Leo Ahrens soaring above the Chilean flag at Eye of the Condor. Photo: Juan Luis Heeckeren
While I normally spend my summers sucking down slurpees at the Rose Park Skate Park, this year was different. I packed my bags and followed winter around the globe to La Parva, Chile to organize a new international ski event, Eye of the Condor (eyeofthecondor.com). This is where I first met the young Salt Lake crew known as the DubSatch Collective.
A lanky and slightly nervous 18-year-old named Leo Ahrens walked up to me and muttered, “Umm … Mike, our crew has a little bit of a problem here.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked, hoping that none of the team members had come down with a nasty case of syphilis—STD medication can be very expensive in the Andes.
“Our photographer could not make it due to full flights, our videographer is in pursuit of more money, but bottom line is none of them made it here with us.”
I stopped for a minute in a moment of contemplation. Usually when a team shows up to a photo and video contest, they bring two key elements: a photographer and a videographer. Unfortunately for the DubSatch Collective, they had neither. I knew of these guys, had emailed a bit and seen some of them skiing in the Junior Freeskiing Tour events at Snowbird and Crested Butte, but I really had no idea what they were capable of until the group of DubSatch-ers comprised of Ahrens, Carston Oliver, Zach Halverson, Eliel Hindert and Chilean photographer Juan Luis de Heeckeren took first place in both the video and photography categories at Eye of the Condor.
The founding members of the crew are Sam Cohen, Nate Cahoon and Ahrens, all SLC natives with parents who dreamed of having their kids one day enjoy the snow as they did. The past few seasons proved to be monumental for these guys. For years they have been the little kids building jumps off of Wildcat at Alta. As time went on, people started to realize that these kids had the best lines, built the best jumps and appeared to be having the most fun, so people started to follow them around. The DubSatch Collective grew with more members since their inception in 2009, and with their latest web videos, competition results and print coverage, the world is finally getting to see the latest talent that the Wasatch has cultivated. I was able to track these guys down and ask them some questions about SLC, the crew and what happens when you show you up to a film contest with no filmer.
SLUG: Big or Little Cottonwood?
Ahrens: Pretty much everyone that is part of Dub was raised up Highway 210. LCC [Little Cottonwood Canyon] for life!
SLUG: What is it like growing up amid such a strong ski scene here in the Wasatch?
Ahrens: We are incredibly lucky to be raised in such an amazing community. Our parents all work in LCC and I think that set our destiny before we were even born. The amount of talent in SLC is insane, and at a young age, local legends such as Dave McReynolds and Rob Greener took us under their wing and showed us the light. It’s cool now, because on any given day, you’ll be out skiing with guys you grew up watching in ski movies as a kid.
Cohen: I was always around the ski industry as a young kid. My pops [famed photographer Lee Cohen] used to shoot all of the locals who I would look up to, and getting to ski with them growing up really helped shape me as a skier.
SLUG: How did the DubSatch Collective come about? Why not just focus on yourselves as individuals?
Cahoon: I guess it all started when Leo and Sam started filming in 2009 around Alta with their GoPros and called their videos Livin’ Local. After a while, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a camera and film the madness these kids were throwing down. We all got together and decided we wanted to film something that the ski industry hasn’t seen yet: A crew of young, big-mountain skiers showing their love of the backcountry and what it is like growing up skiing the “greatest snow on earth.” All we needed was a new name. Our good friend Sean Don came up with the name DubSatch Collective, and the rest is history.
SLUG: In the past two years, the crew has been gaining momentum and obtaining attention. Gracing the pages of Powder Magazine’s “Barely Legal” list, winning freeskiing events and straight-up crushing web videos. What has this done for the crew?
Cohen: With all the exposure you are talking about, it has really helped DubSatch land new sponsors and meet more people who are taking an interest in DubSatch and wanting to help us make it happen. I could say the same thing for myself. More exposure has helped me gain new sponsors and get people involved who want to help me make it happen as well.
SLUG: With the Internet today, we are constantly bombarded with new edits, ski movies year after year, new tricks, but generally the same format. How is the DubSatch’s new web series going to stand apart from the rest?
Cahoon: We want to give more perspective on how much effort and serious danger is involved in getting these backcountry shots, along with taking our viewers with us as we travel around the nation. We ultimately want to make our viewers feel what we feel when we are out traveling around these desolate places. Documenting all the stoke, struggles and success we encounter along the way.
SLUG: This summer the Collective had what I believe to be a monumental trip for the crew. You guys came down to South America and entered a photo and video event with neither a videographer nor a photographer, and somehow won both disciplines. How the hell did that happen?
Ahrens: Yeah, everything kind of hit the fan two weeks before the contest, but we were already in South America so we had to make something happen. We ended up finding some local guys who claimed to be good at photography and filming, but we had no idea if they actually were. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened. With the help of those two, I swear the whole country of Chile backed our team! We ended up making all these crazy connections and produced some amazing photos and video.
SLUG: Word on the street is that DubSatch has some new product collaborations with some SLC companies this winter …
Ahrens: Yeah, yeah! As of right now we have two collabs in the works that we are super excited about! First off, DubSatch Collective is teaming up with Wasatch-based company, The Levitation Project [thelevitationproject.com], to produce a high-quality webisode series that we hope will make waves in the industry! [The Levitation Project] will also be helping us put out T-shirts, hoodies and facemasks for the 2011/12 season. We are also teaming up with another Wasatch-based company, Joystick Poles [joystickskiing.com]. Our crew worked with the Joystick designer to create a really cool looking Dub/Joy ski pole that will make you a way better skier and get you more chicks!
Salt Lake City is a mecca for the snow community worldwide. It’s this community that was able to raise these youngsters to be some of the top skiers today. The saying that it takes a village to raise a child cannot be more fitting for this crew. Since Cahoon, Ahrens and Cohen formed the crew, they have been incorporating their friends into the Collective to show the world what the Wasatch youth can bring to the table. To be raised here and have Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons as your playground can only mean one thing: You’re going to grow up to fucking crush it—and these guys do. Follow them at facebook.com/DubSatchcollective.