Last night, Matchstick Productions celebrated its 20th ski movie premiere in Seattle, WA at the historic McCaw Hall. Titled Superheroes of Stoke, MSP didn’t want its 20th iteration to just be filled with ski porn and filler, but rather decided on a light educational route. And not boring, Warren-Miller of yore-esque dialogue. Skillfully intertwined throughout were shots from MSP’s storied past that alluded to how things have changed, and how far we’ve come in the past two decades of freeskiing.
So to celebrate this film, and the anniversary that goes along, a number of skiing’s elite athletes descended upon Seattle. Held in Boulder, CO the past couple of years, MSP changed up world premiere locales, opting for a decidedly more urban (and larger; the auditorium holds 2,900 people) venue. Both co-founders of MSP hail from Seattle, so last night marked a homecoming of sorts for the company. But in reality, Seattle has a voracious ski community, and simply put, there aren’t many better cities to host a world premiere.
The large venue.
When the doors opened to McCaw hall at 6:30, a horde of movie-goers attacked the poster line. Not your normal, orderly poster line, the athletes faced a literal wall of fans. It wasn’t until the theater forced people to take their seats, that athletes got a respite from poster duty. Although Ingrid Backstrom had to be pulled from the poster table, as she was trying to please every single fan. Once the three-tiered theater was seated and the obligatory introductions and swag throw were over, the movie got underway.
The opening segment belonged to Richard Permin, who is not so quietly making his bid for Skier of the Year rights. The jovial Frenchman confidently ripped AK lines, sliced through Japanese pow and more than held his own on MSP’s signature jump sessions. Congratulation Richie, you were one of the highest points of the film.
Michelle Parker with some young admirers.
After enduring injuries and the long road to recovery that accompanies them, Michelle Parker showed that she’s back and ready to take the female throne. With her own segment—and scattered throughout the rest of the film—Parker skis aggressively and fluidly, showcasing her talents that many had forgotten in her absence. Minutes before the premiere, Parker had won IF3’s Best Female Performance award, so we were ready for some kind of killer segment. The Tahoe-local was also picked up by Red Bull this weekend, so it’s safe to say that she is winning right now.
As the movie snaked through its narrative, it was apparent that the 70-minute (this editor’s rough estimation) run time was a bit long. But the movie was picked up with upbeat segments like the one from Japan. Featuring Sean Pettit, Richard Permin and Riley Leboe, the trio reminded us why we ski (because it’s a heck of a lot of fun and you get to do it with your friends). The two jump segments (Alyeska and Whistler) were entertaining and Russ Henshaw absolutely dismantled Whistler with his two triple-corks. You’ll see the deepest powder segment in recent memory as Mark Abma, Logan Pehota and James Heim shred 211 cms worth of fresh in Chatter Creek, BC. And Jacob Wester shows in his segment that he’s so much more than the park skier that many have labeled him
Stars of the show, Gus Kenworthy and Richard Permin.
And in a movie filled with world-class skiers and hammer after hammer, Eric Hjorleifson showed that he’s feeling no ill effects from his knee injury a season prior. Charging as hard as we’ve ever seen, Hoji shows that he’s on top of his game, and the industry, when it comes to technical lines and stomping the piss out of big drops.
As mentioned before, the movie does feel long, but it’s filled with quite a bit of freeskiing’s history and its icons who made the sport what it is today. A heartwarming tribute to Shane McConkey, Sarah Burke, CR Johnson, Arne Backstrom & Antoine Montant serves as a reminder that the sport is indeed a life and death adventure and the heroes we look up to, can fall.
And as the lights rose and the theater emptied out its clamorous audience, MSP has once again delivered the goods in its vintage style. Educational, yet exceptional. Big ski action framed within a narrative. Beautiful cinematography cut with harrowing POV footage. Simply put, Superheroes of Stoke is worthy of MSP’s 20th anniversary tag, and here’s to hoping the next 20 are as great.
For more information on the movie and tour dates, visit skimovie.com.