Pushing the Limits of Ski Cinematography

How 25-year-old Swiss skier Nico Vuignier lit the internet on fire with his unique and creative video projects

This interview was first published in our November 2016 issue (45.3).
PHOTO: Reudi Fluck

Professional skier, graphic designer, filmmaker, and, in his own words, “technology geek”—all encompass the essence of Nico Vuignier, the 25-year-old Swiss skier who lit the internet on fire last winter with three unique and creative video projects.

From swinging a cell phone around his head (“Centriphone,” his edit that has more than 4 million views) to skiing with road flares (“Torched”) and using black chalk to create a moody black and white park piece (“PBK1”), Vuignier’s edits are the culmination of a modern day, tech-savvy skier with a creative, visual mind let loose at his home near Crans-Montana, in the Swiss Alps. He is a self-made skier made for the selfie era.

“Not only is he an amazing skier—he’s won Red Bull Linecatcher—but he’s also a really smart and strange—in a good way—guy,” says Will Wesson, whose own creativity has been recognized by numerous movie awards. “Slopestyle competitions and skiing will start to follow the way Nico does things.” —Mike Rogge

I didn’t know freeskiing existed until I saw JP [Auclair] and the New Canadian Air Force on a German TV show that my uncle taped for me.

My dad worked for [the Swiss-based snowboard manufacturer] Nidecker for 25 years. My oldest brother was a snowboarder. As a family, we were into snowboard culture.

Skiers weren’t allowed in the park, but my brother got me in. I would follow him with my skis. My brothers would learn a 360, so then I would learn it. We pushed each other.

I was 9. It was Christmas Eve. I asked for the 1080s and I didn’t get them. So I went back to my room and jumped into my bed. My mom hid the skis under the blankets as a surprise. I was so happy about it I slept with them.

We don’t have the ski bum culture around here. A ski bum is someone who skis all the time and will do any job. I won’t do any job.
See what Vuignier is all about. Watch his artistic take on the classic ski short.

In the summer I’m a graphic designer for the Swiss Freeski Team. I do a couple other jobs like consulting my home mountain with their freestyle strategy.

I’m curious about technology. I’m sort of a geek. I love following tech and art blogs.

I think selfie edits are boring. GoPros are fun to use. Let’s think of new ways to use them.

Making these creative edits is like solving a puzzle. You have to think through the shots, try them, and see if the piece fits. Sometimes they don’t. It took me two to three years of spare time to figure out the way to swing a cell phone around me while skiing to make a cool effect.

The coolest shit in skiing is being original. It’s super hard. Trick-wise, we have plateaued. There is a video side of things where we can do more.

I’m a perfectionist and in competitions you only have one run so if you ski like shit you will never be happy. That’s not the type of skiing I wanted to show to people.

I like to watch movies. I like interesting filmmakers and stuff that’s more about story and art than what we see in Hollywood.

It’s never the same season. One year I might ski a bunch of powder and the next I might not ski any. There is always something new to do on skis.