Perhaps there is no better story about following your heart in the world of skiing than that of Sammy Carlson. A decorated slope style warrior, the 5 time X-games medalist has had one of the greatest re-directions in skiing history. While not the first to do so, his story is still remarkable. After sustaining a heavy knee injury in 2012 and doing some soul searching, Sammy C made the brave choice to leave behind a shot at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the well known competition scene to enter the personally relatively unexplored world of filming and backcountry skiing. Although I have never spoken to the man myself, by putting little pieces of information together over time it sounds as though injury aside, he was looking to branch out from the competitive world that had given him much, but was no longer where his dreams lay. I would also like to state that I could be getting parts of this wrong, and if you read this Sammy and have interest in telling the full story, you know where to find me. However, we know certain things for sure, such as the fact that Sammy traded podiums for powder.
At first glance this may not seem like much of a decision. A talented skier leaves one area of the sport for another. But consider this; for a guy like Sammy Carlson the competition scene is not just flashing lights, it is practically guaranteed media attention, sponsorships, and money. These are tough and rare things for any skier to walk away from, especially with skiing being a sport that is only just beginning to capture the main stream public eye. To be able to put aside that promise and follow what one knows to be true in the heart is an extremely commendable thing to do. The list of those who have successfully walked similar paths is short but stacked. Tanner Hall and Candide Thovex are two that come to mind, and being on a list with those fabled rippers can never be bad. But no matter who has come before you, a daunting decision is still just that; a daunting decision. Only you can make the final call, and I think the world of skiing is grateful that Sammy made the choice that he did.
Years later, after injuries and crashes, setbacks and tribulations, Sammy Carlson has undoubtedly proven himself to be one of the best the skiing community has ever laid eyes upon. He has put together film projects that will no doubt be cemented in skiing history. Taking his solid slope style base into the backcountry, he continuously proves that a good skier should not be defined by what they can ski, but rather how they ski it. Similar to Thovex, Calrson can make a flat 3 across a 40 foot gap look all but effortless, as is displayed in the closing sun set shot of “Resilience”. His truly magical ability to paint a monstrous blank face like nobody’s business is illustrated to a T, and there is something incredibly poetic about being able to tell a story with ones skiing. After all, the beautiful thing about skiing is that it’s just another form of creative expression. Sammy does an amazing job of expressing a joy and appreciation for life through his skiing.
I think “Resilience” is the perfect title for this short film. A story such as Sammy Carlson’s is chocked full of it. Not just physical, but mental resilience as well. The ability to face the difficult pressure, say no to the obvious choice and follow your heart is, in a way resilient. Powering back after a staggering injury is resilient. Getting back on the twigs slam after slam after slam, as shown in the opening clips, is resilient. While the near overwhelming electro hype music that consumed most of this edit almost distracted me from the INCREDIBLE skiing throughout, the surreal final quarter almost had me in tears. To me, it describes the beauty that comes as a product of being resilient, the serenity and peace that can be obtained if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. As the last narration of the movie states, “There isn’t anything impossible if you have the will, the know-how, and the determination to make it come true”. As skiers we see real life examples of this all around us, and as perfectly showcased by Sammy C, a little passion and resilience can go a very, very long way.