Words and photos: Rom Marcucci

Ambition, desire, fun, talent, youth, experience, attitude, knowledge, image, soul.  LINE’s spring photo shoot brought together a host of diverse personalities who have virtually nothing in common besides their passion for skiing, united in one purpose: shaping the future of LINE. Skiing creates a unique world. What other topic can a mortgage broker and a 14-year-old high schooler discuss so passionately? In a locker room, the bad boy with the huge gold chain would probably be giving the little freshman a wedgie. In the park, he’s giving him props.

Our group assembled in Tahoe last week. The gang consisted of LINE’s talented soon to be’s: Max Hill and Joe Schuster (the Canucks), Miles Honens, Joss Christiensen and Chris Laker (the young guns), Peter Kukesh (the local talent), Little Jon, Will Wesson, and Giray Dadali (the east coast workhorses), and Garrett Russell (the man). 

Garrett Russell warming up: tweaker mute 3

To capture the talent, Jay Michelfelder from Freeskier and local photo phenom Greg Martin were in the house. In charge of motivational speaking, graphic development, prototyping, and generally keeping everything on point were Jason Levinthal and new Team Manager Josh Malczyk. In-house product and graphic designers, Andy, Eben, and Nathan rounded out Line internal.

Greg Martin, getting that shot

Even after months of planning, things still managed to go awry.  Imagine how complicated it is to create 15 new ski prototypes, hundreds of new graphic samples, ship all of next years skis to California, mount them, and get 10 skiers, 3 designers, 2 marketing dudes, 2 photographers, and a videographer across state and international borders. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to deal with any of this. I only had to drive five minutes to get to the LINE house for the week, a mansion overlooking Lake Tahoe with all the amenities you could want, including endless food, a hot tub, and stuffed deer head.

Giray looking funny while eating.  The easiest photo in the book to get.

Thankfully the carnage was relatively minor. There were two injuries prior to arrival: Joe Schuster was sporting a broken collarbone and was there to look ‘hard’ for the lifestyle shoot. Peter Kukesh severely sliced his hand and had surgery. He still managed to ski sans poles. Then there were the typical airline troubles, Will was trapped in LAX for a while. LJ lost his bags somewhere between New Hampshire and Reno, rendering him even smellier than normal.

Giray boosted this jump so hard he knocked the E in LINE down…seriously

We spent the first two days of the shoot at Squaw. Day one was spent getting the kinks worked out and testing tons of new products. Andy and Eben from LINE hq spent the previous month designing and hand pressing 15 one of a kind prototype skis. Each ski is totally unique and the only one in existence that will ever be made that way. Needless to say, there are going to be some very unique new skis coming from LINE in the near future. 

Max Hill made the trip from the mean streets of Whistler to get shot into the sun.

That evening we moved out of the sun and into the garage for the lifestyle photoshoot, capturing next year’s tees, hoodies and hats. 

Santa managed to stop by with some gifts

Quote of the shoot goes to Joe:  “I’m going to be drinking motor oil while being lit on fire.  That’s hard as f…”

Squaw Valley graciously hosted the LINE crew again for day two. They created a massive three jump line, a host of unique jibs, and a specially built quarterpipe for our evening shoot. Giray was absolutely slaying the jump line, Garrett’s unique style shined through all day, and Max crushed the evening quarterpipe. The young guns were killing it all shoot.  These 14 to 16 year olds are skiing at a level comparable to top pros only a few years ago. It is going to be shocking to see how far they are able to push the sport of skiing.

Max Hill: gold chain and flannel: the only thing missing is the Canadian passport

Joss and Max prepare for the evening session with Tom Richards, Squaw’s park mastermind doing the towing

Max and Garrett

Max hitched one last ride up in the pitch black for Michelfelder to get the shot

With so much to do, we met to discuss the new prototype skis into the small hours of the morning after the shoot. This is where new ideas for skis are born. LINE is making a ton of progress developing what has always made the company famous: groundbreaking, unique new ski designs. Everyone contributed their diverse opinions to the discussion of the 15 new skis.

The product meeting in full swing: note cards and beers or sodas are locked and loaded.

One of the funnier moments came when Josh was comparing one of the new prototypes to the Invader. Lil Jon stands up and starts flipping out. He picks up his phone and is pretending to talk to the Invader. Then he hangs up, and yells across the room. “Hey Josh, that was Invader on the phone. She says you only had one date and it was a ten stair down rail. That’s not even first base!”

Invader on the phone

The following day we headed over to Boreal for day three of shooting. Snowboard Superpark had just happened and we were lucky enough to session the leftovers. Unfortunately, high winds plagued the shoot that day so relegating us to the most sheltered feature. But what a feature it was. Two tombstone’s twenty feet high were separated by a smaller quarterpipe with a lift tower jib spanning the abyss. 

The groms take a break from homework to slay the beast

Little Jon and Will Wesson, claming to “not be transition riders” decided to misty flip and tail bonk an nearby tree rather than hit the qp extensively.

Meanwhile, the other ubertalents made quick work of the feature. Garrettt continued to prove he can handplant whatever he wants. Peter managed to hit the feature with one hand, and Joss did some sick 180’s over the entire thing into the backside.

Garrett on his handplant reign of terror

LJ attempts to take out ape man with a snowball: King Kong style

Unfortunately tragedy struck shortly thereafter. Max, who was absolutely boosting all day, went about 15 feet out of the tombstone, decked in the central portion 20 feet down, and landed on his shoulder 35 feet below the height of his apex, severely breaking his collarbone. 

Max just before impact

This seriously took the gas out of the quarterpipe session and the group soon thereafter proceeded to the bottom of the hill for more lifestyle and rail shots. 

The LINE team getting way tech with a 50-50 high five through the kink

Miles Honens trapped inside the short bus

Standard LINE photoshoot protocol: Athletes act like goofballs, Josh attempts to organize, photo dude with fancy strobes gets the shot, dude without fancy strobes stands in background and tries to take a non blurry photo in very low light

Max spent a few hours in the hospital and rejoined us that evening, in pain yet feeling the effects of American painkillers. He seemed happy to have outdone his fellow Canadian Joe in the broken collarbone/hard-man competition.

That night we rounded out the intense three days with an art concept meeting.  Unfortunately, I can’t show you what is going to be happening, but let’s just leave it of by saying things are looking very, very dope.

Checking out the concepts for two years out.  They are top secret, so I decided to cover them with cute smiling shhhhhh faces.

After some vehicle shuffling and goodbyes, the LINE team retreated to their respective corners of the continent, leaving behind another successful shoot, the best result of which are yet to come.