Cover: Giles and Remco wondering if they should have handed out waivers
Since ski movie season and with it, a plethora of banger crew made films, I’ve had a half-written and unedited article about the current crew mentality in skiing, its resurgence and how we need them now more than ever to keep the culture alive. While this piece never really made it out of the gates and sat forlornly in the back of my mind/G Drive for winter it now seems appropriate to bring some of those thoughts back out of the woodwork in the wake of the truly insane Buldoz invitational. This crew have been doing something special for a few winters now, with creativity and style merged seamlessly. CHARGEUR blew everyone away and regular content from Remco, Gilles, Yohan, Sampo and Jaques this winter has been keeping our feeds fresh. They even made an urban part in Madrid when it got snow...
Alongside a bumper crop of crew content this winter we’ve also had somewhat of a renaissance of the invitational event in Europe; Tanner Hall stressed that it’s a much easier place to put events together than the US in the run-up to his Nendaz Invitational. Since then we’ve also had Hanka’s event in Czech, Buldoz Leysin takeover and also an upcoming Forre shindig that will hopefully reignite some Ski Or Die vibes. The projects released by everyone present have been some of the communities favourites this winter and in man previous too. So many invitational events focus on athletes and while this has its focus on riders it's also celebrating one of the most vibrant aspects of the scene right now; the crew. It's giving back to those that have given plenty for the love of skiing and that's the good shit right there.
While I won’t wax too lyrical about what’s good for culture or is ‘core’ here because the main purpose of these words is to hype up the Buldoz boys and share a slice of the madness that went down in Leysin last weekend, but it can’t be ignored that this kind of event is good for skiing and skiers. Khai Mahler said it made him feel like it was the good ol' days and I think those that have participated in the invitationals of those days felt the same.
Basically, every crew there is, aside from The Bunch, was present; Keesh, Forre, Eppern and the Dudes, Suede, Zootspace and a strong female contingent including Taylor Brooke, McKenna Brown, Margeux Hackett, Rosina Friedel and Alice Michel. We were all hosted under one roof in a hotel containing a games room and its own club space… it’s safe to say this was one heavy weekend.
Increasingly the content we enjoy the most and look forward to with the most excitement is produced by those invited to this event. In my unfinished article, I mused on the idea that high production value films such as TGR and MSP are becoming less and less anticipated. It’s their smaller counterparts producing unique and interesting content that is really shining through in the community. Remco and Buldoz are giving back to these skiers and crews. Everyone was so stoked to be involved in a laidback event and comparisons to Kimbo were often made.
It's hard to quantify or accurately describe a 'vibe' although I've somewhat made it my calling to do just that. Below is a little outline of what I experienced and a bit of hype for what we got to witness. At the bottom of the hill, a bar ran by Movement skis served beers and Caipirinhas with DJ decks spinning as well as an endless supply of El Tony Maté. Dakine also pulled up to help pull off an epic week such as this.
We didn't have too much luck on the weather front, an eerie fog remained present almost for the duration. This didn't stop things from getting rowdy. We also learned that EZ Panda can spit some serious fire in French - I can't vouch for the lyricism as my French doesn't extend that far - but it was sick nonetheless.
EZ Panda on the mic with Oliver Hoblitzelle
While my European travels have been somewhat taxing and a travel day from Tignes to Leysin meant I missed the first day of on-hill shenanigans. A huge shame. Although the weather rolled in for the weekend - typical, the fifth snowfall of Swiss winter falls on a spring park invitation (and subsequently Audi Nines - the crews showed up and went HAM. Those that caught the Instagram coverage will have seen skiers making the most of what they had. A piste sign and a table to be exact. Things got rowdy, P-Bone zero’d the sign, Harald Hellstrom backflipped it at the third time of asking, after two heavy slams, and the session was on fire, by the end of the day quite literally.
Day 2 saw the crew battle with a basic format outlined by Remco at the start, get into teams of 4 and mob through the park, getting as close to each other as possible and being creative. About 15 minutes into these antics we’d almost seen a few fatalities. Well, not quite but Remco did start to regret not handing out waivers before outlining the contest details. In the end, the Swedes from Suede took the W at the crew battle and they won some dope medals and a very large, err… cigarette.
In between madness on the hill there was madness in the hotel but I guess I can leave some of that to your imagination. What happens in the Leysin Sport Hotel stays in the Leysin sport hotel.
Suede (Benjamin Carlund, Joel Magnusson & Determig Jonathan) collecting their prizes
On the third day, the boys bought some cash to exchange for tricks. The bottom two rails features were the focus, the S to Down (which spat out one journalist more than a couple of times) and the FDFD, they were right in front of the bar and DJ and easily hikeable making them perfect for a rowdy rail session. This was also the public day for the invitational. It’s so sick to see the youth in the park getting inspired, one little ripper skied the S to Down all day, a park rat for life no doubt.
Remco ready with the cheddar
As the format of the event was loose there wasn’t too much in the way of prizegiving as the crew battle medals had been handed out the night before. All that was left was the MVP and best slam awards. The former was rightfully awarded to Aleksander Kongelf for crushing everything (yes even cans) all week. Well deserved, Aleksander skied with style and purpose on all the features and was also a great presence on the hill. Harald Hellstrom took the bounty for the best bail, under rotating a backflip off the whale tail box and subsequently spending most of the night in the hospital. Here comes another shoutout to Remco for sticking with him through this one.
MVP and Remco hug it out after a sendy week
By the end of winter, this will have been the fourth new invitational event that Europe has seen. This resurgence of riders and crew oriented events bodes well for the future of our sport. Athletes being brought together by athletes to do their favourite thing at the end of a long hard winter of competing or filming really is a light at the end of the (albeit fairly bright) tunnel for skiers. The fact that there is support for this kind of event is reassuring and it's eye-opening to see what it means to everyone when something like this is pulled off with as much finesse as this.
Thanks for having me lads, I think I'm still recovering...