Words by Dana Flahr
Photos by Luke Groenewoud
The seventh annual Freshtival in Calgary went off with a bang again this year as hundreds of people filed into the Uptown Theatre, several times a day, for three days straight.
Here to catch all the premieres of the new ski flicks, get autographed posters of the pros in attendance, and get their stoke on for the winter were all the ski die hards from anywhere within a few hundred miles, and more. Pro skiers also in attendance included JP Auclair, Mike Douglas, Rory Bushfield, TJ Schiller, Chris Rubens, Sean Pettit, Callum Pettit, Mike Henitiuk, Phil Casabon, Eric Pollard, and John McMurray (who is now a hip hop artist, and was handing out his new album by Loose Canon Playaz called "Dying to Live the Dream").
...and autographs from the author of this story.
We all signed a crap load of posters, attended the infamous Freshtival parties, and got extremely pumped for winter while watching all the throw downs of last season. The films included almost everything that was released this fall, including Teton Gravity Research's Re:Session that kicked off the weekend, Poor Boyz Productions Everyday is a Saturday, Matchstick Productions In Deep, Nimbus Independent's Contrast, Empire Productions' Transitions, and the documentary of Kye Petersen planning out and skiing the run in Chamonix, France that his father was killed on, The Edge of Never, plus many more.
Cup stacking for free skis...
Doing the worm for a free jacket...
A Slurpee chugging contest...
...and of course, a good ol' fashioned swag toss.
The whole reason this amazing ski film festival happens every year is because of one man, Steve Saranchuk, the owner of Fresh Sports. Fresh is the only ski shop in Calgary (and one of the only shops in Canada) to dedicate his entire store to freeskiing. It is seriously a breath of fresh air to walk into his store. On top of that, Steve got super sick last year and spent the ski season in and out of the hospital with surgery and treatments, but he didn't even hesitate to organize another Freshtival.
The Fresh staff, with founder and owner Steve Saranchuk on the right.
Steve gets in on the product toss.
Always my favorite night of the Freshtival is where Steve takes all the pros and shop employees out for a super classy dinner at a high end restaurant called The Muse. We get to eat like kings, enjoy an open bar, and hang with some of our favorite friends in the ski industry. At midnight we found out it was TJ Schiller's birthday, which he tried to keep quiet. Well, that didn't work so well, since he told one person (I think it was me).
Birthday boy TJ Schiller & Chug
But I'm not sure if we're getting old, or just smarter, but it didn't even get too crazy. However, there was one shot taken by all, and that was for Mr. Shane McConkey. Ironically, Mike D informed us Shane was the first guy to pretend to do a shot, but actually just toss it over his shoulder. He said Shane made Mike look like a party animal. I guess it's no surprise coming from one of the smartest and most focused people in the history of the sport. Needless to say, probably the most inspiring segment of the whole weekend was Shane's closer in MSP. The audience got to relive Shane's best moments of the last ten years or so, as well as the funniest.
Callum Pettit & Mike Douglas
A few other highlights for me from all the movies (but not just me, this is judging from overall crowd reaction over the weekend) was Callum Pettit's hole-in-one style crevasse burial in a soon-to-be famous clip from Re:Session (this should honestly be on one of those crazy videos "Caught on Tape" style TV shows), Eric Hjorleifson's ridiculous big mountain slaying (MSP should have actually edited his shots all together, because his skiing is so next level the entire time, it just doesn't get the overall impression it deserves because it is so spread out throughout the movie), and Tim Durtchi's closing segment in the Poor Boyz' Every Day Is A Saturday. Not to take anything away from everyone else, because the skiing in PBP is so high level, but Durtchi is so strong, smooth, and innovative, he really did have to go last because he makes practically everyone else's segment look same-old same-old.
Next year, it's on, all over again.