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“Space Craft” Featuring Sam Kuch and Cole Richardson is Otherworldly

I love when ski films are able to elevate beyond the typical narrative, and often the best way to do that is by tying modern skiing into an aspect of pop culture—or in this case, historical culture. Through a stroke of creative genius combined with research and luck, “Space Craft” uncovers an uncanny parallel, utilizing unique historical 1960s space footage juxtaposed with some of the greatest freeskiing of the 21st century to bring a cool idea to life. 

Every great ski flick has a story line, some banal, some legacy, others documentary in nature, some rely on pure stoke, others disruption. Arc’teryx athletes Sam Kuch and Cole Richardson teamed up with CK9 Studios’ Clay Mitchell and Simon Shave to create something entirely different with “Space Craft.”

Even some of the falls and slides and mishaps meld perfectly with the theme as the ski-space analogies unfold in a natural progression. The parallels start to flow early on, and you’re transported to Kuch’s home, the Selkirk Mountains surrounding Nelson, British Columbia, watching him defy gravity in a way only a skier can here on Earth—flying and floating and launching their way across an otherworldly backcountry snowscape, translayered with the early space mission training footage, it feels like a natural pairing. You’d think skiers like Kuch would have a similar training regime, and they kind of do: Kuch’s mom was a gymnast and a Black Belt, and he’s been training and competing since he was 13. He endured two seasons of disappointment, crashing instead of qualifying for the Freeride World Tour. At the end of the 2017-18 season, Kuch was asked to guide a film crew around his home mountain of Whitewater, and Kuch’s demonstration of the lines that make the area incredible became a sizable part of an ensuing film and landed him the “Discovery of the Year” award at the International Freeski Film Festival (iF3).

What was initially going to be a duo project in 2022, “Space Craft” evolved primarily with Kuch taking the lead after Richardson was injured in a crash in Japan. With two injuries splitting their seasons apart, Kuch proceeded with a remaining budget and CK9 Studios. “It does feel quite different,” Kuch told me. “The fact that we were able to obtain that footage makes it authentic in a fresh way that no one had seen before. And that’s really what we were trying to do while at the same time showcasing high-end skiing and filmmaking.” 

In the end, the juxtaposition and interweaving of the historic moon landing, early space travel and training footage with truly epic skiing is captivating. The film isn’t long enough for the idea to become trite, and you’re on the proverbial edge of your seat, wondering what they will show next. And the skiing in “Space Craft” often feels as unattainable as a trip to the moon itself, reminding us what a planetary landscape we actually play in.


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