Aly Nicklas grew up in Alaska, two blocks from the lifts of Alyeska. She quit high school and moved to the mountains of Colorado to pursue her lifelong dream of competitive snowboarding. But by 2004, at the age of 21, she had suffered at least 10 concussions. The symptoms were stacking up: memory problems, seizures, depression and trouble speaking. So she put her board away. Eight years later, she strapped on a board and helmet and returned to the slopes. This short film explores what it felt like to return to her first love.
When he was young, Sébastien de Sainte Marie saw a picture of Sylvain Saudan, “Skier of the Impossible,” and knew what he wanted to do with his life. Today, the Swiss skier picks extreme lines that few dare to try. In a sport where one slip or misjudged turn could mean death, de Sainte Marie is cool and collected. Sound of the Void follows him as he attempts a first descent of the 55-degree north face of Gspaltenhorn in the Bernese Alps and artfully captures his almost Zen-like calm.
With a graceful style and aggressive lines, Wendy Fisher ruled the women’s big mountain freeskiing scene from 1996 to 2004. She skied Alaskan spines, hucked cliffs, starred in movie segments, won many championships, kept up with male cohorts and inspired a new generation of female badasses. Then she had kids and traded in the life of a professional skier for being a mom to two red-headed boys. This Solomon film checks in with Fisher, who gets the opportunity to see if she’s still got it on the steeps of B.C. and Chile.
Though she grew up chasing surf in the warm waters of southern France, Lea Brassy’s nomadic lifestyle has led her to Northern Norway, where frigid waves crash into a rugged coastline and mountains rise straight up from the sea. Finding simplicity and an appealing balance between nature and humanity, she parks her van for awhile to connect with the landscape. Fishing, climbing and surfing in a thick wetsuit, even while the snow falls around her, Brassy reminds us that living simply is living fully.
In recent years, Telluride has seen a spate of fat bike riders. Strike that. In recent years, Telluride has seen a spate of bicyclists who ride bikes with super fat tires, some as wide as 4.5 inches. These bikes navigate winter trails that have long been the sole province of skiers and snowshoers. Cold Rolled is the first film to capture this sport, and its footage is from near Lake Superior, where the long winters make for great fat biking.
This short introduces the people who want first tracks so badly that they sleep in vans and camper vehicles parked at the base of the ski area. This subculture includes families and couples, but it’s comprised mainly of dudes who are happy to deal with the cold showers (or in some cases, no showers) and cold breakfasts in trade for the cold smoke of untracked powder turns.
A desert oasis beckons. Is it a mirage, or is that really a chairlift? Talented filmmakers Jordan Manley and Daniel Irvine has been following skiers around the globe for years for their series “A Skier’s Journey,” but in this episode, they’ve stumbled across a strange location for rippers. Ski Dubai is a small hill with a 200-foot vertical rise that’s built into a luxury shopping mall in the largest sand desert on the planet. Massive air-conditioning fans whir to cool the single slope, while temperatures outside soar above 100 degrees. But the benefits entice: a collection of quirky regulars, year-round turns and predictable conditions.
Daily life on the Alaskan North Slope is about the mundane reality of moving oil through hundreds of miles of a pipeline’s stiff steel sleeve. At night, though, when the aurora borealis glimmers and scintillates in the sky, life sheds the cloak of mundanity and assumes a brilliant mantle of magic.