Recap: MSP Films’ “Fade to Winter” premieres in Denver, CO

Recap: MSP Films’ “Fade to Winter” premieres in Denver, CO

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Upwards of fifteen-hundred skiers converged on Denver’s Paramount Theater last evening; joined by the cast and crew of MSP Films, along with the FREESKIER squad and a slew of industry personalities, show goers enjoyed the world premiere screening of MSP’s new flick, Fade to Winter.

Said cast included the likes of Tanner Rainville, James Heim, Michelle Parker, Aaron Blunck, Bobby Brown, Sean Jordan, Mark Abma and Markus Eder; the athletes traveled from far and wide to join the celebration, and to taste the fruit of their wintertime labors.

The Paramount’s doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and once inside, fans encountered promotional booths from the likes of Under Armour, HEAD, High Fives Foundation and more. Many opted to spend their time properly lubricating in the expansive bar area, while others made a bee-line for the athletes, who signed posters, hats, t-shirts, and occasionally, some skin.

Later, inside of the main auditorium, folks enjoyed a bit of pre-screening hype in the form of a product toss. The athletes took to the stage, and behind ‘em, “FREE STUFF!!” flashed on-screen, inciting a stampede. And copious goods then proceeded to rain down on the crowd. Fresh, purple FREESKIER-branded caps were among the most coveted items.

The venue—built in 1930—remains the only local theater of its time to maintain its original splendor. I certainly have not partaken in a ski film premiere (and I’ve been to a few in my day) in a spot quite as fancy. The electric atmosphere was heightened by the truly remarkable architectural and design elements; colorful, dramatic false gold leafing and copper and bronzing in the ceiling frame large, silk murals. ‘Twas glamorous, indeed.

And sometime after 8:30 p.m. the lights dimmed, and we collectively Fade(d) to Winter.


Skiing’s new boy band does Iceland. The bad boy: Markus Eder. The shy one: Pk Hunder. The young one: Aaron Blunck. The older brother type: Tanner Rainville. And the heart throb: Bobby Brown. Photo by Alex Fenlon.

The film opens with shots of Tanner Rainville and Markus Eder skiing thin ribbons of snow on a rocky, brown landscape. The experience is one of “finding salvation in the little things,” which becomes a theme of the film.

Battling less than desirable snow conditions in 2015 was a regularity for the MSP team; the tireless efforts of the skiers and cinematographers to overcome these challenges provided for first-class entertainment.

Whether it was Bobby Brown and Aaron Blunck ripping with local, grom skiers at Mad River Glen, Loon and Sunday River, or Brown and Alex Schlopy shredding Lee Ski Hill’s rope-tow-accessed 75 vertical feet in downtown Ouray, Colorado, the film showcases instances of “taking it as it comes and making the best of it.” Arguably the best illustration of this optimism is seen in Iceland, where Brown, Blunck, Eder, Rainville and Hunder kick crappy snow conditions to the curb and build an assortment of jumps, butter-pads, road-tunnel jibs, etc. The crowning moment comes when a group of school children gather to watch the skiers hit the aforementioned road-tunnel gap; chants of “Backflip! Backflip!” ring out, and Brown and Blunck happily oblige. These scenes, showcasing the overcoming of adversity, are recounted via athlete-interviews that are laced throughout the film and also via narration.

It wasn’t all struggles for the MSP team, though. Mind-boggling snow conditions were encountered in Hokkaido, Japan. Slow-motion, pow-filled shots of Heim, Parker and Abma had my neighbors muttering things like, “We seriously need to go there, right now.”

Brown and Jordan put on a clinic in Italy, sessioning perfectly sculpted park jumps and hand-built backcountry booters. Brown and Schlopy also launch off of an absolutely massive trestle in the Telluride, CO-BC; perhaps the standout highlight of this shoot is Schlopy’s gargantuan, 100-foot-plus double backflip.

And then, there’s Haines.

Parker, Rainville, Heim and Eder do work in Alaska. Accompanied by heavy music, this segment is a true gem. We witness a few scary happenings, like when Heim triggers a hefty slide and barely escapes a nasty ride. We also see Heim ski the line of the film, in this editor’s humble and correct opinion; it appears to be 6,000+ vert of pure AK bliss, and “Heimer” absolutely nukes. After descending, we see Heim breathing heavily, heaped over. Between laboring breaths he blurts, “that was my best run of the year.”

Similarly, we see Rainville bag a line and exclaim, “it doesn’t get any better.”

Rainville elaborated on this sentiment earlier this week, when we spoke with him about his time in the 49th state. “There is no place on earth where the terrain and snow combine in such a way that you’d swear you’re dreaming,” he told us, “but it’s real, and it’s in Haines, Alaska.”

And Ms. Parker told us, “The lines [in Haines] are insane and I’ve never seen snow stick to mountains like it does there. Watching the movie with all your friends is like reliving the experience of your past season. It always gets me fired up for winter. The movie is so rad… I can’t wait to be back in Alaska.”

MSP Films director Scott Gaffney also touched on the notion of fueling the proverbial flames of skiers’ pre-season stoke. “From an editor’s point of view, you feel like you’re hanging out with all of the athletes while editing, because we’re always in touch, showing them clips every now and again, and getting feedback, and making sure they’re cool with everything. In reality, you haven’t seen many of them in five or six months, so it’s great to finally get everyone together under one roof. [The skiers] are just like any other viewers. [Seeing the footage], they get insanely fired up to go skiing again. It’s so cool to see that fire grow right before your eyes.”

Gaffney continued, “It feels so good to finally get [the film] in front of people. When you spend that much time on something, you kind of lose sight of things… you lose that objective view of what it is that you’re actually working on. You’re not sure if it’s going to connect with people or not, and when you see it happen [like we did in Denver], it makes it all worthwhile.”


Michelle Parker gets the goods in Haines. Photo by Jeff Cricco.

Following the film screening, the gang made its way to Tarantula Billiards Bar to keep the good times rolling. It was a pleasure, as always, to catch up with the athletes, and it’s always special to witness the interaction between skiing fans and their heroes. I stood by as a 27-year-old by the name of Kristen met Abma and Parker for the first time; having overcome some star-stricken nerves, she proceeded to discuss upcoming winter plans, etc. Abma and Parker reciprocated, of course, recapping their recent adventures. Smiles abounded.

“Visiting the different cities [on the film tour] is so amazing,” Abma told me later. “It’s the experiences like this, of meeting all the passionate individuals, that makes it so amazing.”

“The premiere was epic,” said Denver’s own Bobby Brown. “It’s always a good time when you get a room full of fired up skiers. The response from the crowd was awesome and I had an amazing time watching all the athletes’ hard work come to fruition on the big screen.”

It’s certainly a pleasure to witness fans tapping into the stoke of their favorite athletes, and vice versa, the skiers feeding on the stoke of the masses.

I extend kudos to the MSP crew on a job well done. One day later, and now having recovered (mostly) from the late-night debauchery, I’m left with thoughts reeling about the film’s wonderful clips and segments. More than anything, I just really want to go to Haines right now. Any takers? Parker? Rainville?

With that, the MSP team and Fade to Winter are now en route to a city near you. For information regarding MSP’s film tour, click here. For information on how to purchase the film, click here.

Related: Must Watch: MSP Films’ trailer for 2015 feature Fade to Winter

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