Lifted: Pep Fujas tells the story of how one of the sport's legends came to be. Part one delves into the origins of Pep as a person, and Pep as a skier.
If there's one thing to take away from this episode, other than a nice origin-story for one of the most influential skiers ever, it's that man, it doesn't hurt to take a chance. Like so many of freeskiing's greats, Pep's ascension through the sport began with a move away from the rigid, scrutinized world of competitive skiing (in this case, moguls; in others, racing) into the fast, loose sphere of freeskiing. And that makes sense. This whole sport involves riding the line between control and chaos. The best make it look easy, and the rest of us have spent the past 15 years trying to follow suit. So whether it was heading to summer camp in Whistler, or gapping onto a rail for the first time at Paraksaurus, Pep's brilliance began with his willingness to roll the dice. And that willingness is helped by the fact that he's really fucking good at skiing.
So maybe it follows that in VICE's return to documenting skiing, they would start with Pep. Because in the end all of this is kind of a roll of the dice. FREE was a gamble, and it sucked, but I've spilled enough ink on that to leave it alone. But this thing with Pep - a multi-part biography mixing family photos and archival footage and all that - hasn't really been tried, outside of the suddenly-too-late retrospectives that honor freeskiing's dead greats. There are no real guarantees when you're starting out, and sometimes it takes a farm boy from Oregon to show you how it's done.
So anyway, Lifted is good. I'm not going to call it all time just yet - the commentary is straightforward and predictable enough - but it's good. It's simple and informative and it lets people like me, who were fresh out of kindergarten when guys like Pep were transforming skiing into freeskiing, see where it all began.