The idea seemed simple — albeit far-fetched — enough: Capture skiers against the background of a lunar eclipse. The execution? Well, that was another story entirely. That involved flying halfway around the globe and then snowmobiling well into the Arctic Circle, battling polar bears and temperatures 30 degrees below zero to ski mountains blasted by midwinter snowstorms.
But a crew of 10, including pro skiers Cody Townsend, Brody Levin and Chris Rubens, traveled to Svalbard, Norway, to do just that. Six months later, those efforts paid off, as last week their Salomon Freeski TV film, Eclipse, took home Best in Snow at the 2015 Banff Mountain Film Festival.
“So many people were telling us not to go,” says Townsend, whose 2015 solo project, Conquering the Useless, took home an award at the Fernie Ski & Board Film Fest on the exact same day. “Sometimes the more absurd the idea, the more harebrained and wild it seems, if it’s successful, it’s really, really successful.”
Eclipse started as a dream of ski photographer Ruben Krabbe to shoot skiers during the lunar eclipse. That dream turned into an obsession, and that obsession turned into an unlikely journey to the top of the world. Svalbard is considered one of the northernmost communities on Earth, and its population of just over 2,600 is said to be outnumbered by the region’s polar bears.
I never would have guessed that I, after attending tour stops of the Banff Mountain Film Festival for the past 15-20 years, would be IN one of the movies. I REALLY never would have guessed that I would go TO @thebanffcentre for that movie's world premiere, during the festival, in Banff, Canada. And I really REALLY never would have guessed that said film would WIN the Best Snow Film category at the festival. …But, those things all happened yesterday, and @anthonybonello, @mikedski, & @bjarnesalen get my respect for the work that they put into the project. @chrisrubens and @codytownsend were great characters, and @salomonfreeski deserves a lot of credit for supporting such a wild, visionary idea of (photographer) @reubenkrabbe's. The full film is released FREE online tomorrow. Stay tuned right here for the link tomorrow morning. The earlier you watch it tomorrow morning, the earlier you can tell your friends, the earlier they'll thank you.
The frozen archipelago is also home to an impressive array of untamed peaks and bucket-list first descents, the ultimate selling point for a trio of adventure skiers in a globalized industry.
“This may be the first, and last, time in history this will ever be done,” said Townsend in an Instagram post about his Svalbard experience.
The 32-minute feature film is part of Salomon and Switchback Entertainment’s Salomon Freeski TV series, and was released online for free today. Fortunately for your digits, and unlike the 10 that pushed to the ends of the Earth to make it happen, this adventure is only a click away.
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