Cover photo: Phil Mckenzie & Andrew Mildenburger
It’s safe to say there has been a lot of great ski content this fall. There have been movies and shorts to the point where all even the biggest of ski fans could be forgiven for becoming a little jaded. I’ve loved the influx of content, and somehow the level of skiing keeps going up year after year, but if I’m totally honest, not much has inspired me to the point of actually wanting to write about it. CAST, MTL, Bucket Clips, Hypertunnel, Speedbumb2, Soulstar, Y… Why Not (see what I did there?) were all great, incredible even. Soulstar even got that elusive instant rewatch (we watch a lot of skiing over here) but it took a screener of Strictly’s new flick Delete arrived in the inbox to get the proverbial pen moving.
It’s not that Delete is by far and away the best of these movies in skiing terms. There is skiing equally as crazy in all of the aforementioned, perhaps even more so. It’s not even because, for now at least, it’s the last Strictly ski movie. Though that is a significant event because in recent years they have been perhaps the most renowned crew on the North American side of the pond. I wanted to write because knowing this was the last movie, meant that I knew I would be missing something come next fall. It was the feeling that despite the talent on display in so many movies this year, I will truly miss the Strictly combination of the gnarliness of the crew, with proper movie parts, great editing, good music, pro-level production, and above all attention to detail.
Pete's crash on this feature was a heart in mouth moment. Photo: Phil Mckenzie
In Delete, there are no superfluous shots. At 30 minutes, give or take, it feels perfectly judged. It is genuinely funny when it wants to be. The finale, a throwback segment, almost brought a tear to the eye. After several years of making movies, the crew still has that same attitude, that unique blend of energy and skill. It’s perfectly filmed with a variety of angles and (thank fuck) the vast majority is filmed on cameras from this decade. There are artsy shots, but they feel warranted, they add rather than detract from the skiing. As a Brit, thanksgiving isn’t exactly on my radar. But it was the thanksgiving weekend when I checked it out for the first time and this movie made me thankful for the years we’ve had with the Strictly crew.
I’m pretty sure every single person who reads this is going to watch the movie, so I won’t break it down shot by shot but I wanted to add at least something about the skiing. Firstly, Pete, Sam, and Calvin are animals. It is frankly a miracle they’ve made it through this many projects (more or less) intact, another thing to be thankful for. Seamus Flanagan and Ryan Stevenson, more recent additions to the crew, go hard in the paint. Seamus in particular is someone I hope we get to see push it in the streets for years to come. On the backcountry side, Benny Smith is another guy who I truly hope will find his way to another crew because he kills it alongside Thayne Rich.
Trevor joined the crew but no spoilers here. Photo: Phil Mckenzie
But the standout part and ender go to Jonah Williams and it’s about time. Jonah is one of the kindest human beings I’ve come across in the ski industry and he has always had an indomitable style, but I can’t recall ever seeing a segment from him this good. The news that he’s moving on to Rossignol is more than welcome if it gives him more opportunities to film segments like this one.
Delete doesn’t try and reinvent the ski movie. It doesn’t try to be a skate film or an art piece. It’s just a ski movie, properly shot and produced, made for skiers, by skiers. But this format, and this level of quality overall, is becoming a rare thing these days. I hope some of the insanely talented crews out there will watch Delete, and feel inspired to go and make a movie like this of their own. It’s hard. It takes work to package everything this well. To leave a ton of shots on the cutting room floor. To get the shot from multiple angles. To bring a movie together this coherently. To get into the streets and the backcountry. To have a big crew and to bring together their shots into something that represents each of the riders brilliantly and is greater than the sum of its parts. But it's worth it. With so many great skiers and so many banger pieces out there, it has set Strictly apart for years now. The same is true for Delete, it's a level above in my eyes. Guys, you will be truly missed. So long, and thank you.