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Deathwish Ski Movies?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Last night I saw a remarkable ski movie in London: High Society, which I gather is the 9th movie made by Matchstick Productions.
The film almost entirely repaced narration with surely the loudest music soundtrack ever dubbed on to a ski film, coupled with the most dangerous skiing I've ever seen. It made Warren Miller and Blizzard of Aaahs look like tea parties.
Terrifying stunt freeriding culminated with guys doing huge airborne flips on snowmobiles, jumping a house with these machines, huge (and I mean huge) ski jumping across rivers and populated ski trails, rail-riding next to concrete steps and road surfaces, and other madness that could induce serious injury.
But the most hazardous stuff by far was the high-speed extreme skiing within feet of rocks, big rocky cliffs, skiers being chased by their own avalanches and other crazy stuff.
I don't know how much of this is calculated and how much is sheer brainless bravado.
It left me mesmerised and impressed, but a bit uncomfortable as to my part in encouraging its making.
The sponsors and distributors of the movie were so keen to have an audience they handed out free tickets and preceded the movie with a free prize draw to win skis etc.
But I wondered what I was actually there for. I wondered how many deaths and serious injuries occur in the making of these movies, and whether we - as a ski community -can really justify this?
Is there an ethical limit to 'death-wish' movie making, and have we reached it yet?
post #2 of 41
Contact the American Civil Liberties Union c/o Herman @ epic...

Actually, fools will be fools. Who cares?
post #3 of 41
That is not a "death wish" that is skiing.
It is a great example of how far this great sport has progressed in the past 5 years or so.
Lines that were considered unskiable a few years back are now being done in 2000 vertical ft straightlines, people are doing double backs over 145 foot gaps in the backcountry, and sliding 50ft double kinked handrails in urban settings.
The people who are doing these things are not mindless fools...they are some of the best athletes on the face of this planet with years of experience, and are accompanied by professional guides who know their business. Injuries are inevitable, but the athletes know this before they attempt any of these things...and they do it because it is their passion, not for the cameras. These guys were doing it before there were cameras on them, and would continue to do it whether they aere being filmed or not. To many people skiing is about pushing limits and doing things noone has done before, while for others it is a way to get outside and relax and cruise around. Either way you look at it, its the greatest sport in the world.
post #4 of 41
Two years ago, I was stuck in the wedge, and afraid to get off the blues. Now, thanks the TGR and Matchstick like productions, I'm straightlining 5,000 foot 60 degree faces switch.
post #5 of 41

Actually, hucking backflips over 145 foot gaps is not skiing. Riding rails is not skiing. Much like training on the trampoline with skis on your feet is not skiing. Just like diving off 100 foot rock cliffs is not swimming. I find that too many ski movies are striving to show us stunts that are beyond imagination. It is nice to see a few, but after a while jumps become boring, the park/pipe becomes boring and the rails are the ultimate in boring. Watch Propaganda to see what I mean.

Do you have any idea of the number of injuries that these so called "best athletes on the face of the planet" have every year? Many of them cannot go through a season without a serious injury that requires surgery. Many of them have multiple knee surgeries, hip surgeries, broken bones, etc that have been accumulated over the years. And of course, some unfortunate ones lose their lives doing this. A recent magazine article in Ski or Skiing described how many of the stunts are 30% skill and 70% luck. You never see the screw ups in the movies, but there are plenty of them. And in fact most skiers admit that in front of the camera they do take greater risks. Sure these guys are great athletes, but many of the stunts have zero margin for error. The smallest screw up can end their season.

The industry is kidding itself thinking that the future is in this type of new school "skiing". Unfortunately the sheer difficulty of the new school stunts and the risks associated with them will ensure that such skiing will attract 1% of the skiing population. The rest will never have the skill, the guts or the stupidity to try any of this stuff.
post #6 of 41
This debate has occurred among mtn bikers regarding extreme freeriding and one particular rider named Josh Bender, who also stars in Matchstick movies. Bender is famous for doing huge hucks on a custom mtn bike designed just for him doing such giant hucks. The bike has 13" travel and is the closest thing to a engineless motocross cycle I've ever seen. Mtn bikers continue to debate whether Bender is pushing the riding envelope, or simply is a stunt man. I think he's the latter.

What happens with these super-extreme stunts is that they become a lot more focused on courage/idiocy/fearlessness/apathy-to-pain etc and a lot less focused on skill. The scale always is sliding, and what was "extreme" 5 years ago is commonplace now.

one of our own Bears posted above, our friend who "freeskis" in New England (yeah, right), with the point that this movement toward deadly stunts is helping skiing. I submit that to be the viewpoint of someone who hasn't yet hit the mindset of someone in his/her 30s, with a realization that crashes can hurt, BADLY, and the pain increases with the severity/extremity of the activity in question. IMHO, once a person reaches that level of maturity, he/she would have to be an idiot to continue risking serious injury merely for the glory of "pushing the boundary." One can be a stunt man, one can be a skier, one can be both.

The real skiing skill comes from SKIING extreme terrain, not hucking it. Giant hucks & stunts are more a matter of sticking the landing than they are a matter of skiing skill. Of course, one must have skiing skill to get to the the hucking spot and to ski out of a landing properly stuck, but the emphasis isn't on those two acts, it's on the huck.

No doubt, the photos & movies of those huge hucks & stunts are impressive. They leave me in awe and wonder.

The "wonder" part shifts my focus to whether these people doing the stunts have much of a life. SERIOUSLY. If someone has to do something that is that dangerous in order to get a feeling of liveliness, then his/her life is completely devoid of meaning.

Have you ever thought of that, rightcoastfreeskier?

I'm with TomB. Extreme stunts aren't about skiing, they're about being a stunt man. When being a stunt man is proven to be more athletic than apathetic, I'll reconsider my point of view, but not until then.

We now return you to your empty life that requires injections of mortal acts in order to remind you that you are alive... already in progress
post #7 of 41
Stunts are cool. It's like watching a Jackie Chan movie.

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
post #8 of 41
"Completely devoid of meaning"? Damn, now THAT'S a summary judgment.
post #9 of 41
The videos have become blood sport. No longer are they filming skiers & boarders doing their normal routine, but they are actually participating in increasing the risk. The video production companies are paying to fly riders to more remote & dangerous terrain. They are building monster jumps over bigger & bigger chasms. The riders know they need to take bigger risks in order to get filmed.

I worry about the generation of skiers & boarders that have grown up with this culture. The videos, video games, X-Games, MTV tie-ins, 'No Fear' gear, etc. is ingraining in them a distorted view of the risks & consequences involved in these stunts. I've seen too many young boarders & skiers hucking off cliffs that haven't mastered the basic skills to be able to land the jump (during which I learned a new term for someone bouncing down the slope - 'tumbler'). They have no perception that they can be permanently injured & how miserable their injuries will make the rest of their lives.

I've skied with Josh Binder. His mindset skiing on his monoski is the same as his mindset on his mountain bike. Setting freefall records is his only goal & all other aspects of the sport are ignored. He is definitely a stuntman pushing stunts to new limits, not someone pushing the sport to new limits.
post #10 of 41
I love hardcore ski movies with guys hucking big-time cliffs with an element of danger! No that is not what skiing is all about, skiing is about skiing, the turns, the snow, the mountains, the fresh air... (why I ski) However, these movie makers are making these films to make money, and hucking big cliffs, outrunning sluffs sells tickets! I consider myself a very good skier, however, the guys (and girls) on these flicks are better than I ever hope to be. This is one reason why I like to watch these movies, I like seeing people do things that I do, but better. I enjoy the skiing parts as much as the hucking parts. The Warren Miller movies were fun, but the newer TGR style films are a welcome change in my video library.

To Matchstick and TGR I say; Keep 'em coming!
post #11 of 41
Gonz, Tom:

I agree that hucking cliff doesn't make one a great skier nor does it constitute skiing. But what about the "2000 foot straightline" that Right speaks of or some of the chutes and cliff bands that Micah Black skis in Owen's posts?

There needs to be a distinction between difficult terrain with potential risks and a death-wish in some of the things that Dave's post is about. I ski lots of places where a fall would mean a tumble off of a cliff. At Whistler-Blackcomb the entrance to Diamond Bowl is a steep but easy open field, IF you fell there it is probable that you would slide over a 40 ft cliff into the Bowl itself. That doesn't mean people are crazy or stupid to ski there, I can think of three or four other places that have a similar description at WB.

Dave complains about people skiing within "feet of rocks". I enjoy the challenge of skiing tightish chutes. I don't have a death wish, but I am interested in improving as a skier. Gonz, in an earlier unrelated post, said something to the effect that incremental improvements and increase in difficulty of terrain are the way to gain confidence and overcome fear. That is why I ski tight chutes and/or bowls with entries that, in theory, could cause me bodily harm.

I am glad that we have gotten away from the typical Warren Miller stuff of 5 years ago where powder 8's were as "extreme" as it got. I always looked at some of those lines on his movies and thought to myself that the guy should be skiing 50 mph and doing 6 turns as opposed to the 60 turns that they were doing.

Extreme skiing has helped the sport. Hell, a few years ago Doug Coombs was getting his pass revoked for skiing places that are now open at Jackson Hole.
post #12 of 41
This whole discussion reminds me of skiing with a guy on a powder day 15 years ago who said "Don't you want to take pictures of me jumping off a 65 ft cliff?" and I told him "no, I want to go ski...". He was somewhat dismayed, especially when he found he was dragging butt trying to keep up on the first run. He blew his knee out at the top of the second run and spent the rest of the weekend drinking.

I share the concerns of those who believe underskilled skiers and boarders will see these movies and decide they should jump straight to the stunts. Reminds me of the early days of aerial competitions when several underskilled competitors were severely injured.
post #13 of 41
I've mentioned this before, but its REALLY weird when ASC shows this sort of video to first time skiers, right before the lesson. Kind of makes want to take up...er, nevermind! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #14 of 41
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ryan:
"Completely devoid of meaning"? Damn, now THAT'S a summary judgment.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

but remember the first half of the sentence, Ryan. :
post #15 of 41

gonz said The real skiing skill comes from SKIING extreme terrain, not hucking it. Giant hucks & stunts are more a matter of sticking the landing than they are a matter of skiing skill. Of course, one must have skiing skill to get to the hucking spot and to ski out of a landing properly stuck, but the emphasis isn't on those two acts, it's on the huck.

As you can see, gonz (or I) don't have anything against off-piste, extreme skiing. We expressed a concern for stunts with skis attached to feet. We expressed concern for stunts that have high risk and zero room for error. That is all.
post #16 of 41
Gonzo = Rule 56
post #17 of 41
Counsel, do you wish to serve upon me a Notice of Appeal?

post #18 of 41
I may be sick and twisted cuz I find it refreshing to see the crashes and wipeouts.

Not that I want Faces of Death but these people are not mortal nor free from screwing up or simply running out of luck. Show the truth! To get to the point where someone can do this stuff with seeming aplomb how many serious crashes occurred or how many got hurt or died before reaching that point in their abilities?! Probably quite a few.

If I was putting together a film like this I'd run the credits over the pain scenes that went wrong. It demonstrates even more how dangerous the moves are as well as the terrain, and it would help illustrate the skill and/or luck of the athletes.
post #19 of 41
Read the last line of my original post...something like skiing means different things to different people, and everyone should respect that. Some 15 year old kids arent into cruising groomers, and would rather hang out in a park, slide rails and hit jumps...i personally am not one of those kids. Oh yeah...and Gonzo, there are places to freeride in New england, if you know where to look believe me...and my skiing is not only limited to the east coast. i will be the first to admit that sliding a rail, or hucking a big gap isnt what a lot of people consider skiing, but it does take skill, im sorry. I dont think that being able to do so makes for a great all arouns skier, but a lot of those guys do rip big mountain lines too. Take for example Chris Collins. First of all, this kid is not doing it for the $$$, i dont know how much he made last year, but i bet its a lot less than a lot of people on this board, he does it for his love of this sport.
He throws some rediculous tricks, but his skiing is by no means limited to jumping, if you watch some of the backcountry and in bounds lines he SKIS in Utah, you will be impressed, very solid form and great style. Another person with a "death wish"as you say. Jeremy Nobis...sound familiar? Yeah,former World Cupper and Olympian...no talent right? He is now one of the biggest names in the ski film industry because he took his amazing talents out of the race course and to the big mountains. In the past few years this amazing athlete, along with many others, has redefined big mountain skiing.
I am also very well aware of the consequences of this style of skiing, and so are the men and women who make a living doing it. I agree, and i have read, that i believe as many as 1 out of 3 pro freeskiers will have a season ending injury any year. That is the price they are willing to pay...and not all of these people are teenagers. As someone said before about not "having reached the mindset of someone in their thirties", there are plenty of pros out there in their 30's. McConkey, Holmes, Mike Douglas, are just some i can think of off of the top of my head, and i know there are more. the skiing is not being done by inexperienced fools. Why would someone "have to be an idiot" to continue doing something that they love? Just because the majority of the people in this world dont have that kind of passion for a sport, it doesnt mean others dont.
And i never said these people do it to feel alive, i said they do it to push boundaries of a sport. Do you think guys like Sylvain Saudan, Scott Schmidt,Jean-Marc Boivin, and Trevor Peterson were untalented athletes who were just being stuntmen? Some of these guys gave their lives to bring the sport to the level it is at now. Every time skiers drop into a big line, or hit a jump, they know that a miscalculation could cost them their lives. You think these skiers dont have lives...i think traveling the world, exploring new terrain, and showing the world what they can do is a pretty damn good one.
if you dont like it...go rent some old Warren Miller flicks so you can see how skiing would still be without this progression.
post #20 of 41
The problem with these movies is that some immature people who watch them wind up getting the 'Death Wish' part; and they never ever thought they would have to face such a dire end to their otherwise immortal lives!!

What a shame! -- And the skiing industry sanctions media such as this! -- Does any of this sound just a little like the tobacco class actions that have been all over the news? :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 18, 2002 12:47 PM: Message edited 1 time, by feallen ]</font>
post #21 of 41
I think we should not forget about the benefits that WE are getting from the work that those guys are doing. All the equipment, new terrain both in bounds and out, access to heli-skiing.

Poeople involved on professional level almost in any sport that is inherintly dangerous accept significant risks. Be that motorcycles, cars, boats, windsurfing, climbing, etc. And we get to benefit from the R&D results.

post #22 of 41
There's no need to hate a man fo having bigger balls than yourself. I sense a little jealosy in here. I can say it: I will never have the balls required to even drop into one of the faces those guys are straitlining. But I love them for it. As far as injuries:

Do you have any idea of the number of injuries that these so called "best athletes on the face of the planet" have every year? Many of them cannot go through a season without a serious injury that requires surgery. Many of them have multiple knee surgeries, hip surgeries, broken bones, etc that have been accumulated over the years. And of course, some unfortunate ones lose their lives doing this. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Broken bones and surgery are commonplace in baseball and basketball. Hockey. Football. Am I knocking on the door yet. Come on, there are no professional sports where injury is not common. Yeah, people have died in NFL games. That does not mean that pro athletes are stupid, and their lives "meaningless". All opinions are welcome, but quit with the name calling.
post #23 of 41

where did I say that Nobis sucks? I am talking about hucking moves and big air stunts. Those are deathwish things. I don't care what anyone says.

Big mountain skiing, etc., on extremely challenging terrain is good stuff. It's amazing. But throwing big air has almost no relevance to 99.5% of the skiers on snow. Sure, some folks -- maybe even you -- think they are doing something similar when they buy Bandit XXX or Pocket Rocket or Line skis, but it's only about 0.5% of the skiing world that can pull off those insane air moves. /// Keep trying to put words in my mouth. They'll come back to haunt you, I guarantee it.

There's no need to hate a man fo having bigger balls than yourself. I sense a little jealosy in here.

Noodles, I hope you're not talking about me. I am more self-aware than you can imagine, and I know when I'm jealous and when I'm not. I don't need some tenth-rate amateur pop psychologist telling me his supposed diagnosis. Your "diagnosis" is no different than if I were to say that the people who huck giant gaps do it only to make up for a sense of penile inadequacy. Both are wrong. Get it?

Jealousy would be this: I've always wanted to do a 300 foot road gap, but I keep missing. I hate to see someone else able to make it. When it happens, I'm pissed and jealous.

Unfortunately, I don't give a hoot about sticking the landing on a monster road gap. I don't care enough to be jealous.

As for testicular diameter, why don't you come ride mtbs with me? We'll see who is the gelding.

post #24 of 41

Right on! Why don't I get an invite to MTB with you? I'd accept.


If I indicated that you had something against extreme skiing or terrain, I apologize. My complaint was about the lack of distinction in Dave's original post.

What is extreme skiing? What is extreme terrain? I don't consider myself an extreme skier. But if I fell in some of the spots I go @ WB, I'd end up over a 40 ft cliff. Probably wouldn't die, but it wouldn't be fun.
post #25 of 41
Consider yourself invited to Mt.B. Post a time and date and I'll give you a tour of the hill.
post #26 of 41
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gonzostrike:

The "wonder" part shifts my focus to whether these people doing the stunts have much of a life. SERIOUSLY. If someone has to do something that is that dangerous in order to get a feeling of liveliness, then his/her life is completely devoid of meaning.

Now Gonzo is getting deep! (OK, at least into Philosophy 101)

The question I was once asked went something like:
"Would you rather have a life so full, that even the most seemingly exciting adventure was tedious;
Or a life so dull, that even the most mundane task filled you with immense joy."

Now, there's something to think about this weekend. I know what my choice would be.

post #27 of 41
Streaming video of Central OregonBottom of the page. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #28 of 41

You're invited to come ride mtbs with me any time! I love riding with new folks, there's always an exchange of knowledge and technique that gives benefit to both.

There are enough Bears that ride -- off the top of my head, I can think of a few right now: John H, Woody, Gill, Astrochimp, BetaRacer, Andrew Tai, and others I'm sure that I can't recall. I think we should try for an annual Bears mtb gathering. My vote is for Fernie BC or Fruita CO. What say ye?

(edited to add a few names)

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 18, 2002 04:35 PM: Message edited 1 time, by gonzostrike ]</font>
post #29 of 41
The terrain park thing may seem like a fringe aspect of the sport to some, but here in Mammoth it is a reality day in day out. Ride the lower Gondola, and you will see huge spins, flips, grabs, and downright stylie airs galore. Yea, people get hurt, but not like you would expect. These guys are very systematic. They scope every hit. They ski over them before jumping them. They start small, and work their way up. They wire the hit with straight airs before tricking it out. They pay attention to things like the wind, and changing snow conditions. Most of them also rip the rest of the hill; bumps, steeps, pow, exposed backcountry lines, you name it. The bar has been raised in skiing, makes you wonder if you are really are an expert anymore.
post #30 of 41

I don't know where you detected jealousy, but it was not intentional. I am almost 40 years old and know my limits all too well. It would be rather silly for me to be jealous of a 20-year old hucking himself over a 140-foot gap. I am annoyed that too many people think that such activity represents skiing or the future of skiing.

As for injuries, I think you are mistaken. How many basketball or baseball players can you name that go almost yearly through injuries that terminate their seasons? Even football does not really rival extreme skiing in serious injuries. We are talking about averages here.
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