By Will Eginton
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa is quite possibly the easiest skier to pick out of a crowd. We can thank his trademark hair for that. But it’s his skiing—and almost Taoist approach to the mountains—that sets him apart. The TGR fixture is as equally at home on Alaskan spines as he is boosting backcountry booters. This past season, despite a newfound interest in competing (he appeared in three contests), Sage dedicated his time to logging serious hours traveling and filming with TGR for the forthcoming film, One for the Road. Here, Powder.com gets all curious with Sage about these and other topics:
POWDER.COM: So, about last winter…
SAGE CATTABRIGA-ALOSA: I spent most of my season dedicated to filming with TGR. It pretty much revolved around three main trips spread throughout the season. I started out in France around the time of Redbull Linecatcher event, in Vars. My friend and filmer Pete O’Brien came along with me, and we took a pretty cool approach. There was contest stuff going on, and we went out filming sort of at the same time. We built a jump, hit it all morning, and then I went and scoped the contest course in the afternoon. It was cool to be able to do both.
Was it hard to get shots because of the lackluster snow? The snowpack in France, and Europe in general, was pretty thin, but we got some shots. We managed to build some cool jumps and got some interesting freestyle footage. It was really fun to do that early in the season and get some tricks under my belt early on.
How was the Baldface Lodge experience this year? It was really cool. We had a good crew: Dash Long, Grete Eliassen, and myself. We also hooked up with the Zip-line posse, and that was really sweet. They strung zip lines over the zones we were skiing, and filmed from above. It definitely added a new element and some logistical challenges to the filming process. It worked though. It really provided a really cool perspective, so it was definitely worthwhile. We had a week there, and it was stormy the whole time. It made it really fun. There is some amazing terrain to ski even when it is stormy, so that went well.
Did you film anywhere else in British Columbia? Yeah, I went from Baldface right over to Pemberton and met up with Ian McIntosh. We usually take out sleds in that area. It is right in their back yard, so usually they stick to the sleds. This year, Ian planned to some heli-ing as well. It was a big project, and really exciting for him. Callum Pettit was on that section of the trip with us. We ran into some adverse weather: It got really cold and windy. It kind of made the heli aspect of the trip a little challenging, but we got in some good stuff. Besides, we had our snowmobiles as a back up. That ended up being the savior of the trip. We felt like we got skunked with the weather on our heli mission, but we were able to take the sleds out and get some good footage. I’d never sledded or skied all that much up there, so everything that they had hit before was new to me. It was really cool.
What did you do between Pemberton and your trip to Alaska? I went back to Utah. Whenever I’m back in Utah, I never really do any filming. Even though there is amazing terrain and production companies make trips out of it, I’m just freeriding. I just ski at the resort and with friends. It allows me to take a breather from it all. I did the Snowbird [Subaru Freeskiing World Tour] contest, and then headed out to Silverton to do Cold Rush. I ended up doing three contests this year. I don’t usually compete at all, so it was an interesting experience.
Do you see yourself getting into the competition scene? Well, I see the backcountry freestyle competition—Cold Rush and Linecatcher—as the future of competition skiing. While I’m not necessarily a competition guy, it felt good to have that experience. The motivation behind it is camaraderie. I noticed that at Linecatcher; you get to ski with a lot of people. There are so many skiers in the industry that I don’t get to ski with because of filming. If they aren’t a TGR or North Face athlete, I don’t get to ski with them when I’m filming. The main motivation for me, and I think a lot of people, was getting that camaraderie with other people. There is a huge difference between the start gate at these competitions compared to X Games halfpipe. The vibe is totally different. People don’t even talk to each other. These contests are completely different. Maybe it is because of the consequences associated, but the camaraderie is always there. Everyone is always supportive and helpful. I really dig that vibe and being apart of that.
Do backcountry freestyle competitions change how you approach filming at all? Those comps are all about putting together a run with multiple tricks off multiple features, and that motivates me when I go out filming. I look at lines differently. Rather than just try to ski a line and make it to the bottom, I’m at the top thinking about how many features I can hit. It is a different mindset. It felt really good to go back into filming after those comps.
How was Alaska this year? New location? It sounded really grim at the time. Some reports said it was the worst it had been in 40 years, and people were pulling out of their trips. We had plans to go one place, and quashed that. It is just one of those things where you just have to go. You can’t decide based off of what you hear. If you want to get it, you have to go and see what happens. It was a little bit of a challenge. I was there for five weeks, and we got nothing in the first three.
Was that because of bad weather, or lack of snow? Well, the first week we were there, it was great weather, but no fresh snow. It was just iced-over super gnarly snow conditions. We needed a storm. It stormed for two weeks straight before it broke. When the weather finally did break, we had new, unskied terrain to go explore. It made it all worth it. The reward was even greater than we expected. It seemed to be one of our more productive years in Alaska despite all the setbacks. All our hard work and patience actually paid off, and it was a huge relief.
What its like skiing in Alaska with Daron Rahlves? Daron is a super fun guy to ski with. He’s a legendary dude. I looked up to him back in his racing days when I was a ski racer. He is just a really easy-going, eager, skier. To be in the mountains with him and have that camaraderie is really cool. The fact that freeskiing stuff is newer to him and he asks me for advice is an interesting situation. It was cool to be there with him, and see him make good decisions and lay down good lines. Ian skied super well, too. He had his gnarliest year. I saw him push his skiing to a level I’ve never seen before. That isn’t really easy, you know? The level has been so high for so long that big mountain skiing has a bit of timelessness to it. You look at movies from ten years ago, and most of the lines are still pretty legit. To see the bar be raised in the big mountain scene is hard. Ian’s level of technical charging and skiing really came together this year.
Did you come into AK with a different mindset this year? I didn’t come in with expectations. I always come into a trip with hopes, and I love finding the freestyle stuff. Last year, we were lucky with the crevasse gaps that we found, so I’m always looking for that type of thing to push myself on. This year, when I was looking for the freestyle stuff, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. It didn’t really come together. What did come together was the tech-gnar. It found myself pushing farther into that technical, steep terrain that I didn’t really expect. It felt really good to push that side of my skiing.
Is that a direction you see yourself continuing in? It definitely opened my eyes a little bit. I realized I still have a bit of learning to do there still, so I foresee myself pushing that side of my skiing in the future. Even still, I’m always looking for the playful, freestyle terrain as well to balance it all out. I think skiing itself is kind of taking it as it comes, and having the terrain dictate what ends up happening. I think it is one of the coolest aspects of skiing. Just letting the inspiration come when it comes. Even if it is just at your resort skiing the same run over-and-over, there is always something different that makes it exciting. That is what I’m looking for the most, not necessarily any ideas or certain goals.