If winters continue being as warm and dry as this one, then maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll all learn to ski like French phenom Candide Thovex, who released a video earlier this week, titled “Ski the World,” showcasing him freeride skiing in exotic, snowless locales all over the globe.
In the edit, which was made in partnership with Audi, Thovex skis along the Great Wall of China, among statues in Mongolia, through volcanic ash, into a rainforest, over sand dunes, and ends surfing ocean waves on skis somewhere in Jamaica. Thovex spent nearly a year researching and analyzing maps and cultural and historical details to identify locations for the shoot.
He and his team then spent three months on the ground, eventually narrowing the list down to dozens of locations in a handful of countries. The whole thing was filmed over the course of several months. But don’t ask Thovex to reveal exactly where the film was shot. “That’s the whole fun of it—letting the audience sort it out among themselves and having a good guess at where it is,” he says.
But how did Thovex do it, and what condition were his planks in after shooting? Did he use some kind of special wax or protective layer on his skis to be able to shred sand, rock, and grass? Nope.
For 95 percent of the shoot, he rode completely standard, straight off-the-shelf options from his sponsor, Faction Skis. (He used a current model of his signature ski, the Faction CT 4.0.) He traveled with 15 pairs, but get this: “I only retired one ski during the entire shoot,” Thovex says. “It was in those giant statues at the beginning of the edit, and I hit a rock and ripped the edge out.” The others only needed small repairs and reconditioning.
For the sand skiing shots, he did use a special sandboarding wax collected from an American company, Doctor Dune. “Skiing sand in midday sun was impossible—the sand becomes hot and abrasive,” Thovex says. “You can only film at certain times of the day.” For the grass shots, his team did some special work (which, again, they won’t divulge) to the edges of his skis to make them glide more easily.
Thovex says they intentionally haven’t released more information about the making of the film—he wants to preserve the mystery. “We will reveal these things in time,” he says.