By Ryan Dunfee
After a few back-to-back seasons of record-breaking snowfalls and trend-defying storm cycles, 2012 has been about confronting record periods of high pressure, rain, April temps and instability in the backcountry. That is of course unless you live in Alaska, Europe, or Japan. Film crews have been a special victim of this slow season, used to being in heart of the epic at all times, but instead have sat around on their hands or played Words with Friends with TGR’s Todd Jones. Unless your name is Klaus and you live in St. Anton, there's hardly been a faceshot to be found within five hundred miles. But this elitist ski industry, satisfied only when the powder is up to your nose and the martinis are free, is passing up a huge opportunity. After year after year of epic powder, blower heli trips, and manicured giants known as park jumps, don't you think the skiing public is getting a little tired of the epic?
In an effort to save the possibility for skiing to continue to be rad into the future, I say the only way for skiing to move forward… is to get worse. If the past ten years, ski films have been about the Steep, the Deep, and the Epic, this next era of ski filmmaking, it's going to be about the Sketchy, the Shitty, and the Awful. After exploring what humans can do in the best conditions – the groomed 90-footer at Breck, the 3,000 feet of blower pow in AK—it's time to explore what they can do in the worst conditions. Instead of ruing the current lack of snow, film crews should be running around the country bagging shots in these barebones early-season-like conditions. Snowbird's only got half the base it had a year ago? Sounds like it's time to rally the crew and film some epic turns on the death ice and scrabble of Mount Superior. A late January thaw in New England? Level 1 should wait until the rain turns the park landings to bare grass, and then head out for a sunset shoot.
While ski mountaineers have been happening upon unbearable conditions for decades, it's time to make them the main focus. Unofficial Networks seems to cover every aspect of skiing, yet there's not been one video of anyone attempting to shred the fifteen inches of refrozen covering the Fingers. Where are these legendary gnarbarians of Squaw, who will murder for first chair on K.T. at 6:00 am yet are nowhere to be seen when the base depth is at historical lows? Is that not challenging enough for your ego, sirs?
Red Bull Cold Rush? Yeah, I'd probably throw a 360 off a 70-footer too if I knew the landing was San Juan blower. But if Red Bull is as serious about pushing the sport as they claim to be, let's make a last-minute reshuffle of the 2012 Cold Rush venues. Cliff venue? That'd be the fronstide of Hunter Mountain, New York, during February vacation when the thirty foot cliff band will be guaranteed to have little more than eight inches of "frozen granular" for a base. For the big mountain venue? Try Jay Peak's Tram Face after a solid rain-freeze cycle. We'll of course need a waiting period with some weather days. In case it actually snows or “wintery mixes.”
However, kudos have to be given to the few people still holding it down during these tough times. It should come as no surprise that the Meatheads crew, skiing's most experience crew in shitty conditions, has been bagging shots left and right with no snow. Rumor is they just bagged the ender for next year's film, Witty Meat Analogy, at a pile of dry rocks near New Haven, Connecticut. The whispers are of LJ Strenio (pre-injury) stomping a switch right double 1260 tail-to-mute to dirt.