photo right here is pretty epic. However, to fully appreciate the extent of awesomeness that Tim McChesney is throwing down in the streets of Minneapolis, we felt a little explanation was necessary. The take-off for this gnarly urban feature is just under the street lamp on the right and Tim got towed in at high speed by a winch, had to lipslide the upwards-slanted rail with enough speed to make the four-meter gap to transition in the landing. Needless to say, Tim nailed it and Erik Seo captured this stunning photo.


The Solution “Well, Sir, it’s this rug I had. It really tied the room together.”

EDITORIAL

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FEBRUARY

Jeffrey “The Dude” LEBOWSKI

May I present Daniel Loosli, photographer by trade, laying down a swell 360 seatbelt on a backcountry jump in Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland, photographed by his mate Mike Knobel.

HOCH-YBRIG

Sometimes the simplest solution is also the best.

DANIEL LOOSLI

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Well, it’s this photo. I thought it really tied the magazine together. Klaus, the Photo Editor and all around magazine guru wasn’t convinced. So I quite gladly sacrifice the editorial text.

MIKE KNOBEL

Selecting photos for a magazine is no easy task. Occasionally, the Photo Editor and Editor-in-Chief can’t quite agree on what photos make it into the Gallery.

Mark VON ROY


CONTENT

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February Issue

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FEBRUARY

Cover

Skier: Sammy CARLSON

Spot: Mount Hood, Oregon

Photo: Darcy BACHA

16

Dialogue

34

20

Freshies

36

Gear

22

Gallery

38

Essentials

42

Talent

40

Creative

Lucas STĂ…L-MADISON

Brains

The Human Factor Charging Armor

Tom GRANIER Fraser McDOUGALL

Aaron SCHWARTZ

Fea tur es

46 56 64

76

Thought

78

History

80

Science

86

Insider

88

Destination

The Freestyle in Freeride The Loop

Majestic Mount Hood:

Spring Super Sessions

The Middle East Experience:

Skiing Ambassadors in Mystic Lands

Along for the Ride:

The Legs of Steel Interview

82

Spray

84

Crew

92

Portrait

96

Vibes

Skier Elitism Stept Productions

To Build a Ski

Ethan STONE Kotelnica Bialczanska Silvretta Montafon

Bruno COMPAGNET Shades of Winter


Contributors

FEBRUARY

IMPRINT

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Sam Smoothy

Pally Learmond

Watching Sam ski down Freeride World Tour faces one would never expect him to be so eloquent. His no-holds-barred charging lines brought Smoothy 4th in the 2012 and 2nd in the 2014 overall FWT rankings. Although his way with words could earn him some accolades as well; he is even known to write lyrics for the occasional folk song.

As honorary member of Legs of Steel, Pally has seen and been a part of almost all LOS shenanigans. Living just down the road from the infamous LOS house, Pally photographs most of their missions and parties with them just as much. A talented photographer, he also does a bunch of commercial work.

Aaron Schwartz

Darcy Bacha

While he would never tell you this without being prompted, Aaron continuously grows his hair to beyond shoulder length only to shave it all off and donate the hair for kids undergoing chemo. Yeah, he’s a stand up guy but Aaron is also a super talented illustrator, designer and photographer that sifts around Laax, Switzerland.

A keen eye and dedication to go the extra mile sets Darcy apart from other photographers. Living at the base of Mount Hood in Oregon, he can often be found taking snaps at Windells Summer Camp, or deep in the wilder parts of the volcano. When not taking photos, he is usually waist deep in a river catching trout.

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Imprint PUBLISHER Distillery Concept & Creation GmbH Innsbruck, Austria

EDITORIAL STAFF Alexandra Engels | alexe@distillery.cc David Malacrida | david@distillery.cc

EDITOR IN CHIEF Mark von Roy | mark@distillery.cc

ENGLISH TRANSLATION & CORRECTION Mark von Roy, Kyle Meyr

PRODUCTION MANAGER & PHOTO EDITOR Klaus Polzer | klaus@distillery.cc

MAGAZINE LAYOUT & DESIGN Floyd E. Schulze | hello@wthm.net

PHOTOGRAPHERS Darcy Bacha, Alessandro Belluscio, Jeremy Bernard, Jonas Blum, Michael Brechbuehler, Chris Burkard, David Carlier, Adam Clark, Oskar Enander, Mario Feil, Ruedi Flück, Mattias Fredriksson, Kurt Heine, Chris Holter, Blake Jorgenson, Mateusz Kiszela, Mike Knobel, Pally Learmond, Ville-Petteri Määttä, David Malacrida, Rocky Maloney, Kari Medig, Kyle Meyr, Adrian Nordenberg, Andreas Olofsson, Klaus Polzer, Daniel Rönnbäck, Erik Seo, Ethan Stone, Mark von Roy AUTHORS Sammy Carlson, Alexandra Engels, David Malacrida, Kyle Meyr, Klaus Polzer, Matilda Rapaport, Stephan Skrobar, Sam Smoothy, Mark von Roy

PUBLISHING HOUSE & EDITORIAL ADDRESS Distillery Concept & Creation GmbH Leopoldstrasse 9 6020 Innsbruck Austria Tel.: +43 (0)512-307 811 Fax: +43 (0)512-307 812 info@distillery.cc www.distillery.cc

IMAGE PROCESSING & DESKTOP PUBLISHING Klaus Polzer

Downdays Magazine is published in English, French & German.

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Downdays is also a website: www.downdays.eu

ADVERTS & MARKETING Simon Kegler | simon@distillery.cc

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The magazine and all contributions are subject to copyright. Duplication, publication or any other re-utilisation, as a whole or in part, is only allowed with prior written consent from the Publisher. The Publisher and the editorial team accept no responsibility for text or images submitted for appraisal.


DIALOGUE

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INADVERTENT REVOLUTIONARY

On his own ride through life, Lucas Stål-Madison – or LSM as everyone calls him – is unintentionally spearheading a whole new way to ski. Together with The Bunch, this wild yet smooth Swede is developing a whole new approach to creativity in skiing…

LUCAS STÅL-MADISON

Interview: David MALACRIDA

filmer Jonny Durst wouldn’t let us drive so we had a driver too. That lazy urban lifestyle, haha.

After winning Superunknown two years ago, this full segment with Level 1 must be a confirmation that you are doing it right? I’ve always been a fan of Level 1, Long Story Short is one of my favorite movies. Last year was already something really huge. This year was a different approach. I tried not to plan and just let it happen. I tried to hold on to that the whole sea-

DRINK OF CHOICE: Water or Carrot Juice FAVOURITE ARTIST: Pink Floyd

son and just followed the snow and a hunch, if you will. This season I’m trying to do some weird video projects, and take some cool photos for the first time. I want to work with a photographer that has a similar weird mind-game about photos as I have about skiing. My ski style is very video-oriented but I think it’s possible to capture it on photos somehow! But all in all not very planned. That’s the excitement, the adventure!

After watching Finess it seems like that’s the general philosophy

ETHAN STONE

With full segments in two solid movies this year, I guess your season was a success. What did you get up to? Yes, I was filming from early November to the end of May; it’s the longest season I have ever had. I filmed with The Bunch and Level 1 as well as for a couple of edits with The Bunch. I did three trips with Level 1 and they turned out to be real mellow this year, like the one in Minnesota with Magnus Granèr. We stayed at Austin Torvinen’s house, got cinnamon rolls for breakfast and the new Level 1

HOME MOUNTAIN: Streets of Stockholm SPONSORS: Atomic, Tomahawk

MT HOOD, OREGON

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BORN: 23rd of July 1992 in Stuvsta, Stockholm HOME: His car in Sweden


The backcountry would be a totally new experience I guess? It will be a learning season for me. I grew up in Stockholm, without any mountains nearby, so I haven’t had much time in the backcountry. I want to explore a little more; be with nature in the mountains instead of the crowded streets. Always trying new things seems to be your take on freeskiing. Many would say that is the right way… I think people really like the idea of new things, to see and try new things. I’m not saying going big or putting another flip or spin on your rotation is not the right way. In fact I don’t think there is a right and wrong way at all. If anything, people should do what they want to do. If you love skiing, competitions can make it possible for you to ski a lot, so it’s not a bad thing to do. I just think it’s way more fun to go on your own adventure and film. It’s what makes a personal journey,

Where do you find inspiration besides skiing? ‘Cause some of the shit you do is pretty out there… I don’t find inspiration in one particular place. It changes a lot; what mood I’m in, what I’m into at that time. It can be someone who has developed a skill in something. It really can be anything; it depends on the state of mind I’m in when I see it. If I’m trying to figure out a transition between two songs in an edit, I might be at a concert and hear a transition that is weird and cool and then try to recreate that. But most of all my trick inspiration comes from actually shredding. Just not thinking too much about any tricks, having mad impulsive sessions that will lead to some random trick that just happened ‘cause I came in a little wrong towards a feature. Then, maybe I start building on that trick and something new comes out of it.

How do you find the motivation to try a rail again after you’ve had a heavy crash? The motivation has to be there to hit the rail. Crashing can get you bummed but also hyped if you were close to getting a trick. A lot goes into this calculation of motivation. How fun the trick is, how scary, how hard the impact is, how cool the shot will look; all those variables and many more. Sometimes a fall can wake you up a little bit, sometimes you’re like, “I’m over this stupid rail, I’m just gonna go get some grub and watch a movie, go party or whatever.”

What process happens in your brain when you arrive at a new spot, how do you find new possibilities there? Usually, not much of a process happens in my brain before I get to a spot. This year I really tried to come to every spot with a blank mind, with no expectation for tricks; just choose a spot, start to ski it or start building it. Try it out for a little bit, maybe rebuild a little bit. Try it again. Try something else. Talk with cameraman about angles. Try another trick. Sometimes I won’t know if it even looks

What led you to this life of skiing in the first place? When I was a kid I only got to ski during Christmas holidays. I didn’t really ski a lot. When I was around 12 I started to like skiing a lot so I wanted to get better. I didn’t even know you could ski in Stockholm. When I looked for a ski school I found one 15 minutes from my house. Turns out, there are a couple of small ski hills around Stockholm. I went to ski school and raced for two years. This dude on the race team was sliding rails and throwing 7s – I was way more hyped on that than racing. I became obsessed with ski movies and jumping on the trampoline. I stopped racing and soccer to ski a lot instead. Around the time I watched Long Story Short I started to get better at freeskiing. At this time I would do mad tricks: dub Lincolns,

17 DIALOGUE

like, nah. Go grab a coffee, a shovel, put on a podcast, and help a brother out.

LUCAS STÅL-MADISON

Even though you don’t really plan, do you have any personal ideas you want make happen? I really dig trying new things. When I did my season edit back in 2011 it was all back-to-back switch 1080s. The year after I made the Superunknown edit with all the weird stuff, then I went on to do a full street segment. Last season it was more about lines and this season I want to head towards the backcountry. My main thing with skiing is to always keep it fun. For that to work I have to do different things. It drives me to not stay comfortable doing the same tricks or skiing in the same type of environment.

it’s also way more team work than competing.

We did school, parties, girls, skiing, trips, everything together. And we were really shitty skiers when we started but everyone got really good super fast. Since we got so far on our own, we figured in our teenage minds that we could keep that lifestyle going and take over the game. good when I’m watching a shot on the camera. It’s usually weeks or months later that I decide if I’ll use the shot or not. I’m surprisingly bad at knowing if it looks good after watching it on the camera. I found myself not caring how the shot came out at first and instead going for another trick right away or going to build something else in the area. With urban features it’s usually about speed, avoiding traffic, cooperation with the other riders and all that. All the homies might also want to get a shot that day, so I might arrive at a spot, look at it and be

kangaroo flips, back-to-back cork 9s and that kind of shit. I did one year at an economics high school in Stockholm but I hated it. That next year was the first year of a new ski academy in Kiruna in the very north. Moving there was the best choice, otherwise I’d be skiing a week or two per year. In Kiruna I met Magnus, Pär, Jens and everyone.

Is that when The Bunch started? Yes, man! We did school, parties, girls, skiing, trips, everything together. And we were really shitty skiers when we started

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of The Bunch. What are The Bunch doing this season? The whole crew is changing everything for our third movie and we’re just going to push our minds and bodies to either land on the moon or in a ditch, haha! For the first time we got a full-time filmer, Liam McKinley, who flew straight from Rochester, VT to Kiruna in the Arctic Circle and is now a huge part of our new project. Our previous movies were entirely filmed by the riders. This is our first movie project with sponsors. When we started making Far Out we only knew that we were going to make a movie, everyone ended up editing their own segment. Last season we planned a little bit more so everyone still edited their own segment but Jens Nilsson put everything together. Big ups to him!


there but everyone got really good super fast. Since we got so far on our own, we figured in our teenage minds that we could keep that lifestyle going and take over the game. I mean Pär, for example, was mad shitty in the first year. Haha And his segment from Finess is one of the best segments of the year.

And you get judged on your style and performance from teachers, haha. I guess school is like competing in a way, if I find a school where I can study something the way I study skiing while making segments, I would go there for sure! We’ll have to wait and see about that!

Do you have dreams other than those involving skiing? Yeah, sure I want to do other stuff than skiing. But right now I’m trying just to live this and learn from the experience!

RESULTS & AWARDS 2010: 1st The North Face Ski Challenge Val-Thorens 2012: Transition Awards “Rail Ripper of the Year” 2013: Transition Awards “Street Skier of the Year” 2013: iF3 Awards “Rookie of the Year” 2014: iF3 Awards “Best Street Segment Nomination”

ETHAN STONE (ACTION)

SEGMENTS 2013: “Far Out” – The Bunch 2013: “Partly Cloudy” – Level 1 2014: “Less” – Level 1 2014: “Finess” – The Bunch

MT HOOD, OREGON

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/

So now you’ve finished school, what are your plans? I’ve finished school but haven’t started University yet. I can’t decide what to

study and every time I look at different schools and classes I get invited to go skiing somewhere so I just do that instead... Maybe not the smartest move but there is something special about life when you are not trying to accomplish a certain thing, just kinda holding on for the ride. When I film for segments I never know how they are gonna end up or what tricks I will be doing or what places I’ll be going. A segment takes just as long to make as a year in school, but in school you have all the steps towards making the class or getting the grade already laid out for you.

ANDREAS OLOFSSON (PORTRAIT)

LUCAS STÅL-MADISON

DIALOGUE

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FRESHIES

20

Suzuki Nine Knights 2015 Sneak Peek

Late one evening in December we snuck into the Nine Knights offi ce and found sketches of the 2015 feature. Our minds successfully blown, we decided to press more information out of Nico Zacek, the brain behind the Suzuki Nine Knights. After a number of Aperol spritzers and reluctant Jägermeister shots, Nico fi nally let slip what exactly will be built on the slopes of Mottolino in Livigno.

After the insanity of last year’s event, it sounds as if the 2015 Suzuki Nine Knights will be even more ridiculous. The feature jump has a total of seven take-off s, with multiple trannies, transfers and reverse transitions! Two skate miniramps with a spine transfer are also somehow integrated in the feature. Following the unreal jump feature, Nico plans to build the biggest hip ever, with the goal of potentially setting world record airs. A plethora of rails, jibs and a step-up round off the 2015 Suzuki Nine Knights feature. With a public night shooting on the 8th of April and the Big Air contest on the 10 th of April, it will be worth heading to Livigno to watch the action in person. For more information and updates head to www.nineknights.com.

FEBRUARY

Freeride World Tour Livestream After the first two stops of the Freeride World Tour in Chamonix and Fieberbrunn, the tour enters into the last stretch. With two new venues; Vallnord Arcalis in Andorra and Haines, Alaska; not to mention the 20th anniversary of the world renowned Verbier Xtreme, the final three stops will undoubtedly be nail biters. Vallnord Arcalis – an established FWQ venue – will put the riders’ trickery to the test. Lots of rocks and lips to jump off make it a very playful and creative venue. Alaska, the ultimate proving

past contests are anything to go by, Verbier will be pure nerve-racking edge-ofyour-seat material. For more info on the FWT head to www.freerideworldtour.com and for livestreams of all the action, look no further than www.downdays.eu! grounds for any serious big mountain skier, will be an insane spectacle. Expect pedal to the metal, no holds barred skiing as the best skiers tackle the best faces on the planet. Then there is the infamous Bec des Rosses; the final showdown where the FWT champion is crowned. If

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Limited Edition Downdays Goods! They have finally arrived! The limited edition Downdays Goods are as radical as they are awesome. The Downdays T-Shirt, made from high quality prewashed silky smooth cotton, features a handy chest pocket perfect for ski pass, a can of beer or all sorts of herbs. The custom Downdays Buff facemask will instantly transform you into a radical ninja. Any real fan of Downdays should probably get their hands on the limited edition Downdays Goods. And by limited edition, we mean that we only made 100 of each! The T-Shirt is only 30 € in-

cluding European postage, the facemask is only 15 € including European postage. Both together are only 40 €! And all packages include most excellent stickers! Get your Downdays Goods at www.downdays.eu/goods!


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Skiing: Cody TOWNSEND Location: Tordrillo Mountains, AK Photography: Blake JORGENSON


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24 Skiing: Nicky KEEFER Location: Absolutpark Flachauwinkl Photography: Klaus POLZER


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Skiing: Cedric PUGIN Location: La Moendaz Photography: Jeremy BERNARD


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Skiers: Andrea PLATT & Tim LLOYD Location: Click on the Mountain, Courmayeur Mont Blanc Photography: Alessandro BELLUSCIO

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Skiing: Nick McNUTT Location: Jackson, WY Photography: Adam CLARK


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Skiing: Piers SOLOMON Location: Mt Baker, WA Photography: Oskar ENANDER

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BRAINS

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The Mountain is Not a Frog Often, intelligent people have intelligent thoughts. Alas, these thoughts seldom find a path to the collective consciousness. Avalanche accidents are not only due to snowpack, terrain and weather factors: humans play the biggest role. When groups travel in avalanche terrain, listening to gut instincts and voicing concerns can often save the group from tragedy‌

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

THE HUMAN FACTOR

Text: Stephan SKROBAR


Experienced, well-trained and competent skiers have died on their home mountain. This is no cliché; this is a fact. Often untypical sources of danger, for example unusual wind directions that poison normally safe faces, are ignored simply because one has skied the face so many times safely that one could ski it blind. The thought that the face could move does not even cross one’s mind, but it still can – as it once did for me. This factor can be doubly dangerous, as it often comes into play when one is cruising alone and stays on the familiar path. Familiarity of a zone does not equal safety.

Acceptance: “If they think that this face is good to go, it must be so…” When travelling in a group, one tends to accept the decisions of the group. Although everyone may hold their doubts, when in a group individuals are less likely to voice concern to avoid ruining the vibe, or to be the only one to wimp out. This factor typically becomes less influential with age and experience. Nevertheless, if you have a hunch that something is amiss, always let that thought be heard and don’t let social pressure make a decision for you on the mountain.

JEREMY BERNARD

Commitment: “We have gone this far, why turn back now?” A number of unfortunate circumstances come into play here. Freeriding involves not only money, but also dedication and time. It is not always easy to have a day off work when the conditions are epic. When that day finally comes, it is immensely hard to turn around just before the summit, or decide not to drop into that beautiful couloir just because there is a little avalanche danger. Particularly after committing to hiking or touring to get that perfect run, it seems like a crying shame to turn around due to unstable snow before collecting the rewards. Often, people who should know better decide to take the risk regardless. If it goes well, you are a brave soul. If it goes badly, you are a dead soul. A fitting Austrian saying roughly translates to: “The mountain is not a frog, it won’t run away from you.” Read the signs, and always be prepared to turn around and come back another day.

BRAINS

This should not really come into play during guided freeride tours, where one rightly pays to hand a large portion of the responsibility to a trained expert so they can enjoy perfect powder without worry. That is, after all, the job of Freeride Centres and trained guides. In almost all small groups a leader type comes to the fore; perhaps the most vocal, or the one that did an avalanche course two years ago, or the local guy or simply the guy with all the newest gear. In sketchy situations that require good decisions, relying on one perceived “expert” can put the whole group in danger. It is important to discuss beforehand who – if anyone at all – has what level of competence, experience and knowledge. Where possible, discuss decisions within the group and don’t rely solely on a presumed expert.

Social Proof: “There are tracks there, it must be safe!” A classic mistake that most should already be aware of. Firstly, just because a face has been skied before you, does not mean it wont slide when you ski down it. Secondly, if you do not know where the tracks lead it is not wise to follow them under the assumption that there is a safe exit. Perhaps they are of a Freeride World Tour skier and lead to a compulsory high-speed 50-foot cliff. Or they are from a naïve punter, who is now stuck above multiple death traps awaiting the most expensive taxi pick-up of his life: the mountain safety helicopter. While this is somewhat common knowledge, every season people make this same mistake. Say it with me: fresh tracks are not an indicator for the safety of a face.

THE HUMAN FACTOR

Familiarity: “I know this zone and it has never slid…”

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Expert Infallibility: “This guy knows what he is doing…”

Scarcity: “Let’s get first tracks down this, before anyone else…” Everyone knows that “powder fever” that takes hold after a long awaited storm, where everyone wants to get the first line down their favourite slope. The build up of expectation, the time pressure, the competition with others and the potential rewards can lead to individuals throwing caution into the wind, just to be the first to slash down that epic run. Simply being aware that you might be afflicted with “powder fever” is a good start. Try to take a step back and assess the situation before charging down that untracked face. As mentioned earlier, many if not all, of these points (in this definitely expandable list) are obvious once you think of them. However, the mind gets blinded towards such things when epic powder faces fill your vision. Many things influence your decisions and it pays to be aware of them, since your decisions can be the difference between life and death. Good freeskiers and ski alpinists develop gut instincts through their awareness of these factors. It is important to listen to your gut instincts sometimes and never be afraid to make your feelings heard when travelling in a group. 1

“Evidence of heuristic traps in recreational avalanche accidents” (Ian McCammon)

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

The human factor in avalanche incidents and dangerous mountain situations is often overlooked. Particularly, the subjective decisions that fail to acknowledge the objective circumstances at hand can lead to tragic consequences. Through extensive investigation, avalanche researcher Ian McCammon identified five common heuristic traps1 – or experience based “rule of thumb” decisions – that cause mountain accidents. Many freeriders will have encountered these before, perhaps without even knowing them. These are as important to keep in mind when travelling in avalanche terrain as wearing all relevant safety equipment, so let’s review and find out how your brain can sometimes make you blind.


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Charging Armor No matter where you’re bound to this winter, whether it’s going to dump or just drizzle, with this combo you’ve got your armor sorted for a perfect day in the backcountry.

ANON | RAIDER Skateboard Inspired Design Dampening Endura-Shell ABS construction Removable Earpads Passive Ventilation System Colour: High Cascade

PEAK PERFORMANCE | HELI GRAVITY JACKET

FEBRUARY

3-Layer Gore-Tex Shell Waterproofing: 28,000 mm AquaGuard Zipper Re-inforced Sleeves

ANON | RELAPSE Wall-to-Wall Vision Lightweight Thermoplastic Polyurethane Frame Full Perimeter Channel Venting Bonus Bad Weather Lens Colour: Hemp

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

VÖLKL | MANTRA Dimensions: 132-100-118 mm Lengths: 170/177/184/191 cm Full Rocker Construction New directional Taper Titanium Construction for maximum Power Transmission

PEAK PERFORMANCE | HELI GRAVITY PANTS 3-Layer Gore-Tex Shell Waterproofing: 28,000 mm Regular Fit Zipper Vents Re-inforced Leg Cuffs

BLACK DIAMOND | FAKTOR MX 130 Flex 130 Fore/Aft Stiffness 40° Resistance-free Walk Mode Integrated heel shock absorber Direct Connect Alpine and AT Sole


SKI & SNB


FEBRUARY

ESSENTIALS

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Gore C-KNIT Backer Technology

Textile innovations from Gore-Tex have aided winter sports across the board; hardly a year passes without them enriching the market with developments in functional materials. While the main focus of Gore has always been on the water and wind proofing as well as great breathability of garments, the company has recently taken its developments a step further to concentrate on comfort and weight of their products. The newest Gore development of particular interest to skiers is Gore-Tex with C-KNIT Backer Technology. The backer construction, made of extremely fine nylon circular knit fabric, com-

bines the softness of a 2-layer jacket with the technical function of a 3-layer jacket, markedly increasing the overall comfort of the material. What does this mean for us skiers? Simply put: no more stiff and heavy freeride apparel. Soft and stretchy technical top layers thanks to C-KNIT are the future. Not only is Gore-Tex with C-KNIT extra soft, the material is lighter and more breathable than its predecessors. The backer, which feels as smooth as silk, slides easily over every base layer – the times of awkwardly getting in and out of stiff touring clothes are over.

The new Gore C-KNIT technology has been gladly embraced by many freeride brands and the products utilizing C-KNIT will be available in the autumn of 2015. Nico Zacek and Gore product developer Christian Mayer already went out to test the new material this season. To find their full review of this revolutionary technology head over to www.downdays.eu!

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

Douchebags

When you travel as much as Jon Olsson and find yourself charming airport personnel on every second trip purely to convince them to take your far too heavy and big bags on with no extra charge, perhaps it’s time to start your own bag company. That’s exactly what Jon did and, together with like-minded engineers Truls Brataas und Erling Magnus Solheim, brought the Douchebags brand to life.

After some intensive market research the Scandinavians came to the conclusion that five facets of a bag are important for the traveling skier: a solid carrying system, sturdiness, minimum weight, easy storage and adjustability. With these aspects in mind, Douchebags developed a simple but awesome product line: The flagship, the Douchebag is easily the lightest and most versatile ski bag ever. Even with wheels, it only

weights 4kg, can be rolled into a tiny package when not in use and can be adjusted to every ski length. Combined with the Hugger backpack, one can utilize the practical Hook-Up system and literally hook the ski bag onto your backpack. These bags are truly made to streamline travel. For a complete overview of the impressive collection of bags, head over to douchebags.com.


THE FOUR COLOURS OF CANDIDE

1.0

FREESTYLE 120/90/120

2.0

3.0

ALL-MTN

FREERIDE

132 /102 /132

1 4 2 / 11 2 / 1 3 2

4.0

BACKCOUNTRY 150/122 /140

W W W.FAC T ION S K IS .C OM # F o rT h e F e w


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AARON SCHWARTZ

CREATIVE 40


41 CREATIVE

Aaron Schwartz

WAKE UP!

IT’S BLUEBIRD over ten hours using

AARON SCHWARTZ

created this illustration

fineliners,

and digital

colours.

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pencils,


42

Interview: David MALACRIDA

You had a busy season filming with JE Films, PVS, Les Crapules and Faction. How do you organize the season? I realized that filming skiing is a matter of timing. If you are at the right place at the right moment, you win. It is very hard to plan trips, there are too many factors that you can’t control: weather, people, etc. I didn’t really organize the season; I went where it took me. I wasted too much time that way, so for this season I will plan a little more.

BORN: 18th of December 1994 in Le Gleyzin, France HOME: Grenoble, France

Why haven’t you really competed since slaying it at King of Style a few years ago? The KOS was one of the best experiences ever: my first city big air and first appearance on national news. It was like my glory weekend! I was never that much into contests, I was only invited to the King of Style through a video contest. For a while I tried to train seriously. But spending five months working on four tricks to get a run ready is not my thing. I saw some of my competing friends disgusted by the contest spirit. I moved ever further from that scene and I don’t miss anything. Skiing has many directions. Which is yours? Travelling and shooting. I love the uncertainties of those trips; spending hours in the car, discovering new mountains, being a tourist and tasting local beer.

What pushes you to ski? Passion is the main thing that pushes me. I love driving around looking for spots, shaping features, riding them, falling and trying again; whether I succeed or not. Even if it rarely works the way I want, even if we come home without any shots, I still want to go back the next day to do it better. What projects do you have for this season and further in the future? I’ll keep on shooting with PVS and try to have a solid part with more backcountry. I re-signed with Faction for a 100% video/photo contract, so I will shoot for their webisodes which is gonna be sick. I will also film more seriously with Julien Eustache. Eventually, I want to do my own video project, but there is still a lot to plan. Next autumn you will find out how that worked out!

HOME MOUNTAIN: Les 7 Laux SUMMER JOB: at the National Forestry

HOBBIES: Music, Mountains, Surfing SPONSORS: Faction, HO5 Park, Full Tilt,

Office

Capsus Film

DAVID MALACRIDA

Can you tell us how you first established yourself in the French freeski scene? Everything started when I made it onto the Coreupt Young Gun Team six years ago. I started competing and shooting with PVS. The guys from HO5 pushed me to take part in lots of shoots and events and helped me find new sponsors. It kinda snowballed from there…

LA CLUSAZ

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TOM GRANIER

TALENT

Tom Granier – The Filming Frenchie


P ROTES T. e u


44 TALENT

Fraser McDougall – The Charging Kiwi Interview: Mark VON ROY the mountain threw me a punch, sending me to the hospital with a broken nose, shattered jaw, broken teeth and a broken cheekbone. It was pretty hectic: hero to zero in an instant. I was in surgery before they even confirmed my insurance details. It was a long recovery and a big realisation that one slip up in the mountains can send you home for good. It has

Recently you started shooting with Legs of Steel, where did you shoot and what was it like filming in the big leagues? It’s been epic shredding with Bene Mayr and Paddy Graham. They are guys I look up to and it was rad to ski with them. The shoots in Japan and New Zealand were pretty loose.

brunn on the way; I asked the organisers if I could compete, they laughed and literally turned their back on me. I came to Engadin with something to prove and put down a good run. At the bottom, shaken from a few wild cliff drops, I was stoked but had no idea I was in top spot. Luckily they didn’t run the heli final and I kept 1st place. I told my parents and they didn’t believe me until they saw it on the national news.

definitely made me respect the mountains a lot more. Since then I’ve got an engineering degree, been travelling and shooting in some cool places.

You also pilot glide planes, what draws you to flying? There is nothing like flying, it’s an awesome experience. Gliding, you have to use your head a lot. It’s about reading the weather, ignoring the things you can’t control and always thinking three steps ahead.

BORN: 18th of August 1990 in Christchurch, New Zealand HOME: Wanaka, New Zealand

HOME MOUNTAIN: Treble Cone HOBBIES: Rock Climbing, Gliding, and

Sailing

DREAM JOB: Professional Skier and Part-time Stock Market Trader SPONSORS: Völkl, Marker, The North

PALLY LEARMOND

You’ve slipped off the international radar since then, how come and what’ve you been up to? At the end of my trip in 2009, while shooting with Yves Garneau in Verbier,

Even above exposure it looks like you’re strolling the beach, how did you develop such a relaxed style? Skiing with Jossi Wells at race training was a big help; we were the ones jumping cliffs and spinning 360s while the others were slipping gates. It really helped develop a good base for my skiing. As for the strolling along exposed zones, I think climbing really helps you get a good head for that kind of stuff.

Face, POC, Mons Royale, Dalbello, Treble Cone

HOKKAIDO

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FRASER MCDOUGALL

So in 2009 you won the Engadin Snow Big Mountain Competition at 18 years old, how in the world did that happen? It was my first Euro experience, a wild story. A week before we were partying at ISPO in Munich. The Völkl team manager got me an invite to the comp. We stopped off at another comp in Fieber-


SKI & SNB

Level Gloves Regular black C60 | M 62 | Y 72 | K 100 black C50 | M 0| Y 100| K 0


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HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

FEATURE 46


MAJESTIC MOUNT HOOD


SAMMY CARLSON

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HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

FEATURE 48


Photos: Darcy BACHA

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SAMMY CARLSON (BOTTOM)

|

DANE TUDOR (TOP)

HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

Text: Sammy CARLSON

49 FEATURE

ACCORDING TO LEGEND, MOUNT HOOD — THE PROMINENT PACIFIC NORTHWEST PEAK — MARKS THE PLACE WHERE THE WARRIOR WY’EAST WAS STRUCK DOWN BY HIS FATHER AFTER RAVAGING THE LAND, BATTLING FOR THE HEART OF A WOMAN. CLAIMING THE LIVES OF OVER 130 PEOPLE, OREGON’S HOOD HAS PLAYED HOST TO MANY DRAMATIC EVENTS AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN ON LIGHTLY. HOWEVER, WHEN APPROACHED IN THE RIGHT MANNER, IT CAN BE BOTH A PLAYGROUND AND A TEACHER.


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DANE TUDOR

HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

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SAMMY CARLSON (BOTTOM)

|

SAMMY CARLSON (TOP)

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HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

FEATURE 52


Mount Hood is an active volcano. The last eruptive period was around 200 years ago and the lava flows helped create its unique terrain. I first began properly exploring it while filming for On Top of the Hood. That was when I started developing a much greater understanding and deeper respect of Mount Hood. The canyons allow for insane step-ups and on most of the in-runs we reach speeds up to 100 km/h.

The mountain is very much alive. Any skier that wants to explore outside the ski area boundaries should have undergone the proper training and snow safety before doing so. Mountains can be very dangerous if approached in the wrong way. People need to understand the amount of energy that goes into safety out there. No one just goes out there and starts charging, it takes time. First, you have to develop an understanding and respect of natural terrain ’cause the mountain will put you in your place quick. It’s no joke.

53 FEATURE

In times like this, it’s all about really digging deep for motivation. I try to think about how lucky I am to be in these shoes and dig deeper. This time I make it to twenty steps. Psyched that I made it to twenty, I keep going and make it to thirty steps before stopping. I keep repeating this, head down just counting the steps, trying to add more steps before resting. With every step, I get closer to the truck that will lead me to a highly anticipated meal at Huckleberry’s; a tradition for us. It’s always funny walking into the restaurant at 2:00 am with all our gear on... We used to get the look like: “Yeah right buddy, you guys didn’t just get down...” But now people know.

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DANE TUDOR (BOTTOM)

|

SAMMY CARLSON (TOP)

HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

It’s 1:00 am; I am the last of seven people hiking off Mt. Hood. The spirits are high after an epic session, but at the end of five 14-hour days in ski boots I have used every ounce of energy… After long days, the final hike out from our jump zone is always the most taxing. I challenge myself to keep moving as I slip behind the rest of the crew. I aim for twenty steps in a row before the next rest; I only make it half way. I notice the crew pulling further and further away. Everyone will be waiting for me at the traverse, only 25 minutes away but it seems impossibly distant. I know I have to keep going and aim for twenty steps again, laughing at myself from failing the previous attempt.


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HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

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We’re always hiking off the mountain late, relying on our headlamps to see. The effort from everyone involved is so far above the norm. Most people don’t realize when they see these features; everything about it is manpower, there are no machines. We build the lips with shovels over multiple days. We hike for every hit, until we finally hike off the mountain at night.

Mount Hood is a national park with strict regulations as to where you can ride a snowmobile; these rules eliminate any chance of getting sleds or cats to help us out. That’s part of what makes these sessions so special, it’s a crew effort and can only happen with everyone coming together. Most of the best shots happen between 6:00pm and 9:30 pm: a long time after everyone has skied off the mountain. We’re out there doing our own thing miles away from anyone, relying on each other for motivation and safety.

There is nothing like the feeling I get when I return to Oregon after the season. When I’m home it gives me the chance to reflect on things, good and bad. In life things are always changing but the purest thing to me – that is always there – is skiing. Mount Hood is where it all started. Every time I come home, boom there it is waiting for me. I am humbled by the experiences I have had on that mountain over the last ten years. When I’m skiing, I just slip away from everything; it’s an escape from this chaotic world we live in.

I am truly blessed to have spent the majority of my life on this mountain and all the other mountains too. Growing up, I had no idea skiing would take me where it has. I ski for the feeling, but nowadays it’s way deeper than that. I’m out there representing for the whole sport, my homies, everyone who inspires me, the ones who started this sport. I think everyone should live their life the way they want to. There are so many pressures from society to be like this or that. Don’t listen to that, do what makes you happy. Don’t force anything. Do what you do ’cause you love it. That’s what the Mountain taught me.


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SAMMY CARLSON

HOOD SUPER SESSIONS

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FEATURE

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MIDDLE EAST EXPERIENCE the

RUEDI FLÜCK

A MYSTICAL AND ANCIENT LAND THAT FATHERED COUNTLESS INNOVATIONS IN AGRICULTURE, MEDICINE, ASTRONOMY AND FAR MORE; THE NOW CONFLICT-RIDDEN MIDDLE EAST HAS A TURBULENT HISTORY. NOT YOUR RUN OF THE MILL WINTER DESTINATION, NEVERTHELESS, THE INTRIGUING AREA HAS RECENTLY ATTRACTED A NUMBER OF ADVENTUROUS SKIERS, EAGER TO DISCOVER WHAT THE PLENTIFUL MOUNTAINS HAVE ON OFFER. WELCOMING PEOPLE, UNTRACKED POWDER AND REMARKABLE LANDSCAPES MAY WELL MAKE THE MIDDLE EAST A VIABLE SKI DESTINATION IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE…

IRAN

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SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

Text: Kyle MEYR


RUEDI FLÜCK

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AFGHANISTAN

SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

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FEATURE

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The eyes of potentially violent people watch these valleys. They watch the multicolor earth-tone villages, the deep green valleys and the white peaks of the mountains that guard them. Much like the mountains, they protect the villages; which creep up the mountainside, hugging each contour of the very earth they are made of along the way. The villages are home to hundreds of immensely hospitable, harmless and welcoming locals caught up in a long unfortunate history of conflict. The snow on the otherwise brown and dusty peaks is a welcome sight for a skier, promising a familiar feeling in this alien environment. Stretching fingers through trenches down toward the scarce but welcoming populations below, the snow is but one reason a die-hard skier would visit this wildly untamed ski destination. The other myriad of reasons constitute a sense of adventure unattainable elsewhere.

A Brief History Mesopotamia, including modern day Kurdistan, is the birthplace of the sedentary lifestyle – massive settlements in contrast to the previously common nomadic human existence. The ‘Cradle of Civilization’, Mesopotamia saw the foundation and growth of several stationary communities with populations in

excess of 10,000 people in the Neolithic era (approx. 7,000 BCE – the latter part of the Stone Age). This development of civilization is defined and was made possible by the birth of agriculture, the domestication of animals and the establishment of a political hierarchy. These three milestones in human history eliminated the need for a constantly mobile existence and made it possible for vast populations to become communally sufficient and sustainable. They established community councils, legal systems and held lively festivals to celebrate astronomical and agricultural cycles. The ancient Mesopotamians were a flourishing society, perhaps the most advanced in the world during that era. Now, the birthplace of social hierarchy and communal qualities that define our cultures today is being pulled at from every border; striking up an unwarranted amount of conflict throughout modern history. Attempts at regaining autonomy have brought the region to civil and international conflict over hundreds of years and have only recently been successful – after a cease-fire with Iraq in 1970. Subsequent wars involving Turkey, the U.S. and Iraq continued to plague the region, further threatening sovereignty and attempts at self-sustaining growth. Today, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant treads dangerously close to the region, begging the question: Will Kurdistan ever earn the sovereignty and respect it deserves? Now, after perhaps the longest civil history of successes, violence and border debates, Kurdistan has invested €74 million into building a new ski resort.

Skiing in the Middle East Kurdistan isn’t the only region in the Middle East attracting the attention of snow-seekers. The whole area is dissected by

MICHAEL BRECHBÜHLER

With weapons sashed across their backs, they soldiered on into the hills of Kurdistan, unpredictable territory in their line of work. Having played host to a century-long civil war, Western military intervention and the current ISIS threat, it is important they entered the region cautiously. Although they were there to reap the benefits of the land, this group of adventurers were not there to add to the torment, they were explorers; seekers of the unique and unusual. Their weapons were not projectile devices, but rather nifty transportation gadgets. They were skiing ambassadors to the Middle East.

KURDISTAN

SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

Their weapons were not projectile devices, but rather nifty transportation gadgets. They were skiing ambassadors to the Middle East.


A vastly unique experience, Fabian has now traveled to Iran twice – once in a camper van from Innsbruck, Austria –in search of the ultimate freeride experience. His is a successful but cautionary tale of the complications such a young ski destination presents. “I wouldn’t recommend it because it is a pain in the ass to get there if you don’t know the right people,” he warns about their experience skiing the 4,050m tall Oshtoran Kooh volcano in Iran. Lentsch is quick to correct himself to explain that skiing the mountains around Iran’s capital city Tehran is a deeply rewarding and far simpler experience.

IRAN

JONAS BLUM

But he was in search of a more challenging adventure full of complicated permits, designated guides and random security checks. “Sometimes when you fly back home, they check your cameras for any sensitive information,” he says. “You are not allowed to have porn or anything on your hard drives.” And after emphasizing the restrictions the permits entailed, Fabian admits, “It’s easier if you go under the radar. Just bring your skis and enter the country.”

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This very notion is also the inspiration for the We Ride in Iran initiative. After progressively exploring further east on skis from their home in Switzerland for a radio show, Arnaud Cottet and Benoît Goncerut ended up falling in love with Iran and decided that would be where their focus would lie. Seeing the potential in the ski scene but the dire lack of infrastructure, the two committed to starting We Ride in Iran, “to develop snowboarding and skiing freestyle and freeride in the region.” They set out with three goals: to build decent snow parks, coach the Iranian freeski and snowboard scene and establish fair and reputable judging practices. The lack of the former was a severe hindrance, “they learned how to make jumps on the side of the slope with dangerous landings,” explains Arnaud. “They don’t care! They go really fast over roads and do huge flips to flat. They are crazy!” Thus, it only made sense to set out to build a decent slopestyle experience for those they saw shared the same passion for airtime that they themselves started feeling just 15 years ago in Europe. This paired with their expert coaching and International Ski Federation level judging experience brought a new level of legitimacy to an unlikely freestyle community. “We are the Swiss connection who give them credibility,” explains Arnaud. “Before, they couldn’t organize, they always fought. Now we have a few guys who bring a bit more neutrality. If we say, ‘This guy did a better trick’, they will agree.”

SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

One of such initiatives is film-based. A host of production crews have taken on the challenge of skiing in the Middle East in hopes to capture the unique adventure on film, telling a story as compelling as the environment itself. A notable experience is that of Fabian Lentsch and his friends who recently travelled to Iran and Afghanistan with Austrian Whiteroom Productions.

This reigning conservatism gives the region an unwelcoming image, but Fabian Lentsch still insists that, “once you are there, you will meet the nicest people. Everyone is really friendly and the crime rate is low.” This is a sentiment that is widely shared by those who have been fortunate and adventurous enough to make the trip to ski in the Middle East. It is the actions of few that have tainted the western view of a culture that is inherently warm-hearted, hospitable and kind.

Iran isn’t the only country in the region to see the introduction of organized freeski competitions. The Afghan Ski Challenge, founded in 2011, is a ski touring race over five kilometers of high-altitude and demanding terrain in the Bamyan region. Amidst current civil war, Afghanistan could be one of the most intimidating countries to go ski touring in, but the

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

many towering mountain ranges; the Hindu Kush on the eastern border of Afghanistan that reaches up to 7,700 m, the Elburz Mountains in the North of Iran that reach more than 5,600 m above the Caspian Sea to the North and the 1,500 km long Zagros Mountain Range that separates Iran and Iraq. Not to mention the looming Tien Shan of Kyrgyzstan and the Taurus Mountain Range that extends out of the South Eastern end of Turkey into Iran and Iraq. The area is seriously mountainous, and holds an immense amount of potential for those brave enough to explore them. Not only have new and old resorts seen recent success in Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and Afghanistan, smaller initiatives – beyond the ski lifts – have recently been started to make the unlikely region a more attractive ski destination.


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SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

FEATURE 60


AFGHANISTAN

RUEDI FLÜCK


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SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

If you close your eyes, it almost feels like home… The snow is similar to that of the Alps with the addition of a slightly higher altitude that brings rather consistent powdery snow. With eyes open, it is a whole new world of terrain. Far above the tree line, the skiable terrain typical of the Middle East is vast and unobstructed. Seas of mountains in seemingly limitless quantity immerse you in a particularly lengthy wintery experience, the season typically lasting from November to May. Resorts closer to Tehran are packed with tourists, but the open terrain offers many opportunities to those looking for something untouched. The backcountry awaits uncontested and just off the slopes are hundreds of fun little features to play around on. The mountains are generally not as steep as one would expect in Europe, so for those looking for a more extreme experience rather than a cultural one it might be worth your while to stay home. Things are generally cheaper in the East, another plus. As an example, daily lift passes at Dizin – the most popular resort in Iran – are about 15 Euros a day. With about 1000 m of vertical skiable terrain, where the lifts go up to 3,600 m, that’s quite a bargain.You can expect accommodation to be relatively

Why Ski Here? The Middle East offers so much that Europe cannot, including a sense of adventure reminiscent of many western mountains before the growth of widely popular and profitable large-scale infrastructure. These destinations offer a rustic and fulfilling experience on skis that demands a large amount of self-reliance, planning and competence just to reach, let alone ski. A challenge that offers the reward of not only fantastic skiing, but also the opportunity to help bridge the gap between our cultures: to be a part of the connection between the East and the West. Skiers have become ambassadors to the region bringing more than just a sport. The presence of Western skiers brings immediate joy to those locals who bear witness to this simple pleasure we often take for granted and lasting memories to those who get to try it for the first time. Skiing is as physically gratifying as it is a distraction from the complexity of the real world, a hobby as much as a sport. Such a simple joy benefits a population troubled by conflict and brightens the day of people plagued with resulting unstable economies and comparatively lesser living conditions. Perhaps our introducing and developing the sport in these conflict regions isn’t directly solving problems, but it brings smiles that on a personal level can make life just a bit easier. While the effect may be small, it is still a positive one and may offset the negative effect other westerners have had on the region, even if just by a small amount.

JONAS BLUM

The Experience

cheap as well, wherever you go. Basically, it is a deeply rewarding, adventurous – not to mention cultural experience – for a fraction of the price of a trip within Europe.

IRAN

Bamyan region has been a popular destination after the end of local violent conflict over a decade ago. Afghanistan has since created sustainable efforts to invite tourism. Skiing may not be one of these efforts, but the renowned hospitality of the Bamyan region has welcomed the Afghan Ski Challenge for three consecutive years. It is growing quickly as a ski destination and will definitely be one to watch out for in years to come.

FABIAN LENTSCH

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The Middle East is beautiful, tempting and fantastic, but still risky. Do not let this discourage the adventure, but be sure to set off with a detailed and safe plan.

Skiing is an opportunity that could affect the Middle East for the better. It is a new chapter in a rich history that dates back to the beginnings of civilization, one that has seen an immense amount of unjust conflict with horrible effects on the region’s economic and cultural sustainability. Perhaps it is slightly optimistic to suggest that skiing might play a role in smoothing out the future of these conflict zones, but that little bit of optimism could add the weight to edge us over a tipping point… A chairlift runs to the summit of a snow-capped mountain that watches over the villages below. Atop stands a proud Kurd with skis on his feet and an unobstructed 360-degree view of the future. While the troubles of the area may not be completely solved, the fresh snow and the wind that rushes past as he descends are a welcome and well-deserved respite from unfortunate realities. This simple fleeting moment of joy is

something we can all relate to: therapy that soothes the mind. Perhaps military intervention is not the best resource that the Western world can lend the East. Perhaps, just maybe, Skiing – and other unlikely activities that we so often take for granted – if shared in the right way, can be the catalyst that helps to enkindle harmony to this mystical land…

Take Note! The adventure may be tempting, but a trip to ski these currently active conflict regions is not something to be taken lightly. If you are looking to make a ski trip to the Middle East, be smart about it and do your research. Know the area and make connections with locals to ensure you are not alone. Consider seeking out travel agencies that offer guided trips tailored to your ability and expectations, or contact people who have made the trip before. The Middle East is beautiful, tempting and fantastic, but still risky. Do not let this discourage the adventure, but be sure to set off with a detailed and safe plan.

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FILIP NILSSON

IRAN

ADRIAN NORDENBORG

But maybe there is more to it? Skiing can also be an investment in these areas. In much the same way that small resorts have been born and flourished into worldwide popular tourist destinations here in Europe, skiing can bring development and economic growth to regions such as Kurdistan. As a sustainable source of income, new ski resorts can birth domestic and international tourism opportunities, capitalizing on the very enchantment that brings Westerners across the world to ski the white-capped mountains guarding the villages below. The fantastic snow and terrain are just waiting to be utilized, to provide much needed jobs to the region. It is a concept that has worked closer to Tehran in the Alborz mountain range where resorts like Dizin – and 15 others in Iran – are attracting vast amounts of international and domestic tourists each year.

SKIING THE MIDDLE EAST

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TOBI REINDL, THOMAS HLAWITSCHKA, PADDY GRAHAM & BENE MAYR (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT)

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LEGS OF STEEL

FEATURE 64

LOS: ALONG FOR THE RIDE


Photos: Pally LEARMOND

OF STEEL AND WITHIN TWO YEARS LOS WAS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE INTERNATIONAL FREESKI SCENE. THE CREW EXPANDED, THEY GREW FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH JUST WINGING IT AND PICKING UP AWARDS ALONG THE WAY; NEVER REALLY KNOWING HOW THEY DID IT. THEY WERE SIMPLY ALONG FOR THE RIDE…

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LEGS OF STEEL

Interview: Mark VON ROY

65 FEATURE

SIX YEARS AGO THREE GERMANS AND A BRIT MOVED INTO A HOUSE IN INNSBRUCK AUSTRIA WITH GRAND PLANS TO FILM A SKI MOVIE TOGETHER. TOBI REINDL, THOMAS HLAWITSCHKA, BENE MAYR AND PADDY GRAHAM HAD NO REAL CLUE HOW TO ACTUALLY MAKE A SKI MOVIE, BUT MAKE ONE THEY DID. THEY STARTED LEGS


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TOBI :

PADDY: THOMAS:

BENE : TOBI:

Stoked to have you all in the Downdays office again, it’s been a while. Let’s jump right into the first question: Why? Why did Legs of Steel happen and why that name? Whenever we get asked that question, we can’t really come up with a good answer. I guess we were all on the Völkl team together, so we hung out at events together but kinda wanted to hang and ski together more outside of events. At some point we decided to all move into a house in Innsbruck. I wasn’t even asked to move in, I was told. At the same time we came up with the idea of doing a film project together. Somewhere in between somebody called us Legs of Steel, I don’t exactly know why or how that happened. It was probably Nico [Zacek]. Yeah, it could have been Nico an-

nouncing at one of the events we were riding at, but nobody knows and we don’t want to give Nico too much credit. Haha. It just happened. We never had a game plan for our first movie project. We weren’t entirely happy with the film projects we were involved in; we just wanted to do our own thing and to ski together.

TOBI:

PADDY:

So when was LOS actually get founded? Around 2007 we all started hanging out together more. We went on a trip to the USA and partied in Vegas for four days. Then LOS really began in 2008 when we moved into the Innsbruck house together. And we’ve been living there, in a nice family district, ever since. Why Innsbruck? ‘Cause Tobi and Thomas were studying there.

TOBI:

PADDY:

One of the things that really set you guys apart from other production crews was the whole Rock ‘n’ Roll attitude. Did you make a conscious effort to be different? Yes and no. We were all into rock music. And when we started making movies, skiing was really at the height of the whole gangster rap and reggae phase. It was almost logical to start something completely opposite, because to be honest, the scene was a little bit boring at the time. Back then you would see skiers in their gear and expect them to listen to rap or reggae, because they were all in tall tees etc. Lolo [Favre] for example, who is like the biggest fan of rock music, when you saw him skiing he was all basketball jerseys and doo-rags. It was almost like people didn’t express that they were into rock music.

ANDRE NUTINI (TOP)

LEGS OF STEEL

TOBI:

So how did it all come together when you were filming for your first movie The Pilot? We all asked our sponsors for financial support, so that we could make a ski movie. But we didn’t have a full-time filmer or editor. And none of us could film or edit. So it wasn’t like we went out and filmed each other, ‘cause none of us wanted to film and we all wanted to ski. No one wanted to sacrifice a run or a hit. So we got different filmers to help. Many of the good shots we got through deals with film companies like Nimbus, Poorboyz, Aestivation, Headbud and Pickings Fam, so we swapped footage. We also organized our first park shoot at Kaunertal. And that worked out surprisingly well. Seeing the success of that really kick started everything. We realized that we could plan, organize and execute bigger shoots.

|

PADDY:

Well there was that, and it’s also a very good town to go skiing from. I think Bene was just happy to move out of home. The party situation was also pretty interesting for young people looking for adventure.

JAPAN (BOTTOM)

FEATURE

TOBI:

SVEN KÜENLE & PADDY GRAHAM

66


THOMAS HLAWITSCHKA

EAGLE PASS, B.C. (BOTTOM)

|

SVEN KÜENLE & TOM LEITNER

ENGADINE (TOP)

TOBI:

TOBI:

Yeah back then the scene was a lot more monotone. Luckily that has changed. You guys also changed, from just being skiers to film producers with a business – how did that transition happen? We basically registered a business right away. I was studying economics, so it was kind of my internship. We couldn’t just put the money involved in the project into our personal bank accounts. Not that there was a lot of money involved. It was pretty funny when we went to the bank to open a business account and the bank manager was like “So you want to open an account under the company name Legs of…. Steel?” and I was like “Yes, and by the way, we want a company credit card too.” To the scene it was almost as if you came out of nowhere, with an awesome movie and every year you just got better and better. How did you manage planning each season? Haha, ever since we started organizing the 13-man train shoot in Kaunertal for Nothing Else Matters we basically haven’t had a break to plan properly. At least that’s what it feels like. We kinda knew that movie was going to be sick, so before it was out, we were already planning for the new project. We did everything at the same time: filming, producing, editing, distributing, going on film tours, planning the next project and having huge hangovers.

BENE:

We didn’t want to slow down, because we had momentum. Remember our first trip to Cana-

TOBI:

FEATURE LEGS OF STEEL

PADDY:

67

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

TOBI:

da, to Retallack Lodge for The Pilot? We were planning on filming there for over two weeks, but the filmer had to leave after a few days. The photographer then found a filmer that could help, and that guy turned out to be Andre [Nutini]. He killed it and we brought him back to Europe with us. He basically filmed and edited the entire second movie. As far as being unprofessional goes, we were pretty professional back then. We didn’t have a clue what was going on, but then somehow it always worked out. Well we never once had a movie name or a concept before actual editing started did we? So considering that we did quite well. After the relative success of the first movie we definitely got very


BENE MAYR

VARS

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

LEGS OF STEEL

FEATURE 68


DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

LEGS OF STEEL

FEATURE

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70 FEATURE

told them we would do the sickest park shoot ever. We really wanted to get their heli with the Cineflex and Phantom camera over for the shoot, and I remember they were very suspicious and wanted photos. It was a long shot, but all of a sudden they were on board.

Yeah the next movie Hurt So Good was all about injuries. We have had so many that our legs will literally be made of steel soon. Haha.

THOMAS:

LEGS OF STEEL

TOBI:

PADDY:

BENE:

THOMAS:

BENE:

We kinda told them that Andre had experience filming out of a heli and knew how to operate a Phantom. Actually he’d never touched a Phantom and had only been in a heli once. That shoot was also the first time that David [Peacock] operated a RED camera. Haha. Actually, that was the first time we had David as a part of a shoot at all.You should read this letter from the hospital, about his first night in Innsbruck before the shoot. (Reading Letter)… “Mr. Peacock was apprehended at the Weekender Club where he was displaying aggressive and drunken behavior. At the hospital his ability to

BENE: TOBI:

HOKKAIDO (BOTTOM) SVEN KÜENLE

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

|

DAVID PEACOCK (TOP)

TOBI:

ambitious. We had these huge plans for special shoots although we didn’t really have any idea how to pull them off. The 13-man train shoot for Nothing Else Matters really sums that up quite well. We found this cool spot in Kaunertal and had a crazy idea to build three jumps that all crossed each other. Somehow we convinced a grumpy old man from Kaunertal to approve it, and managed to get Dirk [Scheumann] from Schneestern to build the feature. Then we told a whole bunch of riders to come. We were so stoked that we convinced Lolo Favre and Oscar Scherlin to come. That was the first time they ever shot with us! Then we went to Red Bull and

communicate was limited. After being asked what had happened he responded vaguely: ‘There were not enough chicks and too many guys!’ He was intoxicated, uncooperative, aggressive and had to be restrained and sedated.” Wow! Now that’s an interesting letter from a doctor. That was two nights before the actual shoot at Kaunertal. Basically, we had the jump confirmed a week before. All the skiers arrived and we had to sit out bad weather for like ten days. Everyone was on edge. So we went back to the Innsbruck house and what happens with 15 bored skiers in a house? Everyone gets super wasted. And I guess David fell victim to that. And another guy landed in jail for trying to ‘help’ David. The next morning was a hungover nightmare. On the phone I had the people from Red Bull and Kaunertal convincing them that we are all ready to go. At the same time I was on the way to the hospital to bail David out of the psych ward. Half the riders were missing and we were supposed to shoot the next morning. The next


THOMAS:

TOBI:

PADDY:

SAM SMOOTHY

MURCHISON GLACIER, NZ

TOBI:

THOMAS:

FEATURE LEGS OF STEEL

TOBI:

71

PADDY :

TOBI:

THOMAS:

Haha. That must have been awkward. So when did you first realize that you were on the right path with LOS? When we went to iF3 in Montreal with Nothing Else Matters, Tobi was sitting next to JP Auclair. During the Kaunertal train, JP asked if it was computer generated. Haha. Yeah screening Nothing Else Matters in Montreal was definitely one of the coolest moments. It was just a sick trip in general. We all went to New York and saw Metallica, got drunk and partied in NYC for three days. Then at iF3 we were scheduled between the Poorboyz and MSP movies. It was packed. We were really nervous, but the

whole cinema literally went nuts. People were shouting and cheering during the segments and then at the end we got a standing ovation. It was really crazy and super unexpected.

PADDY:

TOBI:

Basically, with your second movie LOS was established as an internationally respected production company. That’s quite rare. Were there any bumps along the road? Both Tobi and I blew our knees during the Nothing Else Matters. We weren’t even part of the 13man train. Yeah that was a major bummer cause we had to watch it happen. It’s like ever since we started call-

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

BENE:

day I had to drive Andre to the heli pad to sort everything out with the heli team, although we had no idea what “sorting it out” actually meant. Turns out I had to drive up to Kaunertal with powerful heli radio, cause without constant radio contact the Cineflex system wouldn’t work out. Also, we weren’t allowed to salt the jump. But we needed to salt the jump for it all to work. So an hour before the heli arrived, Nico Zacek distracted Kaunertal’s marketing manager with ‘business talk’, we hid salt in our jacket pockets and inside our poles and secretly salted the jump. Meanwhile, I was speeding all the way to Kaunertal, got stopped by the police and had to go to an ATM with them to pay the fine, but my bank card didn’t work. Somehow I managed to convince them to let me off. I was an hour too late, which could’ve fucked the whole shoot but luckily a screw in the Cineflex was loose, so they were delayed and I arrived just in time. The jump was hard, the sun popped, the heli arrived and it was on! So yeah, the end product looked really professional but there was a lot of luck involved! Looking back at it, we wanted to do all the big boys stuff; from zero to 100. We just threw ourselves into the deep end and that’s obviously when trouble comes along. Like when we decided to do an urban shoot where no one had done street rails before for Hurt So Good, we decided on the Ukraine. So Max Hill and Andre drove 15 hours from Munich to the Ukraine. It took them three attempts to cross the border to the Ukraine ‘cause they didn’t have papers for the car. They realized that bribing was the best way. They bribed the border guards 300 Euros, which is a small fortune in the Ukraine. On the way to Kiev they got stopped five times by other police officers and had to bribe them, probably because the guards radioed ahead to tell them about the gold mine that was their car. The 1500 Euros of expenses without receipt was pretty difficult to explain to our tax adviser.


PADDY:

THOMAS:

PADDY:

PADDY:

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

THOMAS:

PADDY:

ing ourselves Legs of Steel our legs started falling apart. I think the biggest bumps along the road were injuries and people missing out on shoots and trips because of them. Yeah the next movie Hurt So Good was all about injuries. We have had so many that our legs will literally be made of steel soon. Haha. I think the four of us haven’t actually skied together for like four years now just because one of us has always been injured. Another big bummer is when you choose a sick rock song for your segment, edit with that song and then you try to get it licensed and it costs 30,000 euros. Then that sick segment to Iron Maiden gets completely scrapped. Goddamn music licenses.

THOMAS:

PADDY :

Music can be really frustrating, especially when people think we have a massive budget. But when it works out it’s pretty awesome. Apparently Marilyn Manson watched the urban segment we cut to his song, and approved it. That’s kind of a funny thought. Also working with bands like Jettblack is cool. Yeah we’ve used a Jettblack song in every film. They were kinda a small band, mates of mates. They

THOMAS :

Over the years you have picked up quite a lot of different skiers to film with; how do new people join your shoots? We have always had a rule that sponsors don’t pay for their own rider to be in a movie. It’s super important to have riders that are committed; that really want to make a good segment. Dedication is priceless for making a good movie. Like [Sam] Smoothy, who competes on the Freeride World Tour and when he has a few weeks spare he gives up preparing for the tour to come film. And Jossi [Wells] as well; we asked him two weeks before our shoot and he flew over from the States just for the shoot and totally threw down. Lolo [Favre], Max Hill and Antti Ollila are all people that we asked who were totally motivated to shoot with us to make something rad. It was us

HOKKAIDO (TOP)

LEGS OF STEEL

PADDY :

PADDY GRAHAM

THOMAS :

|

PADDY :

So what exactly is “The Pan”? It’s just a pan that a drunk Bene Mayr found on the streets of Annecy. It had literally been thrown out as garbage. And Bene forced Lolo [Favre] to drink out of it. Haha. It became a thing. When Lolo first drank out of it, there was just one beer in the pan, then everyone started to pour their drinks in there while he was drinking from it. He downed so much! It was pretty horrible. I have never seen that many pro skiers drink out of a pan.

NINE KNIGHTS, LIVIGNO (BOTTOM)

THOMAS :

were so easy, so it was a no-brainer to work with them. It was rad to finally do a concert with them at iF3 Innsbruck. And we gave them a bottle of Jack Daniels and made them drink out of “The Pan” as well!

TOBI REINDL & BENE MAYR

FEATURE

72


BENE :

PADDY :

TOBI :

PADDY :

OSCAR SCHERLIN

JULIERPASS

THOMAS :

TOBI :

Let’s talk about the new movie. Last fall we saw the hilarious mockumentary #SkiGoodMoneyWillCome but your major movie comes out this fall. What made you go down the route of the two-year project? We want to make a movie that isn’t rushed. We want every single shot that goes into the movie to be the best we can get. David and Andrew in particular didn’t want to put leftover shots in to fill the timeline. It’s also about what we want to ski. All of us have different ideas of what we want to ski and film, and the two-year project is the only way we can fit everything into one movie. Our strengths lie in organizing shoots that are quite hard to pull off. We want to do more of them, but they just take time to get done. This movie is by far the biggest thing we have ever worked on. We are putting all our energy into it,

PADDY :

PADDY : TOBI : BENE :

THOMAS :

TOBI :

So what is the movie called and what’s the concept? I think we need to call our lawyer first… It’s called Passenger. We had a sentence to sum up Andre’s complicated concept: “We are the passengers of winter. We go where the winter takes us.” I think that’s it. Well that certainly sounds professional, when did you start becoming more professional? I think it was after Nothing Else Matters, we won the iF3 awards and people started taking us seriously. Basically, I think the Internet helped a whole lot as well. We released Nothing Else Matters online, one of the first full movies available for free online. It was possible for us to Yolo through the season, cause we didn’t have to worry about DVD’s or distribution and

TOBI :

BENE : THOMAS :

PADDY :

THOMAS :

FEATURE

73

Did you just say “Yolo through the season”? Yes. Thought so. Ok, moving on. What’s your five-year plan? Five year plan? We just plan as far as the weather report goes. Haha. Ok, on that note, lets wrap it up. Do you have any final words? We would like to thank Andre and David for sticking with us and filming and editing everything. And of course big thanks to Indeed Productions for putting together the #SkiGoodMoneyWillCome documentary. Also we would like to thank our families, friends, sponsors and all the riders involved in our projects! Not to mention Pally [Learmond] for taking photos and partying with us all these years. For the real behind the scenes story, you should interview him…

LEGS OF STEEL

THOMAS :

THOMAS :

could focus way more on just filming and editing. It made the whole process a lot easier and we really learnt what we could accomplish. Then for the next release we could focus more on the iTunes and DVD releases. That’s when we started understanding how the whole market works and how to make movie sponsors happy. We started playing by the rules; making proper concepts, proposals, calculated media value and all that crap.

‘cause we want to really make an impact with this one. We are trying to push every aspect of ski movie filmmaking. From the skiing, to the producing, to filming, locations and everything else. The equipment we cruise around the backcountry with these days, it’s like we are skiing around with a Hollywood movie set. Two RED cameras, a crane, gimbals, drones and all these other weird looking things. Andre and David have really been killing it on that front.

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

PADDY :

asking skiers or skiers asking us; not sponsors asking us. There are so many guys that play a massive roll in LOS movies. Like Sven [Küenle] who was kinda our role model and took us under his wing for backcountry filming, Tobi [Tritscher] who is just a nutcase, Fabio [Studer] who’s been there since the beginning and Tom Leitner who is kind of quiet but just such a sick skier. It’s a growing team and there are so many more. It’s awesome to ski with them and also kind of cool to give them the opportunity as well. It’s cool because most of the year we have riders staying here at our house. Sometimes none of us are even here but the house is full of riders that we film with. It’s kind of like a youth hostel really. Haha. More recently we got some young freeriders on board, Raphi Webhofer and Fabi Lentsch from Innsbruck who slay big mountain lines. We also did a trip to Japan with Kiwi shredder Fraser McDougall who is super talented. Yeah I’m stoked on all the new riders we have brought on board for the new movie.


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EKOSPORT Albertville

NO LIMIT SPORTS Bielefeld

100-ONE Malcesine

RIDERS CAVE Poliez-Pittet

360ºEXTREM Andorra la Vella

STEEEZ St. Johan im Pongau

ABS ANNECY Annecy

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Bremen

100-ONE OUTLET Rovereto

SKI SERVICE CORVATSCH Silvaplana

AUSTRIA

MOREBOARDS St. Poelten

ART BY FRIENDS Annecy

BERGSPORT MÜHLBAUER Feldkirchen-Westerham

100-ONE Rovereto

FREEMOUNTAIN Thun

SPORT SCHOBER Bad Gastein

MOREBOARDS Steyr

THE BIG SKATE AND SKI Barcelonnette

SPORT BITTL Fürstenfeldbruck

LA GLISSE Torino

HARDCORE SPORTS Verbier

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Graz

MOREBOARDS Telfs

LABOSHOP Bourg St Maurice

BERGZEIT Gmund

100-ONE Trento

SKI SERVICE VERBIER Verbier

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Innsbruck

INSIDER SPORTSHOP Tux

ZÉRO G Chamonix

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Hamburg

LITHUANIA

ALTMANN SPORT Vevey

DIE BOERSE Innsbruck

SPORT RAINER Uderns

SWITCH 5 Chatel

BERGZEIT Holzkirchen

X PRO Kaunas

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MOREBOARDS Innsbruck

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PRENDS TA LUGE ET TIRE TOI Courchevel

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NETHERLANDS

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LA GLISSE Grenoble

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NORWAY

ELLIS BRIGHAM Braehead Ski

MOREBOARDS Kirchberg

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BLUE TOMATO Munich

VERTICAL PLAYGROUND Oppdal

ELLIS BRIGHAM Bristol

MOREBOARDS Kitzbuehel

SPORT 2000 BRANDSTATTER Werfenweng

ART & CLOTHE BY ZAO Hossegor

SPORT BITTL Munich

OSLO VINTERPARK Oslo

ELLIS BRIGHAM Cambridge

MOREBOARDS Klagenfurt

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HAWAII SURF Ivry-sur-Seine

SPORT BITTL OUTLET Munich Allach

POLAND

ELLIS BRIGHAM Castleford

MOREBOARDS Kufstein

BELGIUM

WOODCORE FREESKI STORE La Clusaz

SPORT BITTL Munich Laim

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ELLIS BRIGHAM Chester

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REPUBLIK SKISHOP Antwerpen

MONTAZ SPORT La Ravoire

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SLOVAKIA

ELLIS BRIGHAM Covent Garden, London

STROLZ SPORTS Lech

BULGARIA

LA TRACE La Rosière

ALPTRAUM Oberstdorf

CAPRICORN Košice

ELLIS BRIGHAM Deansgate

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ONE LOV Les 2 Alpes

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SLOVENIA

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GREENROOM Mayrhofen

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SPAIN

EDGE & WAX Horsham

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EDGE BOARDSHOP AARHUS Aarhus C

KANGRI SPORT Saint Lary

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Stuttgart

TOY FACTORY Barcelona

ELLIS BRIGHAM Kensington, London

SPORTS FASHION OUTLET Mayrhofen

SNOW FUN SKI & RUN Roskilde

ALASKA BC Toulouse

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SWEDEN

ELLIS BRIGHAM Liverpool

BLUE TOMATO SHOP Obertauern

ESTONIA

BLACKCATS Val Claret

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A&T SPORT Tallinn

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SPEXX Wasserburg

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FINLAND

BELLACOOLA Val Thorens

SPORT 65 Weinheim

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REVOLUTION Norwich

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ITALY

KAISER SKIDBOD Sälen

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MANKKAAN SUKSIHUOLTO Espoo

LA CHARPENTERIE Vars les Claux

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GERMANY

CRAS DAL BIMBO Bologna

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ELLIS BRIGHAM St. Paul’s, London

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FEBRUARY

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DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

ANDORRA

SHOPS

75


THOUGHT

76

Stuffing A Freestyle Peg Down The Freeride Rabbit Hole The realms of freeride and freestyle are merging evermore. For events like the Freeride World Tour this poses a difficult conundrum: How to reward progressive trickery compared to hard-charging lines? Sam Smoothy, 2nd on the FWT last season, gives his two cents on this sensitive issue.

VERBIER XTREME SAM SMOOTHY

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

DAVID CARLIER

THE FREESTYLE IN FREERIDE

Text: Sam SMOOTHY


work for freeride events. While the FWT seems set on venues steep and traditional like Verbier, perhaps a spread of venues – some more mellow and playful – would encourage that progressive freestyle element. When it’s Teahupoo/Verbier, we chase those barrels or fall line cliffs but in a Huntington Beach/Snowbird, with smooth take offs and set up room for tricks with flow, we could let that freestyle flag fly! Then, like the ASP, we could have a range of venues that would help us find a true-to-the-times freeride world champion, master of all venues. We must also remember the judges of the Tour are the best we have, but are not infallible automatons. They cannot churn out the perfect answer to this problem every time – in the tiny two-minute window they get – and must be allowed some leeway. As judge Dion Newport suggests, “The balance of tricks verses traditional big mountain riding is really difficult to reward for judges. I would like to see people being punished as hard for small mistakes in tricks as in a straight air to keep the balance true. I hope riders can actually voice an opinion this year constructively, so that the judges don‘t steer the sport but the riders do.”

77 THOUGHT

Ah, the beauty of the modern age, when time-tested experts blare their sacred opinions on every freeski event, secure in their own arrogance hidden behind the broadband safety net. Loftily perched upon a fetid pile of undergarments, nervously awaiting the return of someone with a working knowledge of a washing machine. Now that I have sufficiently pissed on the majority of the online ski community, let’s get down to what this squabble is really all about. Over the course of last year’s FWT there was much impassioned moaning about the judging in freeride events, much of it revolving around the scoring of freestyle-oriented runs and their perceived low placing at events. In a subjectively judged sport there are always going to be those who disagree with the result but this is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to assist pushing the competitive side of the sport forward in a constructive manner. Firstly, we should remember: this is the Freeride World Tour, not Linecatcher. Competitive freeride is the bastard son of extreme skiing, the dubiously labeled art of skiing steep cliffed terrain, and thus some sense of actually skiing steeps and not simply skidding must be retained. All behold and

Despite his scraggly shell, Dion has a very solid head on his broad shoulders and raises a good point. If we are to set the direction of the sport, we first must ascertain where that direction lies. The issue being that opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one but some are louder than others. Which leads me to suggest an anonymous referendum amongst the riders to try and glean where the real majority would like the sport to go. There, we the people, safe in our secrecy, can all dump away in peace. By bringing to light our true opinions we can honestly direct the sport in our own distortedly democratic way. I think we cannot be awarding high scores to runs simply based on cool tricks, as much as we all love to see progressive riding. The FWT, by its own vague definition, needs to retain a sense of the original ideals, an arena for hard lines. If we reward runs based solely around tricks then we will have denounced our freeride faith and have converted to the evolution of slopestyle theory, bound for heretical destinations untold. While witnessing Patrick Baskins rip a blunt 540 off his bottom feature gets me more excited than a Republican attacking green energy, he still needs to rip a strong, technically sound line and stomp the trick to place well. I don’t believe this will restrict the sport overtly, as some riders will stay true to the spirit of experimentation and push the boundaries regardless. We must walk the line between the styles, adding in freestyle only where it doesn’t detract from the actual riding itself. If we allow mellow lines and mistake-riddled skiing under the guise of progression, we undercut that very same progression by not believing these tricks will one day be stomped in the midst of a technical, aggressive freeride run. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard of skiing to ensure that glorious potential remains possible. This is the Freeride World Tour, where Line is Lord over all else, and suffers no fools.

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tremble before the might of a power turn. Freeride was born in the treacherous European Alps, popularized by stylized Yanks and has been scaring the people since a blunt was merely inhaled and not tweaked. But the sport unsurprisingly progressed, stepping out of its own skin in every direction possible. Freeride has stretched to include terminal cliffs to lines resembling a natural slopestyle course. Meaning there is no surprise conflicting views exist as to what a winning freeride run should resemble. Even traditional freeriding has evolved, from bold and precariously exposed short turns to triple drops stomped flawlessly at high speed. The runs judges have to compare are beyond apples vs. oranges, they are in the realm of comparing a matured farm fresh Camembert with a rusted can of Wisconsin’s finest aerosol cheddar. How does one rate an easier line laced with a backflip and 360 to Reine Barkered greasing multiple fall line cliffs in the steeps with ease? “People like to watch big mountain because there are few who can ski these mountains the way we do; fast and with big cliffs.” Suggest the Swede himself. “So the progression has to come while keeping it that way and where possible sending tricks.” By following Reine’s view, we would be able to retain that original, big mountain savvy feel whilst allowing for the freestyle element to come into play as a level up bonus. The ideal situation is a run that mixes the differing styles seamlessly. The ‘all sorts’ assortments of styles within competitive freeride is a such a rarity in sport that I believe only the ASP of surfing has similar issues. There, comparing the power surfing of Mick Fanning with the progressive aerial elements possessed by Gabriel Medina creates a similar argument. While a slight stretch, I do think the parallel between the sports exists and it is interesting to note the ASP’s take on it. While online battles still rage on this subject, the ASP has one large advantage: a wide range of venues. A variety of venues would also

THE FREESTYLE IN FREERIDE

“People like to watch big mountain competitions because there are few who can ski these mountains the way we do; fast and with big cliffs!”


HISTORY

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The Loop The full loop in Poor Boyz Productions’ 2001 film Propaganda is one of the most profound moments in freeskiing’s short history. Dangerous, creative and bold, the loop signified a new generation of skiing.

KURT HEINE (RIGHT) JP AUCLAIR | KURT HEINE (LEFT) JP AUCLAIR & ANTHONY BORONOWSKI

Modern freestyle skiing is old enough to have “golden days”, right? We should hold in highest regards our humble beginnings, when creativity went beyond the style of skiing and was defined by the features we built. This was a time when we were jumping over half-pipes, discovering the magic and terror of wavy rails and building full loops out of snow… The loop from Propaganda by Poor Boyz was a milestone in freeskiing. It brought another level of danger to the scene; a feature itself inverted. It was a concept that epitomized the adventurous and reckless badass vibe freeskiing embodied in its early days. “It was spoke about as dangerous,” reflects founder and director of Poor Boyz, Johnny Decesare. The loop was conceptualized and built by Kurt Heine and later skied by both Anthony Boronowski and JP Auclair. It was destined to turn heads but never a sure thing, turning out to be one of Poor Boyz’s greatest challenges. “The loop took a month to conquer, including one collapse that broke Kurt’s girlfriend’s back and buried her for fifteen minutes,” adds Johnny Decesare. But with some restructuring, the loop was back up and ready to hit. Driven past their doubts by the youthful cockiness that seemed to define the era, Anthony and JP bailed the first handful of attempts on the daunting feature, but as the sun dropped from the sky and dripped golden light over the gnarly scene, the boys manned up and made another pass at the loop, this time with success.

“JP was freaked out but confident,” says Decesare. However, it was Anthony Boronowski who first successfully skied the full loop, albeit with a rather sketchy execution. “JP stepped up shortly after and just greased it.” Catching the transitions perfectly, JP’s shot in the film is one of the most memorable of all time, completing a full man-made loop for the first time in history. It was the epitome of the era, the height of creative prowess on twin-tip skis. “For a moment there I thought it might not ever happen,” explains Decesare. “Anthony got his shot eventually as well, so we were all really really stoked.” For all of the work that went into the full pipe, those two shots were some of the most impressive you will ever see in a ski movie. The concept was innovative, adding a much-needed dynamic to the budding freeski scene. Suddenly there were no limits to how one could design a feature. In a sport/hobby/activity that was growing on the motto that ‘bigger is better’, the loop proved that there was more to it, that simple creativity could impress just as much. “It turned out to be one of my greatest movie covers ever for Poor Boyz; a proud moment to look back on and see what we accomplished,” says Decesare on the accomplishment. And you should take pride in it as well. We can all look back on the loop and appreciate what it meant for skiing back then and where it’s gotten us now. We are one hell of a creative collective, creating some of the most fun features to ski and showcase on film. But it is also ok to reminisce on the fond memories of the ‘golden years’. Decesare puts it succinctly in saying, “Those times are as good as it gets…”

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

UPSIDE DOWN

Text: Kyle MEYR


DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

BUILDING A SKI

SCIENCE

80

A Ski Like No Other We wanted to build a one-of-a-kind Downdays Ski, yet we were well aware of our lack of manual craftsmanship or tools for that matter. So when the idea of making a custom ski sprouted, we chose the path of least resistance and went straight to the experts. Text: Mark VON ROY

Photos: Mark VON ROY & Kyle MEYR

In the shadow of the 2000 m high Nordkette in Innsbruck, opposite a centuries old church, the sound of high powered saws and the smell of glue mixed with sawdust signifies the SpurArt headquarters; where crafty carpenters and engineers have been churning out high quality custom skis for over four years. These passionate skiers have perfected the process of ski construction into a combination of science and art. Apart from creating made-to-order skis, SpurArt holds workshops every weekend for folk eager to try their hand at ski or snowboard construction. Enthusiasts from across Europe flock here – one zealous lad even flew all the way from Australia – we just jumped on our bikes for the five-minute trip from the Downdays office. Before actual construction began, we sat down with Michael ‘Michi’ Freymann, a founder of SpurArt, to determine what ski we wanted to build. Michi presented ten different basic shape concepts and we started enthusiastically tinkering. A little more girth here, a little less rocker there, nose-taper shifted forward a little, slightly more stiffness and camber underfoot… We wanted playful powder planks that would still control well on hard-pack and Michi was intent on creating something to suit our needs. Once we finalized the shape, flex, materials and top sheet design, our guru went off to prepare everything.

Two weeks later, in the elbow grease headquarters mentioned earlier, we meet our ski building experts Peter and Aurel who present us with all the prepared materials and custom templates. They will be guiding us to ensure we don’t make a grand mess of it all or cause havoc with all the equipment. Lining the walls are planers, jigsaws, boxes of sandpaper, clamps, clasps, buckets of epoxy resin and miscellaneous tools I can’t identify. All the materials needed for our epic ski are carefully arranged: the almighty ash wood cores, four edges, rubber edge dampeners, high quality base material, sheets of fiberglass and two templates (one that defines the radius and taper profile, the other – upon which all the material is eventually placed – that defines the 3D camber and tip/tail rocker). A gigantic question mark comes to the fore of my mind. How in the world is it all supposed to come together in two days? Luckily, Peter takes to the stage and starts explaining. It all begins with the cores – which are two rectangular planks of vertically laminated ash at this point – we mark the mid points on the sidewall at the tip, middle and tail, then plane the cores to the desired thickness. To the tip and tail of the base we tape two rectangular bits of ABS plastic, the real tip and tail. Subsequently, the pre-cut bases get clamped together and the edges come into play, which must be cut to size and bent to


um sack and all the air is removed using a vacuum pump. Everything is put into a gigantic 60° oven at 1 bar of pressure over night; this fuses the epoxy coated layers together, creating the 3D shape of the ski. The following morning we return to unpack our masterpieces. Using a jigsaw, we carefully cut out our ski shape from the rectangular blocks, taking extra care not to cut into the edges; this is a big no-no! The most difficult and risky part of the process is routing the sidewall, which gives it the right profile; we gladly hand Aurel the job in fear of messing up so close to the finish. The last two hours we spend sanding down the sidewall, tips and tails of the skis and polishing the top sheet. Eh voila: we made our own ski, with a little – well, actually a lot – of help from our friends. Needless to say, a lot of sweat goes into making a ski, and this is only an abbreviated description. It was an immensely rewarding experience and if you want to find out more about the whole process, or are interested in making your own ski, check out www.spurart.at, ‘cause they got mad skills.

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

the sidecut. All four edges are then super-glued between the bases. At this point we have our first of many beer breaks and admire our craftiness. After the beverage time-out we find out why they call it a sandwich construction, ‘cause it’s literally like making a sandwich but instead of delicious salami, crunchy lettuce, tasty mayonnaise and freshly picked tomatoes; we use the solid wood core, magical fiber glass, potent resin and our freshly edge-implemented bases. Atop our custom 3D template we first place the base material and a lathering of the first coat of epoxy resin ensues. Using paint rollers we evenly disperse the resin and use it to glue the rubber dampeners above the edges; which ensure that the edges don’t blow out on first impact. Next comes the fiberglass, responsible for the torsional strength of the ski, which is carefully laid lengthwise on the base material; more epoxy follows. After more fiberglass and resin, eventually the wood core is placed on our sandwich, which is again followed by resin and fiberglass. This is both the most time consuming and critical part of the process, ‘cause if you mess this up your ski will fall apart. The final layer is the top sheet; there are countless options and we have made a custom design featuring the glorious Downdays cloud. At the end of the sandwich making process the whole ensemble on the 3D template is wrapped in a sturdy plastic vacu-

BUILDING A SKI

SCIENCE

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SPRAY

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The Plight of the Gaper Way before Rudi Garmisch perfectly illustrated it in Hot Dog 1, skier elitism has been a thing. Some skiers simply feel superior to others and patronize them. These others are usually called “Gapers”.

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

SKIER ELITISM

Text: Mark VON ROY

On a long cat-track I overtake a jeans wearing guy doing his utter best at impersonating a racer tuck. While his form is far from aerodynamic, his real hurdle in achieving the desired speed to make it over the approaching hump is the fact that he is doing the pizza, aka snowplow. I look back at him and apart from thinking “man, he must have a disproportionately cold forehead” the prevailing thought is: “That doesn’t look like fun at all.” I start feeling a little sorry for him. Sporting waist hugging suspender pants or jeans tucked into rear entry boots, an ill-fitting jacket from the early 90s peppered with clashing patterns and, of course, the fanny pack; this awkward breed of skier is someone we have all encountered. Whether on snowblades, sled dogs or skis sans side-cut, the so-called “Gaper” can be a source of frustration, confusion and utter joy. While no one knows the origin of the term, some say it is due to the large gap between their goggles and hat; hence the cold forehead. Anyhow, as I pause behind the crest of the cat-track, pizza-tuck-guy comes plodding by and gives me a cheerful “Howdee” and asks: “Which way to the obstacle course?” Slightly confused I point in the general direction of the park: “That way I guess,” and he poles off with a “Cheerio!”. He was having a good old-fashioned great time. A thought starts to blossom; perhaps Gapers have just as much fun on the mountain as I do – maybe even more. Their fun is not dictated by the amount of fresh snow or the condition of the park. They are unconcerned by their lack of skiing ability or knowledge of the “scene”, a Gaper is just happy to be sliding on snow and I guess there is a certain beauty to that. I’d wager that, while my jeans wearing mate had his fair share of crashes in the “obstacle course”, he probably had a blast doing it. I think it’s totally okay to have a little chuckle at someone dressed or skiing funny on the mountain… Because it’s funny. However, there is no reason to treat a fellow skier with disrespect purely because of what they look or ski like. I like to appreciate the different types of Gapers, it’s almost like bird watching. Spot the monoboarder, spot the bigfooter, spot the neon one-piece and so on. It’s a fun game, and now I no longer feel sorry or superior to other skiers, I appreciate them all. 1

1 “Hot Dog… The Movie” is a comedy ski film released in 1984. Apart from popularizing the Chinese Downhill, it is to date still the most successful and hilarious Hollywood film about skiing. It is iconic and a must watch!

EXHIBIT A The Sled Dog Gaper. A rare breed of Gaper that sports Sled Dogs: on mountain sliding devices that simplify downhill movement by eliminating the poles, bindings and even skis – only boots are necessary.


WHO SAYS WINTER CAN’T BE HOT? NEW SEASON MERINO


DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

STEPT PRODUCTIONS

CREW

84 Text: Kyle MEYR

A Decade of Stept

Photos: Erik SEO

Consistently at the forefront of the urban ski scene, Stept Productions has skied, grown and lived together for about a decade. Started by Nick and Alex Martini, the best of the icy East Coast’s urban and park scene joined in forming a crew that has gone on to accomplish a decade’s worth of industry-leading freeski filming. It just kinda… happened. They gravitated towards each other; a handful of the best talents on the East Coast of the United States who just happened to ski a bit differently than everyone else. They were cohesive, with their greatest commonality being that they didn’t quite fit in. They stuck together and grew under the name Stept Productions, filming their progression and eventually becoming MEMBERS: Nick Martini, the powerhouse trendsetters they are Alex Martini, Cam Riley, today. Sean Jordan, Shea Flynn, Charlie Owens, “It started super casually,” says Noah Albaladejo, Alex Nick Martini, co-founder of Stept ProBeaulieu-Marchand, ductions. “We didn’t go out and say, Clayton Vila and Tom Warnick ‘We’re going to start a ski film crew.’” LOCATION: Colorado and They grew naturally without any deEast Coast U.S.A. fined intent or goals, their collective INCEPTION: 2001 TERRAIN: Urban and Park personality a product of just spending time together gruelingly skiing in the streets. That personality translated well onto film and they quickly jumped to the forefront of the urban ski scene. “The crew of skiers in our movies has been skiing and living together for like a decade,” says Nick. “We have this tribe mentality.” And it shows; the core Stept crew has featured in every movie since the beginning. Their styles may differ but when combined on film they share one passionate and ambitious persona, driven by an insatiable desire to go faster, bigger and get more technical. But success was never a guarantee, a motif that follows them throughout their films. Wrought with disaster, despair and the dark side of danger, the most recent Stept films are wrapped in dark themes; the gruesome underbelly of the urban scene few crews dare to show. “It’s always daunting… I’m about to spend my winter travelling around cities with little to no budget beating the shit out of myself,” says Nick. This is what puts it all in perspective for the audience. The films aren’t about failure and tribulation; they’re about conquering adversity as a crew. Injury, tension, aggression… These are all tools through which Stept can truly put their comradery into perspective. But what do these sacrifices and the toil amount to? “It’s more about chasing after that personal fulfillment.” Plain and simple; Stept Productions just loves to ski. They continually raise the bar purely for the sake of seeing it higher year after year, if not for anyone else but themselves. “They’re hungry,” says Nick. And thus, despite rumors of Ten and Two being the final Stept Productions movie, this year promises to be their most productive yet. “We’re trying to switch it up a little by pro-

ducing different forms of content...” Nick seems anxious to produce films about the individual riders but insists that each of them have distinct plans for the season as well. “It’s disap-

pointing to hear some people being bummed that they’re not going to see the Stept crew ski, because they will Concern” more than ever.” 2005: “Blueprint” 2006: “Strange Folk” And as they grow up, so must 2007: “Chronillogical” their approach to urban skiing. “It’s go2008: “Road to Nowhere” ing to start moving away from really re2009: “How We Livin” 2010: “Network” ally big shit because you can only go so 2011: “Weight” far with that and it’s just so dangerous,” 2012: “The Eighty Six” Nick says. “I think that’s gone far 2013: “Mutiny” 2014: “Ten and Two” enough.” He followed up by saying that there will be a movement towards a more technical style of urban skiing, emphasizing tricks rather than the size of the feature. Whatever the future holds for Stept, they will always be looked at as gods of the freeski scene. They are our antiheroes… a group of friends who banded together to conquer the streets and continue to set a precedent for the rest of the industry year after year. PRODUCTIONS: 2003: “Stept” 2004: “To Whom it May


DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

STEPT PRODUCTIONS

CREW

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INSIDER

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Skier, Shaper, Shooter and Scribe Few individuals are as deeply and broadly involved in freeskiing as Ethan Stone. While he would never claim this, Ethan has dedicated his life to our niche, so we felt it was time for some recognition. We first crossed paths at Linecatcher in Les Arcs a few years ago. During a weather hold, while most other journalists were huddled in the lodge, Ethan and I were doing hot laps together, searching for face shots. During casual chairlift chats I realized that his knowledge of skiing was immense. The Encyclopedia of Freeskiing embedded in his brain harbored interesting and funny facts that distracted us from the cold, yet his own story was just as intriguing. Ethan’s parents had him up on the hill at the tender age of three, but it was the mute grab 360 seen around the world – performed by Jonny Moseley at the 1998 Nagano Olympics – that opened Ethan Stone’s eyes to the true potential of skiing. He first started building jumps in Twin Falls, Idaho – due to the lack of parks – then slid his first hand rails after moving to Cadillac, Michigan. While neither place is really conducive to freeskiing, Ethan was hooked. His passion for skiing was equaled only by his passion for journalism. After working for a local newspaper when he was 16 years old, Stone transitioned into writing articles for Newschoolers.com, eventually becoming their first editor, around the turn of the Millennium. As freeskiing grew, so did he – eventually picking up a camera to shoot photos and starting an internship at Freeskier magazine. After a couple of years of being involved in the scene through journalism, he realized there was a disconnect between the people that create freeski media and the one’s that create freeskiing. A divide between those shaping parks or making events happen; the ones in the shit all day and

night, and the one’s turning up to shoot the features and report on events; the media folk. A thought germinated in his mind, “I realized that I didn’t know shit about anything and before I started writing, I needed to learn shit about something” he reflects, “so at that point I decided to go live at a ski resort”. Before eventually finding the shovel of park shaping at Mount Hood in 2009, Ethan worked in a rental shop, sold lift tickets and was a janitor cleaning up shit at the lodge. He credits his broad involvement in the scene as the driving force behind his in-depth knowledge of the ski experience. After a three-year hiatus from ski journalism to focus on living in the ski scene itself, Ethan Stone eventually picked up the pen again as a contributor for Powder, Freeskier, ESPN, Bravoski, Newschoolers.com and of course Downdays. While his articles and photos have gained global recognition, Ethan is still very involved in the park-shaping scene, shaping the Nine Knights and Nine Queens features for a number of years, as well as numerous pristine parks as part of the infamous Schneestern crew. One of his biggest accolades however, is the West Coast Session, which he has run, shaped and organized in Timberline, Oregon since 2007. Above all his involvement, Ethan is just a stoked skier who can still be found hustling laps through the park, touring the backcountry or searching for face shot stashes. As the man himself says: “It’s variety that’s essential to the vitality of freeskiing!”

ROCKY MALONEY

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

ETHAN STONE

Text: Mark VON ROY


A New View Text: Kyle MEYR

A yearning sense of adventure plays a huge role in your life as a skier. Thus, it is important to explore… to look beyond the nearest peaks and push yourself to travel, experience and learn. Perhaps Poland is your next stop?

The joy of skiing lies in the adventure. It starts with gradual turns at your local hill and evolves into an insatiable desire to explore, to take the next lift up in search of the more exotic view, faster slopes and intricate lines. That intrepid seed eventually grows uncontrollably, taking you to the peak and it is there that you realize while gazing as far as the eye can see that this adventure will take you far beyond the constraints of your local hill. And so you travel… New terrain presents a new challenge, new cultures show you new perspectives and these new views open whole new worlds of opportunity. This is it… This is when that small desire to go higher and faster has fully budded into an adventurous obsession. This is when you can truly call yourself a skier. You now find yourself in Bialka Tatrzanska, Poland, at the base of their tallest ski mountain, Kotelnica Bialczanska. It is a quaint place, humble in comparison to a lot of the peaks you’ve conquered on your journeys, but the view is new and the culture teaches you lessons you’ve never imagined. It is a break from your terribly fantastic habit of scaring yourself shitless and a chance to kick back, relax and enjoy the ski life you’ve worked so hard to obtain. LOCATED IN: Bialka Tatrzanska, Southern Poland ALTITUDE: 700-934 m

LIFTS: 19 SNOWPARKS: 1 with 20+ features

The week starts with a few laps through their terrain park, with world-class kickers and a rail garden that plays host to the Polish Freeskiing Open. Some of the features are quirky and unique, but the lessons you’ve learned in parks passed makes them playful and the trees in between the 17km of slopes are untouched on powder days. Exhausted, you retire to your hotel, the home of a geothermic waterpark full of opportunities for you to goof around and create stories as well as relax and tell tales of your journey. Dry off, eat a fantastic dinner and retire knowing full well that you deserve this… This is your escape, your oasis in a life that you’ve worked too damn hard for. The next day calls for a hike. The snow is fluffy and it’s time to go touring. Just near is Tatra National Park, a unique chance to earn some turns isolated far beyond anywhere you’ve ever called home… And within hours you’ve done it, you’ve summited. Lunch at the top yields two rewards; first, the promise of untouched turns in an untapped powder heaven. The second reward is a new view to add to your journey. Far off in the distance, beyond where the eye can see, is the next stage of your adventure: new terrain, a new culture and an entirely new view. DAY PASS: Adult – 21.50€ Child – 18.00€ WWW.BIALKATATRZANSKA.PL

MATEUSZ KISZELA

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

KOTELNICA BIALCZANSKA

DESTINATION

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Freeride Playground Text: Alexandra ENGELS

A special gem is hidden in the Montafon Valley, at the southern corner of Vorarlberg in Western Austria. We asked a local legend to explain what makes Silvretta Montafon so special…

SEASON: 10.12.2014-12.04.2015 ALTITUDE: 700-2,430 m

LIFTS: 37 SNOWPARKS: 1

where you cover all the safety basics and can explore a few of the freeride routes. Fabio’s favourite spot can be found in the Nova Valley: “I like it here the most, because there are steep faces, lots of wind lips and cliffs for jumping – a perfect preparation venue for the FreerideWorld Tour and Red Bull Linecatcher.” The Nova Valley is also where Fabio creates his infamous GoPro edits and where you’ll find some of the best perspectives for photography in the whole of Silvretta Montafon. As soon as you’ve collected enough faceshots, Fabio recommends a visit to the Snowpark at Grasjoch: “The Snowpark is very versatile and has something for everyone. The run is pretty long and you can take a lot of features in one line. In the middle of the run you can choose between a medium kicker line and a pretty rad pro kicker.” Here too, Silvretta offers weekly sessions in the snowpark for beginners, where experienced freestylers guide young and old through the park and provide valuable coaching. And even better: from the Freda chairlift you’ve got the perfect view of the park and after plenty of runs you can relax your legs while snapping a few shots of your friends. What else could you ask for? DAY PASS: Adult – 47.50€, Child – 27.00€ WWW.SILVRETTA-MONTAFON.AT

PALLY LEARMOND

According to Freeride World Tour competitor Fabio Studer, the abundance of easy-access backcountry sets Silvretta apart. “It is different to other resorts because one can find lots of great powder runs that are easily accessible without hiking all the way,” he says. “For me that’s perfect, because I am a lazy hiker. I don’t want to waste time hiking up when it’s dumped. I want to get as many powder runs in as possible and that’s not an issue at all at Silvretta.” There is a reason why Silvretta calls itself a Freeride Hotspot. There are heaps of designated freeride routes as well as over 70 different freeride tours! Naturally, the resort also cares for your off-piste safety: Fabio recommends paying a visit to the Freeride Centre at Grasjoch before every stint in the backcountry. Here you can hire avalanche safety-equipment and inform yourself on the latest snow conditions and weather forecasts as well as get important tips about the resort’s backcountry terrain. Apart from the usual beacon checkpoints there’s also a permanent Pieps search field, where you can train for worst-case scenarios. But even for freeriding beginners the resort has something on offer: on Mondays and Wednesdays you can take part in the Freeride Safety Check,

FABIO STUDER

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

SILVRETTA MONTAFON

DESTINATION

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PLACE: SVENSKERUTA, TROLLVEGGEN

PHOTO: DANIELE MOLINERIS

WITH: KJETIL SVANEMYR, HÅVARD

PLACE: SAN MARTINO DI CASTROZZA

NESHEIM & HANS CHR. DOSETH

RIDER: BRUNO COMPAGNET

PRODUCT: THE FIRST TROLLVEGGEN,

PRODUCT: LOFOTEN GORE-TEX

MADE WITH GORE-TEX

ACTIVE ANORAK & PRO PANTS

YEAR: 1980

YEAR: 2014

In 1972 we believed product development should be driven by the extreme

We still do

www.norrona.com


BORN: 15th of December 1968 in Tarbe s, France (Département Hautes Pyrénées) BASE CAMPS: Pyrenees, Chamonix and the Dolomites HOME MOUNTAIN: All mountains with snow PASSIONS: Mountains, people and trave lling SPONSORS: Norrøna, Black Crows, Plum , Scarpa, Level, Oakley, Ferrino, Petzl

R E D I R E E R F THE TRUE Text: Klaus PO

LZER

CONTEST RESULTS (SELECTION): 1998: 1st Place Free Ride

Classic, Courchevel

2000: 2nd Place Red Bull

Snow Thrill, Chamonix

2000: 1st Place Scandina-

vian Big Mountain Championships, Riksgränsen 2002: 1st Place Red Bull Snow Thrill, Chamonix 2005: 2nd Place Verbier Xtreme

TRAVEL DESTINATIONS SO FAR (SELECTION):

Bruno Comp agnet is for fr eeskiing what cian”: not a hu musicians wo ge star, but ev uld call a “M eryone in the from the P y re usicians’ Musi sc ene k nows an nees has been d admires him there since th mountains no . T he Frenchie e beginning a w, at 46 years nd is more a old, than ever. is Bruno Com t home in th If a “tr ue” fre pagnet. e erider exists, then his nam e

CHRIS HOLTER

Haines, Valdez (Alaska), Yukon (Canada), Orizaba Volcano (Mexiko), Cordillera Blanca (Peru), Patagonia (Argentina, Chile), Kamchatka (Russia), Himalayas (Nepal, India), Caucasus Mountains (Russia), Uludag (Turkey), Parnassos (Greece), Carpathian Mountains (Romania), Svalbard (Norway), High Atlas (Morocco)


BRUNO COMPAGNET

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living his passion earns him a living, not the other way around. The path to skiing was almost predestined for Bruno. He grew up as a child of two ski instructors in SaintLary-Soulan, one of the big French ski areas in the Pyrenees. There he swiftly developed his skills on two planks but he felt that real ski culture was missing in his home. “The Pyrenees don’t have a freeride tradition like in the Alps, or like the Bask Country has its surf culture,” he explains. “It was all about Rugby and hunting there.” So he went to the Zinal valley in Switzerland as a ski instructor for a season. When his father picked him up in spring – as Bruno didn’t own a car – he showed his son the Chamonix valley on the way back. “When we approached the Col des Montets and I saw the Mald die Grand Montets full of snow high above the Argentiere, I knew that I had to come back.” he recalls. It took two years, but eventually Bruno spent his compulsory military service in Chamonix. “It wasn’t particularly sexy, but I learnt a lot about

the mountains and afterwards I got a job as a ski instructor in Argentiere.” Over the next few years Chamonix became a second home for Bruno. The European freeride scene established its first hub there, helped in part by a few foreign trendsetters. One of them, the English photographer Tim Barnett, eventually organised the first ever freeride contest in the valley. “Tim had seen me ski before and told me that I had to take part,” remembers Bruno. “I had no idea what a freeride contest was actually about. But I enjoyed it and so I stuck with it.” Soon after Bruno became curious about other lands and other mountains. That same season he was the first French person to take part at the World Extreme Skiing Championships in Alaska, the event that dominated the scene at the time. Contests and photo shootings became routine in the following years, but were never the defining element of Bruno’s life. Nevertheless, he still collected some impressive results, particularly his win at the Red Bull Snow Thrill in Cham-

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

CHRIS HOLTER SAN MARTINO DI CASTROZZA, DOLOMITES

Many years ago, 15 to be exact, I had the great pleasure of sharing a powder day at Brevent in Chamonix with Bruno Compagnet. We randomly crossed paths by the lift station, were both riding solo and so ended up skiing together the whole day. There was almost a meter of fresh snow and I still remember that day fondly today. The avalanche situation was critical but there is hardly a better ski partner than Bruno for days like that. He knew every square centimetre of that mountain better than the back of his hand and was always acutely aware of what the wind, snow and sunlight had been up to; making the best decisions for our routes. The entire day we had first tracks, and this was Chamonix! I had met Bruno the first time five years prior, at one of the first freeride contests in Europe, which were far smaller occasions back then in France. He had quickly established himself as one of the riders at the forefront and was constantly found in the pages of the newly emerging freeski magazines. Not much has changed. Nowadays one can still find the humble Frenchman regularly featured in galleries, trip stories and video edits – and not as a reflection of the good old days, but because he is a protagonist of our sport. Apart from Glen Plake, there is no other skier that can reflect on a professional career that has lasted as long. In contrast to Glen or the other important figures of our inception, Bruno Compagnet was never a big star. This was not due to a lack of talent or ability – as anyone that remembers him from back then would attest to. “Skiing for me, was never about becoming famous”, explains Bruno. “It is enough if I am able to earn enough money through skiing so that I don’t have to work so much and I can concentrate on living in the mountains. Everyone has their own way and my way is to try and stand on skis as much as possible.” This is something he has achieved without compromise. Bruno was part of the Salomon International team for many years until he became co-founder of Black Crows. The somewhat less glamorous – but by now very successful – French version of Armada: a ski brand by freeskiers for freeskiers. As an important ambassador for leading companies like Norrøna, he is in contact with snow almost on a daily basis. Bruno is different to others, for whom freeriding becomes a job that eventually distances itself from skiing;


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ple are there that just want to become famous. For the usual ski bum it has become almost impossible.” Bruno is still focused on simply developing his skiing. “My goal is to have fun and always pro-

KARI MEDIG

onix in 2002. “That was the only event that I really wanted to win,” he concedes, “because it was a big deal in my new home on Chamonix.” He used his new found freedom as part of the Salomon International Team – in part due to this win – to travel to many foreign lands and mountains. Bruno followed a path, that was first established in surfing a while ago and now in the age of selfmade video edits and webisodes is becoming the norm in freeskiing as well: defining oneself as an athlete through one’s philosophy towards the elements and sharing it with the world. Chamonix has remained Bruno’s base camp over the years, as it is the headquarters of Black Crows and a fulcrum of the freeski industry. Meanwhile privately, the father of a young daughter prefers the Dolomites as a home. “I have a love-hate relationship with Chamonix. The place has become so oriented towards rich skiers and so many peo-

gress. And I am actually doing that! I ski a lot of steeps and learn every day I am on the mountain.” The Dolomites are the perfect playground for ski alpinism and “free touring”. Even in this endeavour Bruno remains true to his philosophy: “For me it is not about skiing a specific line just to show it off afterwards. If I want to show people something then it is the relationship that I have with the mountains and the snow.” He dreams of getting a caravan and spending the entire winter following the snow; to always be where the good snow is. “The best part of my experience,” explains Bruno, “is that I don’t waste any time. I use every day as much as possible!” In this fast paced era we live in, characters like Bruno Compagnet are essential for our sport. Hopefully we see similar protagonists rise up, to ensure that the future of freeski culture retains this philosophical and reflective perspective to the mountains and the snow. And with people like Bruno around to show the way, this is more than likely.

PATAGONIA

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

BRUNO COMPAGNET

PORTRAIT

“For me it is not about skiing a specific line just to show it off afterwards. If I want to show people something then it is the relationship that I have with the mountains and the snow.”


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HAINES, AK

DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

MARIO FEIL

SHADES OF WINTER

VIBES 96


SHADES OF WINTER DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

Shades of Winter, the brainchild of Austrian freeskier Sandra Lahnsteiner, brings together a stacked roster of female freeskiers from around the globe. For their 2014 film Pure the crew returned to Haines, Alaska for the second time and stepped up their game. Sandra, Janina Kuzma and Matilda Rapaport skied some of the steepest lines ever skied by a female in AK. The moment Matilda dropped in for this line was easily the scariest moment the crew faced throughout the whole season. “Being in AK doesn’t just mean you get to ski some of the best mountains in the world in epic conditions, it also means dealing with risks. This was one of those situations when, despite doing all we could to avoid being at risk, I still got exposed to it. When I saw the snow cracking up around me, my first thought was to ski out of it by pointing my skis straight down. That was impossible, but I still stayed on the surface, perhaps thanks to that decision. Everything went really fast: all of a sudden I was standing still on the flat – skis still on my feet and poles in hand – with heavy snow up to my thighs. It’s a situation I will never forget and I’m very thankful nothing worse happened. Six stitches in my forearm are all it left me with and that’s something I can deal with.” Matilda RAPAPORT

VIBES

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FEBRUARY

APRÈS

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DOWNDAYS SEASON 14/15 MAGAZINE

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Downdays Magazine, February 2015 (EN)  

In this issue: Mt Hood Super Sessions with Sammy Carlson Legs Of Steel Interview Skiing In The Middle East

Downdays Magazine, February 2015 (EN)  

In this issue: Mt Hood Super Sessions with Sammy Carlson Legs Of Steel Interview Skiing In The Middle East

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