The very first time in your career as an athlete that you get to take part in a sunset shoot is intoxicating.
The fact that you take exclusivity, blend it with the most perfect light you've ever seen and add in a couple of skiers rapidly rising in the industry leads to a feeling of elation that is impossible for the average person to comprehend. That perfect set of circumstances came together tonight at the Windells Sunset Shoot.
As I sit on the rocks above the big jump, the boys are hiking to the top of the lane to get the few last warm up hits before the session comes to life. You're alone up here which is a weird feeling - a mountain feels extremely empty when the general public is gone and the hustle and bustle of a ski resort is all shut down.
There's a lot of standing around and trying to figure out how to use the small amount of time we have. We wait in anticipation, waiting for word we're ready to go... and after waiting, hiking, getting hungrier, its on. The first feature is chosen, the iNi rail and Noah sets the bar with back four off. Swadburg and Williams exclaim "well there goes my plan" and chuckle. The first slice of energy of these four athletes feeding off each other comes out, and the session is on.
Noah Wallace setting the bar
The rail is set up as a high drop with a big ollie on. Both Noah and Jonah laced back 6 out, but Swadburg was struggling a bit stating that he had too many different tricks in his head yet sadly didn't manage to put one down. Its very difficult in these situations to perform. This is what separates the pros from the ams, and sometimes you're in the game and sometimes you aren't. The mental game is very real, and when you start off struggling, it can throw the whole night off.
Jonah with the Back 6 out
Reed Lewis decided he wanted to get creative and topped off the rail session by hitting the quarter pipe low down and busting a huge 180 to the backside of the jump landing. It was a sight to see, but you'll have to wait for the edit to come out before you get to check it. :) Reed is one crazy bastard and I love it.
With that, it was a unanimous decision to move onto the big jump.
It's important to note that every hit is extremely important right now - not only are the riders hiking the jump, the sun is sinking like an egg timer reminding you that once it's gone this is over. It takes a very special type of person and a very talented athlete to produce great content with a thos on their minds. Swadburg already a little mixed up from the rail session was looking for redemption on the next feature.
Redemption he did have.
Things started warming up with some flowy cork 5s out of Jonah, Swadburg and Reed - with Noah getting techy on a bio 9... Swadburg instantly snapping right back into the game and showing he's the heavy hitter I saw back at Superpark. Jonah Williams was on absolute fire - as he basically always is these days - doing tricks that could cook an egg on your brain.
Ethan Swadburg has some serious style
It's amazing how fast the riders hike as more and more tricks get landed - while the sun sets more and more every run. The feeling of urgency and stoke for the media they are creating fuels the fire in the riders. Lap after Lap, the riders do the grueling hike all the way back up to the top of the jump - racing to take just one more hit before the immaculate light goes away.
Reed Lewis was especially hungry, throwing a massive assortment of tricks, though my favorite was his Cork 5.
Reed Lewis bleeding style with a Cork 5 Trailing Blunt
It's always amazing to watch athletes feed off of each other. Especially a big jump session - there truly is nothing else like it in the world. The consequences are so high for everyone, and the bar is getting edged further and further with each hit. I love the vibe at a shoot, because it isn't the hardest trick that wins - it's the one that is the most pleasurable to watch on camera. Style wins, and you get a wicked mixture of everything from zeros right up to triples.
The session wrapped up with a few quick hits on the Quarterpipe, but I feel like I've given away too much already. You're going to have to wait for the edit to drop.
Shoutout to the boys who made it happen, and shoutout to Windells for inviting us up. Watch out for these skiers - mark my words you're seeing the new generation of top level pros right here.