Think about your best day in the mountains; the experiences and stories that define you as a skier. Are you picturing the terrain—steep, jagged couloirs; maybe hard and fast corduroy? Was it a storm day like no other (you swear it was waist deep) or was the sky an unholy blue? Maybe the details of what you skied, or where, or how, are fuzzy, but you can't shake the feeling you had—the feeling you shared with friends. For the six-man team behind a new film series, The Locals Project, it's the people who make the place worthwhile.
"You can go to a mountain town anywhere in the world and for the most part mountain people are very inclusive," says Jacob Oster, filmmaker and co-founder of the project. "If you seek them out, they are open to help you out and want you to have an authentic experience."
Fueled by the desire to find and tell the stories of local skiers, The Locals Project hit the road this ski season to give credence to the skiers who are the pulse of their mountain communities.
Joined by the four others in their crew, all in their early 20s, Oster and his co-founder Scott Proctor, spent eight days skiing and filming at Snowbird and Jackson Hole. Living out of a rented RV and shooting on borrowed camera equipment, they hustled to find the right stories to tell on their journey. The result is two short films, The Guru and The New Old-School.
It was at their first stop in Snowbird the crew came across Dave Powers, the self proclaimed "foremost authority on nothing and other things that don't matter." Powers has been in town for 40 years and skis six days a week at the Bird, which results in a daily snow report unlike any other.
The site itself is primitive, says Oster, but once he started reading the content he was captivated by the way Powers describes the snow and changing conditions using ethereal metaphors and analogies. The Guru that he is, Powers also avoids giving away the names of any runs and instead has his own nicknames for each part of the mountain.
In Wyoming, The Locals Project expanded to include the stories of a handful of skiers who call Jackson Hole home. The New Old-School is a 14-minute tribute to the storied history of the mountain's legendary skiers, like those in the Jackson Hole Air Force, and a new class of young skiers working to keep that same spirit alive on the mountain.
“The older guys would point out a cliff they had jumped off back in the day that the young guys were backflipping off now and they loved it. They were super stoked to see the level of progression,” says Proctor. “The community in Jackson is super special. There’s a really strong connection between the old and the new.”
A well-balanced mixture of artful pow shots, telling interviews, and historical footage that will make you nostalgic for your favorite ski posse, both films are worthy of indulging and serve as beautiful reminders that the ‘why’ of skiing is as much the who as the when and where.