Words by David Steele

Photos by Gill Montgomer

At ninety degrees and a bit of wind through the green leaves on the maples outside the Emerson Theater in Bozeman, Montana, skiing feels like something that’s cut short by an alarm clock. Walking through the front doors offers the immediate cool of people wearing flat brim caps at tables selling tickets, sweatshirts, skis and the like. Noting the brand names festooned across bright tall tees and more drab attire, the gathering crowd makes the draft coming in the door a little colder. And I can feel it – these people are here to celebrate in the way Warren Miller taught us, to suck the dry summer out of our bones and hope headlong toward snow.

Toy Soldier Productions has found possibly the most stoked home audience in skiing. In a city of only sixty thousand in a state of less than a million, the late show saw every one of the seven hundred and eleven seats filled. In place of pro sports teams, the state embraces its college ones. In place of big name film companies, locals and transplants alike come together to raise the ceiling a few inches with cheers for the guys they see at Moonlight Basin and Cooke City – the volume in Bozeman makes being onstage feel like a wind tunnel.

After the swag toss and a quick raffle, the frozen TSP shirts where handed out to three stoked and shirtless dudes. On emcee Shane Dowaliby’s mark, they began ripping them open and stuffing their arms into the frozen sleeves with skis and a Moonlight Basin season pass on the line.

Frozen tees for skis...

Riders Sam Hurst and Noah Wallace then grabbed the mic to lead possibly the highest decibel acapella version of the national anthem I’ve ever witnessed. Skiers aren’t singers, but the whole auditorium belted it out well enough to make even the most redneck amongst them proud. Graphics master Andy Hahn then pushed the play button, and silence once again disappeared for the next forty-five minutes.

Noah Wallace serenading the crowd with the Star Spangled Banner.

The film, Toy Soldier Productions’ third, moved away from trip-based segments to a focus on individuals. With locations across the western US, they documented a season spent jibbing the gangsterly safe streets of urban locations and making forays into the backcountry. Wooden rails and massive drops saw serious action from the whole crew. This is no soul search into the vibe of backcountry skinning. Nobody camps on a glacier. Thankfully, there’s no sunset kicker session. And if you’re looking for a stylish report from some of the best jibbing talent clicking in, it’s exactly what you’ll find. 

Jake Doan, Sam Hurst and Noah Wallace.

Toy Soldier Productions will be touring throughout North America for the next couple of months, so be sure to check out http://www.toysoldierproductions.com for shows near you or to order the DVD.

Act Natural Trailer