TANNER HALL: ROAD TO REDEMPTION
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One of the more stalwart freeskiers to come out of Canada, Alex Bellemare, has just dropped a short film directed by Xavier Mayrand that offers “a reflective recap of an unusual season.” And being that the Quebec-based style master has been turning heads in the terrain park and streets for many a moons now, we opted to hop on the horn with him to chat about the video, his season, transitioning away from competing, what’s next for him, and more.
What prompted you to put this video together?
Mostly Xavier [Mayrand]. I’m not sure how we first linked up, but we filmed a few times together during the winter and just stacked clips. Then Covid came around and halted everyone’s season, so we thought it’d be dope to make a short film with what we had.
Will it be the first of some kind of series or annual season recap edit?
That’s the plan. I don’t know how many, but the goal for this season is to make season recaps.
Being that it has somewhat of a videoblog type of feel to it, was the theme inspired by something or someone in particular?
Yes and no. The videoblog feel wasn’t really what we were aiming for, but Xavier was strongly inspired by Phil [Casabon] and Brady [Perron]’s recent offerings, so he suggested we include storytelling while trying to showcase who I am as a person. We wanted to make it more about Alex, and less about Bellemare, if you know what I mean.
The edit obviously does a good job of showcasing your love of your home province of Quebec. Was it important for you to include that, and if so, why?
Kind of. I’ve always been way too comfortable at home, and used to get somewhat homesick whenever contest trips lasted over three weeks. So filming everything and giving off the vibes that are showcased in the video just came naturally.
If you had to pick just one, what would you say was the biggest highlight of last winter for you?
Finishing my never-ending renovations at home! But in all seriousness, probably the invite to [Tom] Wallisch’s rail jam. I felt very flattered to be given a shot at glory once again and to be acknowledged as a good enough rail skier to get an invite. Also, not only was the event well organized, with lodging and transportation taken care of, but I was delighted to see some of the boys I used to see every other weekend a year prior to that.
You’re one of the more accomplished and veteran competitors in freeskiing, but seem to have shied away from the competition scene. What made you decide to make a change?
My disinterest for contests had been slowly growing on me. I loved travelling here and there, lacing runs, and having a shot at podiums every weekend, but by 2017, that just wasn’t my reality anymore. I got overly conscious of everything that could go wrong and just lost my confidence. That, combined with the constantly elevating level of competing, just made me feel out of place. I had always told myself I’d never do this if I wasn’t a podium contender, so I called it quits. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it tore me apart for quite some time, but I knew that’s where I was in my life. It’s a little more complex than that obviously, but that’s the idea.
Moving forward, what do you hope to continue accomplishing and/or accomplish next in your now longstanding career as a professional freeskier?
I really want to go back to how I started: filming. It’s an aspect of skiing that I grew up with, and which I kind of tossed aside due to competing, but never really stopped loving. Whether it’s to create a movie, a post on social media, or both, I’m not sure, but I know I want to film skiing. I’m having a great time doing it, and as long as I have support I don’t ever really see myself stopping. Unless I start a band… but that’s not coming along really well.
What would you like people to take away from this video?
I want them to know that the name of the tree is Ungali. I also really wanted this video to be a representation of my 2020 season. I feel like I’ve done many things over the years, but apart from contest runs scattered across the internet, I don’t really have anything to remind me of what I’ve been through, both good and bad. So this video, to me, is kind of the immortalization of memories.
And lastly, what should everyone expect next from you, both from this winter and beyond?
We’re planning on filming a whole lot more, and the goal is to get back to skiing urban. It’s hard work, which kind of bums me out, but the shots are way worth it and Xavier is down, so that’ll be the plan. I might also link up with the infamous ‘’Backcountry Bellemare’’ if everything goes as planned. I recently spoke with him, and he cannot wait to tomahawk down steep hills, so that’s something I’m hyped on.