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Ski Blog

The Art Of Flight

clock 18th November 2011 | comment0 Comments

Last night the world tour of the Art of Flight arrived in London for the UK premiere at the BFI IMAX, Europe's largest HD screen. Though the film has been available to buy for a few weeks now, the vast majority of people in the room had waited so they could watch the Art of Flight on the big screen, and none of them, me included, were disappointed.

The event started as soon as you arrived at the IMAX, where the girls greeting you on the door, checking your tickets and generally being helpful, were all dressed in Red Bull flight attendant gear. Once through to the big screen itself, Tim Warwood, introduced us to the film, while looking like a WW1 pilot, before introducing and interviewing Travis Rice, the man behind the film. On discovering the fact that most people had waited to watch his film the excitement built up and culminated when a fan (our Invoice & Ticketing Manager) donated a beer to Rice, which he finished in one to applause and cheer from the crowd.

The room then went dark and the film started...

The Art of Flight opens with Travis Rice discussing the digital age that we now live in and the world of second hand information we are a part of, going on to say that sometimes you need to experience things for yourself. The opening sequence is him going through the airport and the production team giving us a glimpse of the amazing HD filming we were about to experience.

Then bang — the crew are in Alaska, with Rice being dropped at the top of a ridge and the helicopter takes off, shown in an incredible showcase of HD slow-mo, with the heli flipping itself over 90°, before vertically heading down the cliff face. The room was silent... the crowd was already in awe of what we would spend the next hour watching.

This film is truly incredible, and rather than ruin it for you I'm going to leave it for you to watch, but here are a couple of highlights to enjoy.

The team's first trip Canada is incredible, showing how dangerous the mountain is, how every snowboarder, however famous and skilled, has to respect their surroundings. The section shows them testing the conditions and setting off avalanche after avalanche, before finally finding a line they think is safe, only for Mark Landvik to be swept down the mountain by another avalanche. Though he was okay, he was both upset with being swept down the mountain and that they'd put themselves there in the first place.

The section where Travis Rice heads to Patagonia will have you on the edge of your seat, as they push the level of safety beyond the realms of normality, to get one, insane line in an area the locals describe as: "where the devil lives."

The film isn't all about beyond the realms of safety. The sections where the team head to Jackson Hole and Revelstoke are the most fun, with the guys clipping trees in mid air, throwing down huge tricks and hitting lines that make the sport look fun — with some sections in Revelstoke looking rideable by mere mortals like us.

The Art of Flight pushes snowboarding to another limit and though it lacks the story-style feel of That's It, That's All, it truly is a masterpiece. The cameraman turns to Jeremy Jones in his section at the end and Jeremy perfectly sums up how this film will make you feel: "Travis is the future of snowboarding, and the future is now." If you don't own this film, then get onto iTunes and download or fork out for a Blu-ray player, as this is what HD was made for.

I doubt there'll ever be a film that makes me want to strap on my snowboard more.



...Like There's No Tomorrow

clock 14th November 2011 | comment0 Comments

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the London premiere of this year's Warren Miller film, ...Like There's No Tomorrow. With last year's offering, Wintervention, being a killer film, ...Like There's No Tomorrow had a lot to live up to.

As you would expect Warren Miller didn't let us down with this year's film. Due to the epic amounts of snowfall last season, some incredible skill, some heart-warming stories centring on legends such as Tom Day, and of course some good humour, the film was a real ball.

To add to the great film that was on offer, the Warren Miller Tour had the usual fun you would expect from the film makers. During the banter-filled interval prizes from the main sponsors, including a pair of Rossignol skis, a Columbia jacket and some Warren Miller film crew kit, were given away. The guys from Nissan, the film's main sponsor definitely looked to have enjoyed the pre-film hospitality and cheered endlessly throughout the break.

... Like's There's No Tomorrow gets into the action pretty quickly with a trip to the Indian Himalayas. Big mountain skier, Lynsey Dyer and the renowned Alaskan heli-guide, Lel Tone, take us on a trip to these magical mountains. With true first descents on huge faces, followed by some sublime tree skiing, that wouldn't look out of place in a Japanese resort, whet the appetite. After taking on the huge lines and never-before-skied sections of the mountains, the girls head to the local resort of Gulmarg to showcase the country's basic, but dedicated skiing scene, while handing out a few tips to the locals.

Another standout section of the film was the trip to Andreas Hatweit's backyard in Sudndalen, Norway. The freestyle skier has built a world class park literally in his garden and the section includes a selection of top skiers, including Jossi Wells and Britain's James Woods, sessioning the park in day time and under flood lights. This is pretty nuts and needs to be seen to be believed. It definitely beats anything I've seen outside any seasonaire accommodation in the Alps!

The Monashee's section featuring the Yeti has to be my favourite. It starts with skier Andy Mahre declaring: "The key to life is to live each day like it’s your last day. If you’re sitting on the couch, you’re obviously not riding powder, so maybe you should get off the couch." The section that has Mahre and Tyler Ceccanti showing the insane powder, endless pillow lines and mouth-watering skiing to be had from BC's infamous Monashee Lodge. If the awesome riding isn't enough, there is also a subplot involving a yeti stalking Mahre and snaking his lines.

The Rahlves Banzai Tour is pure madness and nothing less. Imagine skier-cross with no rules and you have Banzai Downhill, essentially it's four skiers or snowboarders and the first to the bottom, crashes, shoves and cutting one another up is all part of the carnage. As described by one of the participants: "[you] go as fast as you can, down the gnarliest terrain that you can find and hopefully make it to the bottom." Brilliant.

The film ends on a mixed note with a trip to Alaska. The Alaska section starts with the Point North Heli-skiing family, describing their founders Kevin & Jessica Quinn, along with their new baby. The team then head into the Chegach Mountains with Seth Wescott, Tim Durtschi and Kip Garre, showcasing the incredible, steep, deep terrain on offer.

The section then turns into homage to Kip Garre, after informing the audience of his lost life in an avalanche last winter, the moving section showcases Garre's fantastic skiing and love of the mountains, along with Seth Wescott paying tribute to him. The section, and with it the film, is brought to an end with Wescott's quote, which is also the influence behind the title, " “It doesn't matter what’s going to happen tomorrow because you are living for the moment…and you are totally engrossed in it…and you are loving being there and being present like that. People who commit themselves to this lifestyle take advantage of it…like there might not be a tomorrow."

...Like There's No Tomorrow is about skiing with that in mind, instead of approaching each run thinking about what's next, it's about enjoying every minute on your skis and snowboard as if they are your last. Out of all the films I have seen this year, Warren Miller's latest offering is the one that has me pining for the mountains the most. I know I'll only have one trip this winter, but I'll be treating each day as if it's my last.



Chalets With A View

clock 31st August 2011 | comment0 Comments

Heading for a chalet holiday is about more than just the snow for some people, there are also the views, the food and the relaxed atmosphere to look forward to.

The best food is fairly easy to work out, if you are heading to a luxury chalet you are likely to get restaurant-quality cuisine and impeccable service, if you head to a 2* property you'll be getting a hearty meal and service from teenage chalet hosts. But which chalets have the best views?

Location, Location, Location

A great view is all about the location of the chalet, the direction it is facing and of course the use of huge picture windows and balconies. So, with this in mind what are the chalets with the best views on our site? This of course is subjective, but here are my favourites.

Chalet Grace, Zermatt

Chalet Grace in Zermatt offers phenomenal views, from the double-height floor to ceiling window views of the Klein Matterhorn in the dining room, to the stunning valley views. One of Europe's most famous and most recognisable mountains, the Matterhorn, can also be seen from the living room's picture windows, or the strategically-placed window in the dining room, which perfectly frames the mountain's peak. It doesn't stop there either, as well as beautiful views across Zermatt itself, you can pop out to the outdoor hot tub which, you guessed it, has views of the Matterhorn.

Perdrix Blanche, Courchevel

The chalet Perdrix Blanche is situated in a quaint corner of Courchevel, down in Courchevel 1550, but it offers stunning views along Bozel Valley and the famous Tarantaise Valley. From the living rooms windows to some of the bedrooms, you have this incredible scenery dropping down the valley toward Brides les Bains and back up the valley to the unspoiled mountains on the opposite side. From the other side of the chalet you can take in the views toward Courchevel 1650 and the national park and, of course, there is the imposing Courchevel 1850 located at the top of the piste.

Chalet Hotel Montpelier, Verbier

Okay, so technically this is a chalet hotel, but as it is essentially just a really big chalet and it has incredible views, it is worth a mention. The hotel pool and sundeck has one of the most incredible indoor views you'll find in the Alps — straight out of the floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows you have an undisturbed, panoramic view of the region. With Mont Fort and Mont Gele both visible from the chalet, this property offers truly stunning views across and around Verbier.

Chalet Haute Cimes, Nendaz

Now, the Chalet Hautes Cimes is a risky one, as the images we currently have been given are artist's impressions and 'what you can expect' pictures from the tour operator, but if they live up the their promise, it will have been worth the risk.

Mira Belum, Meribel

The Mira Belum has a great location with views across the Meribel valley. You can see along the ridge line toward the Olympic Express chairlift, which takes you to St. Martin, and down the valley toward the quaint village of Les Allues. The views give you a real feel for the shape of the Three Valleys and why mother nature's layout makes it one of the best ski areas in the world. If you strain your neck, on a good day you can just about make out the top of the valley and where Meribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens meet.

From beautiful vistas and panoramic mountain views, to deep valleys and national parks, the views on your chalet holiday don't have to be just those of high rise apartment blocks. The Alps have some of the most inspiring and even frightening mountains out there, so why not sit back with a vin chaud and take it all in after a day on the slopes.



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