By Will Eginton
Video by Josh Blatt
Ten years ago, a group of University of Vermont skiers decided to make a ski movie. Little did they know, they had started a movement. Dedicated—or limited, perhaps—to the East Coast, the film company came to symbolize the passion of a tight-knit community spanning all generations of skiers.
Last Friday, that film company, Meathead Films, in conjunction with UVM’s Ski & Snowboard Club and The Main Idea, celebrated their 10th anniversary in record fashion. In Burlington, Vt., in front of 1,000 skiers, the Meatheads’ Geoff McDonald and Chris James showcased their latest film, Prime Cut, in a double feature with The Main Idea’s debut film, Prologue.
The Main Idea’s film, the product of Galin Foley, Craig Stay and Joey Szela, showcases the next crop of athletes on the East Coast. Erme Catino and Adam Newhard demonstrate that with a bit of ingenuity, East Coast backcountry skiing can be quite rewarding. Jake Doan, who also appeared in Prime Cut, absolutely kills the Stowe park segment. However, it was Andrew Holson who stole the show. In an all-urban segment, primarily filmed early season, Holson shows that he is poised to make a mark on the film industry. While the film is short (20 minutes), Prologue is well shot and edited. It highlights the talent of an up-and-coming film company that managed to produce a quality film without a budget.
While The Main Idea movie was well worth the $5 ticket, the Meatheads’ film proved to be a cut above. With a star-studded cast of athletes, many of whom were in attendance, and (mostly) unique locations, Prime Cut did not disappoint. In typical Meathead fashion, the film spans the course of the season, documenting everything from deep powder in Japan to springtime bumps in Killington.
The film features quite possibly the best powder segments the Meatheads have produced. Simon Thompson and Andrew Whiteford (a former UVMSSC officer) make their triumphant return and absolutely demolish the Chic Chocs. In their return to the “Far East,” the crew of Chris Logan, Dan Marion, and Sean Decker get characteristically deep in the fluffy stuff of the Niseko region. Chris Logan, most notably known for his park skiing, demonstrates his well roundedness in effortlessly demolishing pillow lines and B.C. jumps alike.
Antoine Choquette dominates the East Coast park scene, leaving everyone wondering, “Who the hell is this guy?” and the jump shoot at Killington highlights the up-and-comers. The Gagnier brothers, Charles and Vincent, built high consequence urban features around Quebec that elicited a great response from the premiere night crowd. L.J. Strenio, in his typical whirlwind fashion, closes out the movie with an all-Burlington urban segment. His double-cork 12 over the iconic Whale’s Tales left everyone stoked and cheering for more.
Yet the response to LJ’s closing segment was not the loudest. The night belonged to Ryan Hawks, who tragically passed away competing on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour last winter. Hawks and the Chickering-Ayers Brothers fluidly attack the East Coast backcountry, demonstrating why they have become such a force on the Freeskiing World Tour.
Skiing aside, Ryan Hawks undoubtedly left his mark. He truly embodied what it meant to be a skier and a person. As his father, also the founder of the Flyin’ Ryan Foundation, noted in a touching speech before the film, Ryan was a special individual. “My son crafted for himself a set of principles to live by, so we didn’t have to do the thinking,” Peter Hawks said. “Ryan lived his life in a manner we all should aspire to achieve.”
The night ultimately was a celebration rather than a movie premiere. It was a chance to reflect on the storied 10 years of Meathead Films, the life of a great man in Hawks, and the tight-knit community that makes its shared passion as wonderful as it is. “Grind it out,” said Chris James, co-founder of Meatheads, as the crowd filed out of the ballroom. “Keep doing what you do, and keep the shred alive.”
Trailer: ‘Prime Cut,’ by Meathead Films—