October 9, 2013

Review: TGR’s Way of Life


Going into Teton Gravity Research’s newest film, Way of Life, I was prepared for a letdown.  TGR’s last movie was good, but nothing special, and we had just finished Sherpas Cinema’s Into the Mind.  However, a simple message and the highest level of skiing make a great movie that could be my favorite of the year. 

After a so-so fireworks laden intro, TGR puts its best foot forward by giving Sage Cattabriga Alosa the opening segment.  He delivers, by slaying three-thousand foot lines in Alaska, where every trip is “a learning experience.”  The movie moves on to southern British Colombia and Red Mountain, where a crew of Dana Flahr, Dash Longe, Angel Collinson, and Tim Durtschi crush pillows.  We meet some Red Mountain old timers, including one seventy three-year local of Red, who explains that he has “done a lot for the hill, but the hill has done a lot for us.”  Highlights include Dylan Hood popping a smooth three off an enormous cliff, and Angel Collinson ripping the high alpine.

The movie then moves to Jackson, the stomping grounds of TGR, for a heartfelt segment that reminds you to make at least one road trip to the Tetons this year.  And despite the fact that Jackson Hole, a TGR sponsor, is featured every year, the segment still rocks.  We get to watch metal-mouthed fourteen year-old shredder Daniel Tisi rip lines with local Max Hammer.  The movie then moves to the Jackson backcountry, where Griffin Post, John Spriggs, and Todd Ligare explore new zones and find big air.  We then get to watch Post, accompanied by local guide Zahan Billimoria, rip the east face of the Middle Teton.  The timelapse of the boys skinning up in the dark is pretty cool.  The segment is summed up by the quote that Jackson is “so many different things to so many different people, but at the same time it’s this one thing to everyone.”

From there, we move to Austria, where Colter Hinchliffe, Sage, and Durtschi get the deepest powder in the movie.  The Aspen crowd went nuts for the skiing, as well as the pretty ridiculous narration of Hinchliffe, whose sophomore performance solidifies himself as a part of the TGR crew.  We meet local characters who have found their own ways to make their lives in the mountains, including a very elder man whose happiness is contagious.

Next stop, TGR’s Fantasy Camp.  I had heard of this mythical place from the Facebook and Instagram accounts of TGR athletes, but didn’t fully comprehend it until I saw the movie.  TGR chose a remote location in the Alaskan wilderness, and constructed a mini town with the capability to land planes to bring athletes in and out to deliver supplies and athletes.  Flahr, Todd Ligare, Collinson, and McIntosh ski first decent lines due to the Fantasy Camp’s location as an outpost to some of the best mountains on earth.  Angel Collinson delivers the best female performance of this year’s crop of ski movies.  It is also awesome to see Ian McIntosh full return to form, because he charges harder than anyone.

From Fantasy Camp, the movie goes to the US Freeskiing team camp at Mammoth, in a cool segment that shows Sammy Carlson and other US athletes utilizing the airbags in order to execute their tricks.  It shows people actually learning and comprehending what their body is doing, a side of the sport the general public does not get to see.  The star-studded train lines the athletes form are really awesome to see.

After Mammoth, we follow Carlson as he joins the Fantasy Camp crew to show he can ski lines as well.  Carlson and TGR sophomore Tim Durtschi learn some lessons in sluff management. Then Durtschi closes out the movie in one of the most well rounded and buttery segments of the ski movie season.

In Way of Life, TGR goes back to the simple theme of appreciating life centered on a collective love for the mountains.  TGR is able to lightly touch on the theme throughout the movie, without making the message overbearing.   Perhaps I found this to be appeasing after a concentration heavy Sherpas movie.  It finds plain happy mountain people and asks, “what’s your route to this?”  But they keep it simple, and it compliments standout skiing to make a really good movie.

About the Author

1. Ed Dujardin
After moving out west for college, Ed took summer school so he could spend winters in Crested Butte. These days, he coaches the Western State Colorado University Freeride Team, and spends as much time as he can fishing the incredible rivers of the area.