When 24-year-old Clayton Vila released his latest urban ski film, “For Lack of Better,” the ski industry took notice. The 45-minute film, which has been nominated for Best Documentary and Movie of the Year in this year’s Powder Awards, features Vila, Cam Riley, and Sean Jordan tearing through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Quebec on every railing, stairway, bridge, parking garage—anything metal, concrete, and (sometimes) snowy.
To stand apart from the majority of urban ski flicks, Vila and company went the extra mile to include a narrative element that explains why they do what they do. Their insight coupled with intense urban action is a fresh contribution to the ski movie genre. POWDER Senior Correspondent Mike Rogge said the film’s ability to pass on a story is the first page of urban skiing’s own chapter in skiing’s illustrious history book.
Perhaps more notably it garnered the attention of mainstream media when the Boston Globe featured the trio and their film in the sports section November 16.
“It isn’t easy to stand out in the crowded field of skiing movies, but Clayton Vila has done it,” wrote staff writer Matt Pepin. “It’s true there are countless urban skiing videos to be found, but Vila’s distinguishes itself because of the compelling narrative that accompanies the action.”
Pepin went on to address how uncomfortable watching the film can be, as the skiers suffer serious injuries during risky attempts to find a ski line within a city’s architecture. For example, Pepin calls out Riley’s more than 100 consecutive—and frustrating—attempts to hit a stair rail in Providence. Then, on attempt No. 132, he nails it; a triumphant example of the determination, focus, sheer willpower, and mild insanity these skiers manifest. It’s no wonder people are taking notice.
“It revolves around the word better. You watch us hit these rails over and over and over again just trying to get it better. Sometimes we even land it, but we want to get it better,” Vila told the Globe. “So for lack of better, this is us.”