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“Continuum” Turns Rubbish to Resource by Way of an Eclectic Backcountry Tent

Featured Image: Chad Chomlack

There’s nothing more refreshing than seeing larger-than-life athletes doing real things and being real people in front of the camera, and “Continuum” sets the stage for that narrative from the very beginning. While it was not intended to be the sole focus of the film, “Continuum” calls attention to not just the cyclical nature of the seasons but of our lives and our habits as consumers. 

The featured expedition sets the stage for the relatable but hardcore nature of these female athletes. Not only that, but winter camping to go skiing in the backcountry for days on end is simply badass, no matter your location, age or gender. It’s even more inspiring when the team is living out of a tent made by hand from 137 upcycled jackets that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.

It’s not your typical story of shiny new colors and crackling Gore-tex straight out of the poly bag. The authenticity and stoke of “Continuum” is amplified even further by the fact that this is a team of women, both riders and skiers. Not that you wouldn’t expect this level of badassery from women, of course, but it just lends a softer, more thoughtful and fluid pace to the film, released this season by Arc’teryx in partnership with Homestead Creative and Aaron Blatt. The athlete team consists of Elena Hight, Michelle Parker, Spencer O’Brien, Lucy Sackbauer, Tatum Monod and Robin Van Gyn. It really doesn’t get much better than this, in roster, in cinematography and in the zones shredded. It goes far beyond any existing narrative around “girl power” in the ski industry today, and the opening scene of Hight traversing the urban environment of Vancouver sets the stage for a multidimensional ski film.

“I think the most difficult part of creating and bringing a movie to life is wearing both hats as a director and an athlete. When you choose to create something on your own, if you’re passionate about the project as you should be, you are far more invested in the outcome than when you get to show up as purely the athlete,” Parker said from her home in Lake Tahoe. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to produce trips, manage expectations, create equal opportunities for everyone involved and then executing and seeing the film through at every stage. It’s a lot more responsibility than when you get to show up and just ski.”

I’ve been on a couple of trips with Parker and Blatt over the years and they are two of my absolute favorite industry icons, completely unassuming and easy to talk to. Blatt has an unmistakable photographic style and has been shooting iconic imagery for Burton and others for many years. Parker is also super approachable and a kid at heart. She has pieced together an unbelievable career, even having endured five knee surgeries over the years, including climbing and skiing first descents in the Kichatna Spires in Alaska; skiing off of the summit of Denali via the Orient Express; co-producing the series “Originate” with over two million views and becoming one of Red Bull’s most successful web series; placing top-three in slopestyle at the US Open; and winning Best Female Performance for Match Stick Production’s “Drop Everything” with Powder Video Awards and the International Freeskiing Festival.

PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

“Continuum” was shot across five locations: Lake Tahoe, California, Mount Baker, Washington, Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Bella Cola, British Columbia and Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska. There are always challenges that arise when creating on this scale, explained Parker, including when her dad was diagnosed with dementia a few days after getting the green light to create this project. While this might not have been directly related to the movie itself, it has been one of the biggest challenges she has faced. “I immediately knew that I would be spending far more time at home, and life as I knew it had shifted to make space for my family. Every day became a challenge in its own way, and I ended up filming the majority of my season by myself. I had dreamed up this project with the ultimate goal of getting to ski alongside all of these amazing women, but in the end, I felt really isolated, which was both beautiful at times and unimaginably hard as well.”

Beyond the personal challenges, we all know there’s a problem with too much outdoor apparel ending up in landfills, and “Continuum” sheds a breath of fresh air and positivity on a serious topic. In addition to the tactics in the film, Arc’teryx also leans heavily into breathing new life to gear through its ReBIRD initiative. The idea of reducing consumption is something a lot of us can relate to at the same time, repairing and adding our own ingenuity into our gear and the equipment we use to survive and thrive in a winter landscape. It’s a glimpse into some of these incredible athletes’ lives in a relatable way. And the cinematography and filmmaking, with its personal, light-hearted approach, is icing on the cake. 

“Most of us travel through life at such high speeds, but when you slow down you notice more and your awareness for what is happening increases. You become more present and life becomes more full,” said Parker. 

“Obviously, there is an environmental message here as well to use less and ski more, as well as a nod to the culture of consuming less and using what we already have. Being more thoughtful with what we consume is important and we really wanted people to walk away with inspiration to do that in their own life. We wanted to touch on that but not make it the focus of the film.” And successfully so. Introspection and circularity sandwich and layer the gnar captured by Blatt and his team, making this one of the most compelling and memorable films of the season by far.


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