Born in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Canmore, Alberta, Eric Hjorleifson is not the in-your-face character that most people would equate with being a professional skier. Always more comfortable behind a workbench than a camera, Hjorleifson quietly became one of the biggest influencers in backcountry gear over the past decade. A project started by longtime friend and Matchstick Productions director Scott Gaffney, ‘Hoji’ pulls back the curtain on the man behind one of the most recognizable nicknames in skiing.
A perfect blend of clips from this past winter, old Hjorleifson family videos, interviews with family and friends, and stacks of old MSP footage, ‘Hoji’ gives an intimate look into the skier’s illustrious life and career. From his early racing days as a child to scoring sponsorships and film segments, Hoji has certainly kept busy, all while maintaining a fairly low profile.
While watching Hjorleifson’s diverse set of skills on a pair of skis, I caught myself more than once throughout the film forgetting that 95 percent of the insane lines being hucked on screen were all done by just one guy. While some athletes may struggle to pull together enough quality footage to put together even a single segment for a film, it was clear that Gaffney and his team at MSP could have easily put together an eight-hour film just with the amount of high-quality clips Hoji has collected over his career.
And while his on-snow talent in the backcountry is second to none, it's Hoji's love of tinkering that makes him who he is as a skier. According to friends and family, Hoji was never quite satisfied with the performance of his ski gear, spending hours of his time in the garage altering and adjusting his boots, bindings, and skis in order for them to work exactly how he wanted. It was this constant desire for innovation that made Hoji such a great fit at companies like 4FRNT and Dynafit, where he has helped design his own pro model skis and boot to handle his favorite kind of skiing: heavy backcountry lines.
Big-mountain prowess and engineering abilities aside, what makes Hoji such a lovable character is his unabashed humility. Filming for the movie, Hoji took a collection of close family and friends on a backcountry hut trip with Golden Alpine Holidays in gorgeous British Columbia. While others were clogging their Instagrams and other social media feeds with photos, Hoji admits he only posted once or twice during their entire time there. In reality, he hadn't posted a single thing—simply being in the mountains surrounded by friends was all he really needed.
As we start our descent into another best season of the year, let's all take a page from Hoji's book: just go skiing.