Words by Emma Renly
On the 18th of February 2018 three skiers, Øystein Bråten, Nick Goepper and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand stood tall on the Olympic podium, with gold, silver and bronze medals around their respective necks. Though each skier represented a different nation, all three ride for a single brand: Völkl Skis. That podium sweep solidified what we already knew, Völkl’s competition skiers are at the top of the game.
However, the success of their competition athletes often leads to a misconception that Völkl is only competition brand. Yet, many of skiing’s 'other' big names spend their winters with Völkls on their feet. They are skiers who have made a name for themselves through filming in the streets, backcountry, park and more. For the past decade Völkl has been quietly supporting these sorts of athletes to do what they do best. Ski.
“Völkl has been a key player in all of the film ventures I’ve gone into,” Ahmet Dadali, one of the legends of street skiing, told us. “They have supported me for multiple years without asking an unrealistic amount back.”
After growing up battling ice, rain, negative temperatures and a less-than-stellar park on his local mountain, the east coaster found his way westward to the streets of Utah. Happily, Ahmet found that many other East Coast skiers had trodden this path before him and he found himself skiing with fellow New Yorker Tim Russell “a lot the first year I moved out to Utah.” Both Tim and Ahmet share the privilege of calling Bristol Mountain their home hill and many of the local groms, including Ahmet, grew up idolizing Tim, who was the local ‘big name’ skier at the time. “We were both filming early season with Kyle Decker for Rage Films, and Tim saw the condition of the skis I was on.” At the time, Ahmet’s skis had no edges and were completely delaminated, “basically a piece of wood in the shape of skis,” he joked. “Russell talked to Clem, the Völkl Team Manager at the time, and next thing you know I was on the Völkl Karmas with the promise of filming budget!”
Ahmet quickly proved to be a key member of Völkl’s team with an ever-growing resume of film appearances. He made a name for himself with urban segments in Meathead Films and Rage Films. Invitations from other production companies quickly followed, including Level 1 and Good Company. However, perhaps his largest film venture to date has been La Familia Production Company, his own platform for producing films. ‘La Fam’ initially produced some multi-rider movies, followed by Ahmet’s web series 'Flip the Script' and then, a couple of years down the line, Ahmet’s own full-length project titled Book of Times.
https://www.newschoolers.com/videos/watch/846783/Ahmet-Dadali---Book-Of-TimesAhmet has come a long way from the delaminated, edge-less pair of skis he was using in Utah. “I’ve worked with Völkl to create the ‘Revolt’ ski,” which has become one of their top sellers due to the park and mountain versatility. “The ski was made to match my style of skiing when I didn't necessarily feel that the other skis were perfect for my style,” Ahmet explained. “Now I have a ski that is, and that's because they were more than willing to work with me.”
Ahmet has been on the Völkl team for over ten years now. “It's important to know a brand that you have loyalty to has loyalty back to you, and I feel I have always had that with Völkl. Year after year they have been behind my skiing helping me fund what I do best.” For the upcoming winter, Ahmet has an ambitious filming plan laid out. “I’m buying a van out in Europe, converting it into a livable ski wagon and I’m going to travel all around the different countries in Europe,” he explained. “The idea is to film in the streets, backcountry and parks to make a series of webisodes documenting the adventure of the travels, the skiing, the cultural experience in each different country, and link up with fellow skiers along the way.” We cannot wait to see what he comes up with.
Ahmet styling above Mont Blanc.
Tanner Rainville, another legend of the game, seemingly appears out of nowhere come movie season each year to prove that he is not to be forgotten. The east coaster was once a competition focused park skier but has since turned into a hungry powder-hound with one of the best styles in the game.
Back in 2003 Tanner received his first industry exposure after placing third in slopestyle at the US Open in Vail, Colorado. “That comp was a huge deal back then and gave me credibility,” Tanner told us. “Shortly after, an MSP filmer sent a demo reel of me skiing park in Mammoth to the guys at the MSP office and they liked my stuff - so we kept on filming for the season.” The demo reel led to a park segment in Matchstick’s now iconic 2004 film, Yearbook. “The film certainly had a big effect on my ski career,” he said. Due to the repetitiveness and pressure of the competition scene, Tanner found himself naturally shifting towards a film career. The segments also shifted - they began to feature Tanner moving outside of the park and into big mountain territory popping pillows, blasting through cold smoke and sending off backcountry booters. For the past four years Tanner has been supported by Völkl.
“Völkl has been a huge help. The gear is unbeatable, they continue to innovate and keep the highest quality. I feel very fortunate.”
Tanner Rainville surfing the wave. Photo: Sean Logan.
Most recently, Tanner has been a key part of filming with The Big Picture. “I’ve always loved just skiing around with friends,” Tanner said. “That’s what filming is to me, you’re in the backcountry finding new zones, traveling the world, experiencing new places and culture.” Last year the production company released their full-length movie Lite Years which followed the crew as they traveled throughout the west on skis, snow ponies and helicopters. “Völkl helps out with travel budget for some of the films,” explained Tanner. “Many of the bigger trips cost a lot of money and I wouldn’t be able to make them happen without the help!” As for Tanner’s plans for the upcoming winter? “Ski deep pow whenever I can, CO needs a big winter!”. That it does!
Tanner Rainville skiing some deep pow not in Colorado. Photo: Sean Logan
While all brands have supported these kind of skiers in the past, I'd argue that with some at least, that support is drying up. Volkl are still endeavouring to provide for a generation of upcoming shredders who stay away from the competition spotlight.
For the past six years, Völkl has supported Jeremy Pancras - a freeskier, artist and self-proclaimed loud Frenchman. Despite multiple seasons of injuries coupled with rehabilitation time, Völkl “never let me down the times I was hurt,” and to Jeremy, the company “feels like real family.”
The French skier’s passion for skiing and visual art often intertwine. “I’m as much of a filmer as a skier. One has inspired the other and vice versa, that’s for sure,” he explained. Both his skill on skis and skill behind a camera have been supported. “Völkl has given me full control of my career by letting me do what I wanted, when I wanted it. They followed all of my concepts and ideas.” One of the products of his visual creative streak and their support is the upcoming film Would You, which releases this October. Without giving away too many spoilers, he explains that Would You is “really different from what you guys are used to seeing from the crew and myself,” and that the film is “passion mixed-up with classic ski edits and discussion.” Instead of the usual picture-perfect ski scenes, the film will also illustrate the sacrifices it takes for the skiers to be at top of the game. Would You includes segments from Jeremy as well as other prolific names in the industry.
https://www.newschoolers.com/videos/watch/909769/Would-You---Official-TrailerRather than viewing himself as a singular entity on Völkl’s team, he believes that “all of us together make a full team.” The Frenchman also emphasized the team’s personal involvement in designing the skis. “We get involved in the building and improvement of the skis,” he said. “It’s amazing to take part in the creation such iconic skis. Making skis that help us ride better, it’s the best kind of support.”
Jeremy Pancras flipping out
Tom Ritsch’s name is most often found in edits and movies with unique competitions such as Nine Knights, Sosh Big Air and SLVSH Cup sprinkled in for good measure. Rather than solely focusing on one thing in his ski career, the Austrian found his niche by balancing filming and competing as well as park and backcountry.
Tom has been on the Völkl team for five years since the previous ski company that sponsored him went under. “I have always been a skier that tries to find a mix between filming and competing and luckily that’s what Völkl was looking for at the time,” he said. The company must also have been looking for skiers with some extra flair in their skiing, as Tom has made a name for himself for his stylish tricks in both the park and backcountry.
Tom Ritsch greasing a rail with Fabio Studer. Photo: Pally Learmond
“I used to do more competitions, but over the years I got more and more into filming,” said Tom. “After filming many, many park clips, we started adding backcountry shots to our edits, since I‘ve always been freeriding quite a bit.” Tom plans to continue producing backcountry edits this upcoming winter rather than just park. “In my mind filming in the backcountry is a bigger challenge and a greater team effort and therefore much more rewarding than making a park edit,” he added.
Much like the other team members, Tom is stoked that he is able to contribute to Völkl by “helping develop new skis. We‘re working together as a team and everyone’s opinion gets heard, I like that.” It's a relationship that seems to pay off in terms of allowing classic ski porn output too.
The brand may make headlines for sweeping podiums in high-profile competitions, but if you look closely enough you’ll notice that Völkl are also fundamental in supporting film-orientated ski careers. Regardless of whether their skiers chose to send it in competition or push their owns limits every winter in the streets, park and backcountry, Völkl is allowing skiers of all types to do what they do best, ski.