The Snow Report
What inspires you?
I’ve always been focused on making the sport better and have wanted to do things that brought athletes to the next level.
How did the project to ski Mount St. Elias come about?
In 2003, I was working on a speed skiing project and was looking for a 5,000- to 6,000-foot-high face that would be the speed track for Harry Egger, the world-record holder in speed skiing at the time. I had looked all over the Himalayas and was scouting in Alaska, which didn’t have the attitude, just in case. I had booked the fantastic bush pilot Paul Claus and was by myself, so I called Axel Naglich. When we flew over St. Elias, we realized that it must be skiable all the way to the sea. That’s how the idea was born.
You’ve been involved in a lot of projects where the goal—skiing Mount St. Elias, climbing all of the north faces of the Alps—is intrinsically linked to making a film. Some people criticize this. What do you see as the purpose of events and films?
The reason I like filming in extreme conditions, extreme mountain faces, extreme skiing is to show how great it is, show the unique location, great athletes, new lines—especially the new lines—projects on hidden spots, first ascents. I like the voltage in my brain and the sweat in my fingers, before as an athlete, and now as a production leader and cameraman.
How did you learn to be a cameraman?
Because I was always in positions where other cameramen couldn’t be.
What do you see going on in ski films these days?
They are not focused on the sport. The cameramen, they are not from the sports side. They are just looking for action, crazy things. They push the athletes to do big jumps, crazy lines. They just film lines. There’s no story, no history. We need to make ski films with stories behind them. Athletes risk their lives for big lines for movies made on DVDs that are manufactured in China.
We need to bring the athletes into cinema. Athletes now pay to be in a movie. This situation makes me angry and it’s not fair to the athletes. In the end, the traditional ski production companies aren’t in it to make good films; they’re in it to make money.
But is there a conflict here with Red Bull in that people might say Red Bull does what you’ve described above?
Red Bull is more interested in storytelling these days, in documentaries like The North Face series, the story on David Lama. They offer information, history, and then they show you the people who do it. Art of Flight was a lot of fancy cameras, but there are many other Red Bull films.
How did you first get involved with Red Bull?
I was involved from the beginning. At first, I was an athlete. When Mateschitz started the company, he sponsored me as a skier and climber at this time. I told him we needed money to do events, then I started organizing events. I never went to Red Bull because I needed work; I went because I had an idea and I was going to do it whether they were on board or not. I like exploring. I’m so stoked from all the projects I’ve worked on. It’s a kind of fire in me.