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Maury Young Arts Centre to screen two new ski films this month

Stoke the Fire and The Stomping Grounds will be screened on Oct. 16 and 22, respectively
TGR stoke the fire Photo courtesy of Teton Gravity Research
Teton Gravity Research athlete John Collinson gets some air while filming Stoke the Fire earlier this year.

Back in their hometown of Invermere, B.C., Christina Lustenberger and Ian McIntosh once again stare up at the east face of Mount Nelson—something they’ve done thousands of times before while learning to ski in the small mountain town. But this time is different. This time they stare with the knowledge that they will be the first ones ever to ride it.

“I mean, even talking about it [now], I still get goosebumps. It was such an exciting day for us,” says Lustenberger about her and McIntosh having the chance to conquer the mountain’s peak for a section in Teton Gravity Research’s (TGR) new film Stoke the Fire.

“I had thought about what it would be like to put it all together and put tracks down its face, but everything about that day and leading up to it, I couldn’t have imagined it better or have executed it in a better style with a better partner, so I think it definitely has exceeded any preconceived dreams or thoughts I’ve had about that peak.”

Stoke the Fire follows 20 skiers through their excursions in a handful of places across North America including Revelstoke, Mount Dunkirk and Mount Nelson in B.C., Jackson Hole, Wyo., and other locations in Montana and Alaska.

After TGR’s last couple of films tackled deeper philosophical themes in the world of skiing, Stoke the Fire, one of two new ski movies coming to the Maury Young Arts Centre this month, focuses on the lighter side of the sport and the joy that comes with it while asking the question: what does “the stoke” mean to you?

“It’s just that feeling, the stoke. It’s funny, it’s hard to even describe, it’s that feeling of pure joy and happiness, I guess, and it’s taking pure joy and happiness and turning it up to 11,” says McIntosh.

“It’s that kind of feeling that makes you want to yell. You can feel stoke whether you are pushing yourself out on a blue run or you are bagging a first descent somewhere in the world. But I think anyone that gets outside and loves to play in the outdoors has had those moments.”

The second film being shown at Maury Young Arts Centre, The Stomping Grounds, is a Matchstick Productions (MSP) creation aiming to tackle that same backyard adventure feeling that Lustenberger and McIntosh experienced while filming Stoke the Fire in their hometown.

According to the film’s director Scott Gaffney, the idea behind The Stomping Grounds came together much like how Lustenberger and McIntosh wound up on Mount Nelson. With the COVID-19 restrictions making travel difficult, MSP skiers wanted to stay close to home and just like that, the theme of exploring your own backyard was born.

“I have one line toward the end of the movie about exploring the cracks and crevices of what you call home and basically that’s just trying to take a different perspective and look at things for what they are and appreciate everything that’s there,” says Gaffney.

“You know the old saying stop and smell the roses? Well, if you do that and slow down and look around there is a lot more available to you that we could kind of make use of and really enjoy.”

The Stomping Grounds explores the terrain of several North American ski resorts through the eyes of those who live there and ride them the most. Locations include Whistler, Lake Tahoe, Calif., Sun Valley, Idaho and even a section from Norway filmed by a Norwegian crew.

But despite all the world-class mountains explored by the athletes in the film, Gaffney says that the highlight actually came from Shames Mountain, just outside Terrace, B.C. where they had a chance to ride with a local ski legend, Adrien Grabinski.

“This guy is basically an unknown, he’s a ski patrol director and he ends up just ruling this segment with Mark Abma,” says Gaffney. “He’s kind of the grunt guy behind the scenes of the whole workings of Shames but we heard he was a ripper and we set it up ahead of time that they were going to take him heli-skiing. But he had no idea, and these guys presented the idea to him after skiing with him for a couple days at Shames. It was a pretty cool moment in the movie.”

When asked what they hope viewers take away from their films both Gaffney and Stoke the Fire producer Charlotte Percle had the same answer. They just want people to leave the screening excited to hit the mountains and explore their own backyards this ski season.

“No matter what will be going on in the world, we are still going to be able to go ski with our friends. And if not, you can still go outside and be in the outdoors which is the most important part of what we do anyways,” says Percle. “Just remembering that there will always be a day where you can find joy some way with your friends is the essence of what we were trying to do.”

The screenings of Stoke the Fire will take place Saturday Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. for all ages and again at 9:30 p.m. for viewers 19 years of age and older.

The Stomping Grounds will be screened the following Friday, Oct. 22 with showings at 7 p.m. for the general public and 9:30 p.m. for viewers 19 and up.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.showpass.com/o/arts-whistler/.