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The Outsider: Marcus Eder’s The Ultimate Run celebrates everything skiing

Ski movies have had to evolve quite a bit over the last decade or so. They used to be about showing what new types of terrain people were skiing. Then it became what kind of tricks and style people could show in that terrain.
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Marcus Eder skis through glacial features near Zermatt, Switzerland while filming The Ultimate Run. 

Ski movies have had to evolve quite a bit over the last decade or so. They used to be about showing what new types of terrain people were skiing. Then it became what kind of tricks and style people could show in that terrain. Now, it’s about entertaining the audience—as much as showing them rad skiing—with cohesive story, real human character, unique adversity or some other such quality. 

In the era of YouTube and RedBull TV, having a series of impressive segments is no longer enough to lift the standard of ski films. 

I was lucky enough to work with The Blank Collective over the summer of 2021 to sharpen the story elements of Tales from Cascadia. While this crew of Sea-to-Sky locals didn’t have the travel and production budget of the big ski media production houses, with a distinct look and feel of the film, Blank managed to nab Best Film at the IF3 awards this year. 

Such an achievement for a grassroots group of Whistler skiers gives me hope that good ski films—ones where you buy a ticket to a premiere and sit tight for 45 minutes—won’t simply fade into the ether of YouTube segments and other free streaming services.

But all ski films have their work cut out for them now. If you haven’t watched Marcus Eder’s The Ultimate Run yet, take the 10 minutes to watch it on YouTube now. This is the kind of video experience that I don’t want to spoil for you.

The majority of The Ultimate Run is filmed on location in and around Eder’s home resort of Klausberg in the Südtirol-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. From atop a peak, Eder executes his dream ski run. It’s not filmed as a one-shot or anything, the entire project actually took a couple of seasons to capture. But every scene, from the backcountry alpine glaciers to the resort groomers to the alpine village “street” skiing is edited seamlessly and cohesively. And it’s filmmaker Christoph Thoresen’s directorial and editing decisions that make that all come together. Eder is the star, but Thoresen is the engineer of The Ultimate Run.

One of the things I (and from what I’ve heard, plenty of other skiers) enjoyed the most about watching this YouTube video was spotting all the previous ski film influences. The biggest is arguably JP Auclair’s street segment from Sherpas Cinema’s All.I.Can. Auclair was one of skiing’s great polymaths who also had a very skilled eye for film, a quality that has become more and more important for athletes. Eder’s freestyle skiing through a high-mountain village, an ageing mining town and medieval castle doesn’t quite have that same dirty rawness that we saw from Auclair in Trail, B.C., but it does perfectly segue the transition from a modern resort to an ancient urban landscape.

The next biggest influence I would hazard to list is pretty much every film project by Candide Thovex. Ski the World, an advertising partnership with Audi, was great at showing how the best skiers can ski anything (Thovex skied on pretty much every surface except snow in that film), but it was the single-run flow of the One of those Days series that felt the most familiar while I was watching The Ultimate Run. Eder’s stylistic aerials, the group big air scene through the terrain park and butter smooth transitions between man-made and natural surfaces definitely does Thovex’s preceding work justice.

The final influence I would name is the mid-2000s era of Seth Morrison and Shane McConkey. These skiers made flipping (back or forward, it didn’t seem to matter) over 30-metre (100-foot) cliffs look like a Lakeside Bowl Booterville session. Eder took that type of balls-out big mountain skiing high onto the Zermatt Glacier, flowing off massive seracs with off-axis spins and landing effortlessly. He does have a crash on one particularly sketchy feature (after which he dusts himself off and keeps skiing), a part that was intentionally left in to demonstrate that Eder is actually a human under all that Gore-Tex. 

Every ski film strives to be more than the sum of its parts. The Ultimate Run not only rethinks how we can approach skiing in the mountains in the modern era, it inspires us to achieve our own ultimate ski run, whatever that may look like. 

Vince Shuley is getting a wee bit excited for skiing. For questions, comments or suggestions for The Outsider email vince.shuley@gmail.com or Instagram @whis_vince

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