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“Unlikely Duo” Unites Eric Carter and Tom Peiffer Across Ski Disciplines

The juxtaposition of disciplines fascinates and unites us as skiers and riders, even when it seems as though we are only linked by our passion for being on snow. And the more niche, the more extreme, the more elusive they become. 

As the niches have continued to niche, even in our already niche world of snowsports, the draw to understand each other becomes even more powerful, the fascination greater. 

Earning my ski legs in the mountains of Colorado after almost 30 years of living in Summit County and in the mountains outside of Boulder, I developed an obsession with understanding, if not trying, every possible application of skiing. From skate skiing and skijoring to snowboarding, ski mountaineering and biathlon—how could there be so many mind-blowing skiing disciplines, and how do I set myself up to experience as many of them as possible, I often wondered. Well, apparently, I’m not alone. 

“Unlikely Duo” unlocks some of the mystery and breaks down boundaries between two of the most disparate disciplines of competitive skiing: Ski Mountaineering (skimo) and Freeride. And when you think about the potential stereotypes for these disciplines, which might not be that inaccurate, the disparity of the disciplines immediately sets the film up for success in a number of ways, and viewers are captivated as preconceptions are shed over the course of 14 minutes that seem to fly by. 

Upon seeing Eric Carter, a former U.S. National Team skimo race athlete, and Tom Peiffer, a former Freeride World Tour competitor, you’ll immediately recognize that their ability to shred epic terrain and genuine respect for one another is what unites them. Throughout the film, viewers are along for a journey of epic lines, far-flung objectives and a genuine friendship developing in real-time. 

And that’s why films like this not only exist, but unite us as athletes and fun hogs. “It’s been received really well by a lot of communities, by the ski touring and uphill side and by the more freeride world,” Peiffer told me on his way up to Alta where he was back in the States visiting family. “The biggest thing about this film is that it’s not just ski porn. It’s refreshing and human to see a natural piece, there’s nothing that was stretched, it was this natural storyline that emerged.” They credit director Peter Wojnar for his ideation and commitment to the story that emerged.

As Peiffer and Carter individually progressed in their professional skiing careers beyond competition in their respective disciplines, their paths converged unexpectedly as fellow Arc’teryx athletes on a list of big-mountain ski mountaineering objectives along BC’s Coast Range on the unceded territories of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations.

Carter said the reception of the film on tour was one of the coolest parts of the whole experience, especially around a hometown crowd and home of sponsor Arc’teryx in the Vancouver area. “Watching someone like Tom [Peiffer] absolutely shred something is cool, but when we went to the film tour stops, it was really nice to break it up, to have some dialogue.” 

The way they launch into and simultaneously break down stereotypes is something that feels immediately relatable; and where that friendship leads is remarkable, brought to life by director Peter Wojnar. From their shared home range outside of Squamish to India and back again, it’s truly an unlikely yet relatable tale that, in the end, embodies everything that’s right about skiing. They find there’s strength in their differences and a lot more to successful missions and partnerships than can be defined by an individual discipline.

The athletes explained the trip to India that makes up the climax of the film was supposed to be its own project, but that story didn’t emerge as planned due to a decade-long heat wave in the Himalayas. But the film is buoyed by a larger storyline of friendship and growth. “Objectively the trip was a huge failure,” said Carter. “But we were able to walk out of there as friends.” 

The duo said the Arc’teryx management team is next level when it comes to supporting the team and emphasizing safety first. “They want it to be organic and also coincide with our goals. I think that’s their ethos, natural, original, like us, human, before anything else,” said Peiffer. 

“There’s an element of human normalcy,” he explained. “We are at the pinnacle of these sports, but we’re also normal guys who do this stuff. And Eric [Carter] and I have this shared passion. When we go out, not only are we stoked on what we’re doing, but we’re both learning from each other.”


Director: Peter Wojnar
Producer: Zanny Venner
Cinematography: Peter Wojnar, Seth Gillis, Joel Fuller, Anthony Bonello, Essex Prescott, Justen Bruns
Editor: Peter Wojnar
Original Music: Harald Boyesen
Colourist: Mike Gamble
Post Production Sound: Jeff Yellen/Ridgeline Sound
Title Design: Tora Hylands
Still Photography: Reuben Krabbe
Ibex Expeditions: Mandip Singh Soin
IMF Liason Officer: Pushkar Singh
Arc’teryx: Ben Osborne, Eliza Nowack


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