On Saturday evening, over 1,000 people gathered at the base of KT-22 at Squaw Valley for the world premiere of 4FRNT Media's CRJ: The Chronicle of a Freeskiing Icon.
A C.R.J. lion, a logo that has become synonymous with both C.R. Johnson's legacy and the Truckee-based C.R. Johnson Healing Center, was largely projected onto the tram face. Members of Johnson's family, as well as longtime friends Tanner Hall and Mike Laroche, shared in the camaraderie as the North Lake Tahoe community celebrated the extraordinary life of one of their own. As the sun set and a raffle of prizes from the likes of 4FRNT and Smith Optics were doled out, the outdoor projector rattled the opening frames of the film.
The documentary runs a lean 30 minutes, an impressive feat considering the large body of work Johnson filmed as a professional skier. Compiled with archival footage from Inspired Media Concepts, Teton Gravity Research, Level 1, Poor Boyz and more, the film is a year-by-year chronicle of the late-Johnson's life. More than once, the crowd roared as images of their youth splashed against the outdoor screen. A cold chill in the air reminding everyone that winter is quickly approaching.
"I was pleased with the community's outpour of support," says Matt Sterbenz, founder of 4FRNT, a good friend of Johnson's, and the executive producer of the film. "I wasn't surprised. I know he left a lasting impact on the people that live there."
Sterbenz went on to say the largest driving factor of the documentary was based on the time that has lapsed since Johnson's death. "His [pro model] ski is entering the market for the last time. You have the entire scuttle going on the Internet about what's happening to the base of the sport," says Sterbenz. "He's not thought or spoken of as much as he was and we wanted to resurrect that."
CRJ will premiere alongside Poor Boyz tour stops, a Level 1 premiere in Seattle, an overseas show in Munich, and a show in Boston. The film will be released in DVD form with a purchase of a pair of 4FRNT C.R.J. skis. A worldwide Internet release is scheduled for the United States' Thanksgiving holiday on November 28.
The following morning after the premiere, members of the High Fives Foundation—the Truckee nonprofit that operates the C.R.J. Healing Center—hosted their annual bocce tournament at Truckee River Winery. Forty teams entered, including one fielded by Fylow Gear's Dan Abrams and me, and the top 20 teams took home prizes. Throughout the day and in the sunshine, over 80 people tossed the Italian balls in the air, hoping to win myriad prizes and sipping beer and wine while football scores were relayed over a microphone.
"It keeps getting better," says Roy Tuscany, founder of High Fives. "This was our fifth year and I'm already looking forward to next year and what new element we can add to make it successful and fun."
Taking the top spot was Team Pablo’s Gallery. The duo of Paul Karls and Mark Seppi took home great prizes, including two GoPro Hero3 Black Editions and two Squaw/Alpine Gold Season Passes. In total, the event raised close to $8,000 for the nonprofit that helps athletes that suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing a dream in winter sports.
It was a weekend of reflection and positivity, something this community is becoming more and more known for. The film made us look back, the bocce tournament made us feel present, and the chill in the air has us looking towards winter.