In the wild backcountry of the Wasatch Mountains in the state of Utah, USA, you’ll find Chad’s Gap, a 120 foot void between two piles of mine tailings. It remained more or less unnoticed until local man Chad Zurinskas saw recognised the untapped potential there for a ski jump of extraordinary proportions. Initially Chad had intended to complete the jump himself, with film-maker Kris Ostness capturing the moment on camera. Unfortunately for Chad, the jump proved too difficult for him, and the first person to land it successfully was Candide Thovex.
At the time, Frenchman Candide was already a respected professional skier who had competed in international halfpipe and quarterpipe contests. So imagine the astonishment of the onlookers present on the day this footage was shot when they learnt that the skier flying through the air with such skill and undeniable style was only fourteen years old. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what they had witnessed.
The film this clip was excerpted from (The Tangerine Dream) was a bona fide smash hit, and is remembered and enjoyed by ski fans to this day, over ten years after its original release. Small wonder, as the film depicts the sense of adventure, fun and tenacity of life as a travelling skier better than perhaps any other.
And of course it also features that amazing jump from a guy who is so young he could have been forgiven if he’d stayed home to finish gluing the wings onto his model aeroplanes. But what was the name of that young man who so greatly impressed everyone present? It was none other than Kye Petersen, who went on to become an established skier in his own right, appearing in at least fifteen ski films. Judging by this footage, that’s not much of a surprise at all.