“Finding The Line” is a quest to define and ultimately overcome fear

“Finding The Line” is a quest to define and ultimately overcome fear

In the contemporary ski world, personal video projects are a dime a dozen these days. Every week, it seems, there’s an announcement regarding a new mini-series or full-length movie documenting an epic ski journey to Japan or British Columbia or Greenland, etc. That’s not to say that each isn’t enjoyable—who among us doesn’t observe footage of deep snow, consequential lines, big cliffs and travel-based skiing, in general, and not wish it was us starring in front of the camera? But, every now and then a story emerges that resonates on a deeper level than face shots or stomped landings. Finding The Line, a recently announced two-year video undertaking from Anna and Nat Segal, along with filmmaker Bjarne Salén, aims to cement itself as more than “just ski porn.”

Through shared experiences in the locations of Alaska, British Columbia, France, the western United States and the sisters’ native Australia, the trio seeks to answer the question, “How do you find the line between progression and excessive risk?” At the center of their analysis is the exploration of fear and what it means to each of them, individually.

Pro skiers Anna and Nat Segal

Anna and Nat Segal breaking trail in British Columbia. Photo by Bjarne Salén.

Both sisters have backgrounds as ski competitors. Anna, 29, is an X Games medalist in slopestyle and represented Australia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, while Nat, 27, has enjoyed success on the Freeride World Tour. Both ultimately grew tired of the rigors that go hand-in-hand with competing on a global circuit. Following the Sochi Olympics, Anna yearned to push her skiing into the backcountry and to find partners who might help her gain a better understanding of the risks involved with out-of-bounds travel. Nat was frustrated with the Freeride World Tour format, in which one run can make or break your score, discouraging athletes, she feels, to push the limits—because the consequences of crashing and missing the podium translates to wasted time, money and energy.

[su_button url=”https://www.instagram.com/anna_segal” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#0e5589″ size=”5″ center=”yes” radius=”5″]Follow Anna Segal on Instagram[/su_button]

“We realized that what we both wanted with our skiing was what the other person could give,” explains Anna. “I could help Nat learn tricks and put those aspects into her run and she could help me get my backcountry experience and push me in that direction.”

Last September, the sisters went on a backcountry trip to an area of Australia called “The Roof of Oz,” home of the country’s tallest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. It was on this trip that they flushed out the concept for their video project.

“We didn’t just want to do a ski porn type film,” Anna explains. “We started thinking about what normal people could relate to in every day life and what we confront with our skiing. We realized that was fear and we started developing an idea about confronting your fears… confronting your fears through skiing and how that could relate to the general public.”

[su_button url=”https://www.instagram.com/nat_segal/” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#0e5589″ size=”5″ center=”yes” radius=”5″]Follow Nat Segal on Instagram[/su_button]

With the skeleton concept conceived, the Segals looked to Salén as one who could capture the idea and convey their message through his art. Salén is responsible for films like Salomon Freeski TV’s Eclipse and Reaching My Limit—a two-part film documenting Andreas Fransson’s descent of the Whillans Ramp; he’s also the videographer who was present when JP Auclair and Fransson—two of his best friends—perished in remote Patagonia while shooting for the project, Apogee. Furthermore, Salén was responsible for producing and shooting the majority of the award-winning short film from Switchback Entertainment titled Tempting Fear, which explored Fransson’s relationship with fear while tacking off first descents the world over. In short: He knows a thing or two about capturing athletes in moments of fear while they attempt to progress their skills in the mountains. His films always contain deeper meaning than your typical “edit.”

“To me it’s not that interesting to just do a ski porn film, anyone can do a ski porn film, it’s not that tricky. But this is more of a story and I really like that,” explains Salén. “I get very motivated if I believe I can make a film that will touch people. And that’s how I felt with this project. Of course there will be really rad skiing in the project, but it’s also going to have more depth in it that [someone like] my sister can relate to even though she doesn’t really like skiing.”

That depth is achieved through the exploration of fear and its various layers. For the Segal sisters, and many skiers, fear is experienced first and foremost as anxiety at the thought of suffering physical harm. “It’s the fear of crashing, hurting myself,” explains Nat.

Pro skier Anna Segal in British Columbia

Anna Segal goes airborne in British Columbia. Photo by Bjarne Salén

“There’s a physical fear you get from standing on top of a line and going, ‘Shit, am I going to fall down this cliff?'” describes Anna.

Nat also cites grappling with a terror that stems from her career in ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing. “I get really scared of the unknown, both the unknown of my own experience and the fear of not knowing enough (about specific backcountry variables, terrain features, etc.),” she explains. “Fear of the unknown is just sort of realizing that you need to have an experience, learn to put yourself in a scenario where you’re equipped to handle an issue, as opposed to just hurling yourself down a ski line you don’t know how to ride.”

For both sisters, after spending much time and energy on pursuing professional ski careers, they feel like their tales as skiers have only just begun.

“I have this fear of not reaching my full potential and I think that’s something that really drove Anna and I to make this film,” explains Nat. “We really feel like we have so much more in the tank and so far every experience and every opportunity I’ve had has made me realize how much further I can push myself.”

The skiing fears are obvious, yes, but there’s an even more obvious and relatable fear that is outlined simply by the ladies’ decision to embark on this project: Being afraid to fail.

“For Nat and I, this whole project is a scary undertaking. Are we going to make a good movie? Are people going to watch this? Or are we just going to make absolute dicks of ourselves?” questions Anna. “And it’s scary just putting a big project out like this to criticism. That’s an element we want to express through the film as well.”

What Salén believes will be most attractive to the general public is exploring the idea of fear as a beneficial sensation. Asking questions like, “Why am I scared?”, “How can I control my fears?” and “Where exactly is this anxiety coming from?” in order to arrive at a point of resolution. It’s when people take the time to peel back the layers of their fear to overcome it, when it becomes productive.

“As Nat said, you can have fear because you think you might crash on a ski run or because you don’t have the [experience] of being that exposed [in the mountains], but if you do have the knowledge of standing in that spot, there’s no reason to be scared,” he explains. “Fear for some people is just scary, it’s just fear, but if you can control and understand it, then fear is a very beautiful thing in life, in general.”

Pro skier Nat Segal in British Columbia

Nat Segal in the late afternoon light. Photo by Bruno Long

The trio began filming for Finding The Line this past February in British Columbia, bagging some initial footage and working out group dynamics. “We all worked really hard,” says Anna. “Bjarne was carrying all of this gear including a drone for, like, 10-hour days. Nat and I skied ourselves into the ground and could hardly walk by the end of it. But, it was a really good starting point.”

This winter, the Segals and Salén will continue exploring the theme of fear as it affects progression with backdrops like Alaska, Chamonix and their homeland of Australia.

To follow along with their adventures, visit findingthelinefilm.com. The film is set to be released in the fall of 2017.


Upgrade Your Inbox

Don't waste time seeking out the best skiing content; we'll send it all right to you.

One thought on ““Finding The Line” is a quest to define and ultimately overcome fear

Comments are closed.