Almost Ablaze: Teton Gravity Research Film Screening

Posted September 18, 2014 in ,
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A cast of the highest caliber snow athletes gathered at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheater for a screening of Teton Gravity Research’s latest film, Almost Ablaze. Photo: Sean Zimmerman-Wall

The desert wind blows through the Red Butte Garden Amphitheater and carries mellow vibes across the gathering crowd. Guitar rifts usher in the evening air as we find our seats on the front row and settle in for the show. As the last rays of light turn the foothills a deep shade of purple, the curtain raises and the night’s performers step on stage. Clad in street clothes, local hero Tim Durtschi presents the latest offering from perennial favorite Teton Gravity Research (TGR). Durtschi is joined by a cast of the highest caliber snow athletes on the planet and they get the audience pumped for the film. A no-holds-barred product toss ensues as the stoke level rises.

Opening up the film is lead female skier Angel Collinson. Perched atop a pristine Alaskan peak, she secures her pack and drops into thin air. The next 3,000 vertical are a high-speed smoke show as she rips the icy face to pieces. “I was on my toes a little more than usual up there,” said Collinson. “I just tried to ski as fast as I could and really give ‘er.” This is the first time in TGR history that a woman has been given the opening segment, and she is just the gal to do it.

Next up, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa takes us on a psychedelic journey across blankets of powder. Utilizing a projector, Cattabriga-Alosa sets up a night shoot that displays colorful imagery onto his snow covered canvas. The resulting cinema is incredibly entertaining to watch, as each fat flake dances across the color spectrum. A one-of-a-kind scene from a one-of-a-kind skier.

The film then transitions into more lighthearted ski porn, as Todd Ligare and Griffon Post go to trenchtown at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Snorkel-deep fluff billows up all around them as they careen down gladed hillsides, laughing the entire way. The action continues as the crews globe trot across the pond to the Italian Alps. A 100-year storm meets their arrival and entire towns are buried in blower. Once the storm abates, they are treated to a private ski area where they have to tunnel through towering snowbanks just to get out of the tram. A unique setting for these veterans to set it off. Boundless open bowls and steep coulouirs serve as their playground as they ride to and from objectives. These serene scenes allow the crowd to live vicariously through their ski idols and I can almost feel the cold powder hitting my face.

To bring us back to reality, the movie takes us to the menacing faces of Mt. Moran in Wyoming. This behemoth situated on the north end of the Tetons provides an aesthetic venue for the crew to ply their craft. Collinson and Post are joined by Max Hammer to triple team the three biggest lines at their disposal. It is clear that these riders are at the top of their game and aren’t afraid to earn their turns. Each night they camp in freezing temperatures and each morning they ascend nearly 5,000 feet to achieve the summits. Judging by the epic footage, it’s worth every step.

A highlight of the film is a segment staring up and coming rider Nick McNutt. Pulled from the TGR Co-Lab competition last season, McNutt proves his metal by stomping endless pillow lines. His propensity to land switch intrigues his fellow riders as much as the movie goers. If he can stay healthy, this kid will be the future of big mountain skiing.

The remainder of the film bounces back and forth between locations like La Grave, France, and Sarajevo, Bosnia, while highlighting the talents of Ian McIntosh, Johnny Collinson and Olympic Gold Medalist Joss Christensen. From the war torn remnants of former Olympic venues, to the loneliest peaks of the French Alps, the stunning cinematography captures the essence of skiing and reminds all of us why we put up with seemingly endless hot summers. In all, the film left me grinning ear to ear, waiting for the first signs of winter to appear.

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