Snowbird: A Soulful Powder Dance

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Overview

Experience uninhibited excitement and freedom during a 2,700-foot vertical freestyle ski descent of Snowbird, Utah’s Hidden Peak filmed from fallaway-angle P.O.V. and accompanied by Chris Shards’ surfer tune, “Between the Waves”. Reveal-style P.O.V. filming is practically unique in ski cinema (it definitely was when the original video was shot during the spring of 2011), and it highlights the winter scenery of the Wasatch Mountains and famous Utah powder with slashing effects directly backlit by the sun. The diametric filming shift also supports the retrospective nature of the project: Instead of seeing the future rush toward the viewer, watch the past recede just as quickly (and far more poignantly) as the skier descends literally and metaphorically ever lower from the summit. Artistic merit is achieved due to the extreme technical difficulties of clearly capturing dangerous, free-skiing shots at high speeds under severe environmental conditions–and the fact that each turn through virgin powder is unique and ephemeral. Further distinguishing the film: A single chronological, uninterrupted ski run was the basis for the entire video, instead of a mixed montage typical of the majority of ski films. The video runs entirely in real-time with no editing of speed or any other added artificial effects–also unusual for ski films. The music plays in un-modified, original form with no editing–and it was not even composed until years after the video was shot during Snowbird’s best day of its official (and still-record) greatest season by snow depth of 2010-2011.
The melodramatic surfing music was specifically selected for several reasons: many surfers also ski/snowboard; the natural cadence of the ski run mimics the swells in the ocean; the featured big-mountain skiing style of large, aggressive turns resembles surfing nearly as much as alpine skiing; Snowbird features an iconic run name “Pipeline” (visible during a considerable portion of the film, and also featured prominently in the poster), which is also the name of the most famous surf-break in the world (in Oahu, HI); surfing music is rarely used in skiing videos, although the rhythms and lifestyles of those sports are essentially similar; mountain peaks resemble waves in the ocean, and are often compared with such in poetry, religion, and literature; and the name and tone of the composition, “Between the Waves” reflects the throwback nature of the film and bittersweet life of the vagabond surfer/ski-bum as he awaits the intermittent swells of summer (and alternately, the storms of winter).

Director – Kyle B Wagstaff

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