Think only snowboarders can ride rails or pull massive air topped off with a faultless backflip? Still see skiing as a dignified, relatively sedate sport for the well-heeled? In their aptly titled movie Six Years, which documents six years of revolutionising the rapidly developing sport of freeskiing, the Freeski Crew throw all of these preconceptions out of the window. They’re frontrunners in a sport which has been ripping up the boundaries between skiing and snowboarding since the late 90s, when some skiers started to pick up on the more radical approach snowboarders were using, and decided to experiment with a similar style themselves.
Based in Innsbruck, Austria, but originally from Germany, the Freeski Crew guys are a pretty egalitarian bunch. Their motto is ‘the mountains shall bring peace to the people’. All very well, you might say, but have you seen me ski? If most of us tried any of the phenomenal stunts these guys manage with such apparent ease, the only peace we’d be experiencing would be morphine induced and on a hospital ward.
These guys are having none of it. As far as they’re concerned, their brand of mountaintop mastery can be accomplished by anyone, and kicking off the team’s Six Years movie are the videos of their earliest tentative steps on the slopes to prove it. Professional skiers are not exactly known for their humility, so it’s refreshing to be reminded that they they started off with the same basic lessons as everybody else. Even the footage of their early tricks and jumps from ten years later look doable, so maybe this whole freeskiing lark isn’t so unattainable for the rest of us after all? Then again, based on the freakishly impressive skills on display in the rest of the movie, perhaps not.