Kyle Decker and Tom Wallisch agreed to give POWDER Senior Correspondent Mike Rogge an advanced, private viewing of The Wallisch Project. Rogge was given an afternoon to watch the short and write this review. The Wallisch Project is available on iTunes on August 27, 2013.
The Wallisch Project weighs in at 7 minutes and 29 seconds. That is a staggering amount of shots, when figuring the average ski segment runs under four minutes. More often than not, multiple athletes sharing the song. Wallisch's single is set to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and an instrumental performed by Visioneers. Kyle Decker prefers this style of music to the hip hop he's known to use for edits.
Pressing play, a group of four city children welcome you to The Wallisch Project. Three, two, one…hello, world. What follows is a title sequence, little lifestyle, no talking, plenty of large features, a few creative tricks, heavy hitting backcountry jumps, and Wallisch gaining entry to an exclusive club where only a handful of snow sports athletes have a membership. (Bobby Brown and Sammy Carlson are in there too.) Wallisch still has one of the deeper bags of tricks in the game, on full display for trick-heads dissecting every nuance of motion like a biology experiment.
Wallisch wants you to know that this project was made during the winter that everything changed for him. He is on the Olympic radar now, sliding handrails in Times Square for Matt Lauer and Al Roker. The I.O.C. knows his activity and his sponsors are riding high on the hope he'll not only make the American Winter Olympic team, but also be the blue-collar face of American winter athletics, maybe the global one too. If Wallisch wins, it stands to be profitable, which makes this endeavor all the more interesting.
The risk is medium because it’s a proven format by, you guessed it, a skateboarder. Years ago, Nyjah Huston, then known as one the most gifted competitive skateboarders in arguably forever, dropped "Rise & Shine" on iTunes, his solo-skate-segment single. Huston's aim was to show that he was more than a skate jock, and that he could go out on the street and get it done there too. And he did, shocking the skate world and raising the credibility of his personal brand.
Meanwhile, Wallisch is at the top of the skiing world. We know he has the chops in the streets and out of the competition circuit. Though he may have been more focused on the latter in recent years, let this 7 minutes and 29 seconds remind us all that while his head is in the Olympic game, his heart is in front of a camera, with a small group. This is his single. And he's playing it for us so that it will blow our freaking minds. He and Kyle Decker have altered the way we'll view ski segments in the future.
Make no mistake about it: If Wallisch were to get injured during the filming of T.W.P. and not make the team, his street cred would only increase thus raising the profile of his brand. But he'd also have a lot of missed opportunities and people in high places disappointed that he, in their eyes, squandered an Olympic opportunity to make a vanity project. The fact that he didn't and his segment is so good—easily an early favorite to win Male Skier of the Year at POWDER Awards—shows both his confidence and skill level are at an all time high. This project will also be one of the last times Wallisch can dedicate this amount of time and effort to filming. With an Olympic win, everything changes.