Freshtival, Canada’s longest-running freeski film festival, threw down in Cow Town, Alberta (aka Calgary) for its 12th triumphant time last weekend.
Over the course of three days, 13 films were screened, including Inspired Media Concepts’ In Search (Kye Petersen’s solo project), Nimbus Independent’s After The Sky Falls, Teton Gravity Research’s Paradise Waits, Inflik Media’s The Unseen, JF Houle’s Houligan, WeAreBlank’s Blank. The Movie, Good Company’s Good Company Two, Meanwhile in Canada’s Ski The North, 4FRNT Media’s Shaping Skiing, Team Thirteen’s Conquering The Useless, MSP Films’ Fade To Winter, Super Proof Inc.’s The Masquerade, and Level 1 Productions’ Small World.
Anyone who’s been to Freshtival in the past (or any freeski film festival of its kind for that matter) can guess what happened. A battalion of athletes came to town, a Calgary stampede of fans hooted and hollered at the films, and things got a little more than sideways at the afterparty (largely thanks to a beer bong that ran the length of the stairs and drew the line on hygiene). So in lieu of a day-by-day account of the happenings at at the event, here’s the Top 10 Things That Make Freshtival Great. The David Letterman rip off is fully intended…
Nuzzled comfortably in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary, Alberta is the economic beating heart of Canada. Despite the recent trying times, the towers of power of the oil and gas industry stand tall and proud here, as do the rough and tumble makeshift cowboys that call the gateway to the Prairies home. And when you combine that much disposable income with those types of people, you know you’re always in for a good time. On the International relations front, for all you Americans out there: Calgary is kind of like Denver, but way cooler.
The Globe Cinema has held Freshtival on and off for the past few years, and it’s a slick setup. With the most attractive theatre employees you’ve ever seen (there’s not a set of braces or a pizza boy mustache to be found in the building), some off-beat and classic film posters donning the walls, and alcohol available for consumption at the 18+ shows, The Globe keeps it real and then some.
Callum Pettit may be the most creative freeskier in the world when it comes to signing posters. While many opt to only lay down their best John Hancock, and others have two or three sayings they recycle as the line makes its way past them, Callum writes something different on every fan’s poster, and a lot more often that not, it’s hilarious (example - “Get fat for winter! It’s rad.”)
Prior to the madness ensuing at the Freshtival Après at the Chalet Afterparty at Ceili’s, following a tiring weekend of boozing, autograph signing, skateboarding, Mexican food, and more boozing, in an entirely expected turn of events, ‘Young’ Joe Schuster was feeling a little tuckered out. So in an effort to stick to his strict training regiment for the upcoming winter, he took a brief rest in the loo, followed by a pilgrimage to the Sandman Hotel for a planned two-hour nap, which turned into an all-night slumber after snoozing through the snooze button he set. Gotta love the Sleepy Schusters.
On the subject of athletes, credit is more than due to the likes of the aforementioned Callum and Joe, alongside Mark Abma, Mike Henitiuk, Rob Heule, Eric Hjorleifson, Nick McNutt, Chris Rubens, members of the Canadian National Slopestyle Team, and Freshtival party starter Sean Pettit for making the pilgrimage to Calgary to sign posters and rub shoulders with the fans, while helping get them fired up for winter via their stellar segments in this year’s impressive crop of films.
Freshtival is the byproduct of Fresh and its hard-working and gracious host of an owner Steve Saranchuk (which are #4 and #3 (respectively) on this list, as you’ll see below if you plan on continuing to read this). A decade and a bit ago, Saranchuk got the good times rolling with the first ever freeski film festival in the world, paving the way for the legions that have followed his lead. Over the years, the time-honoured event has showcased the best ski films ever produced, complemented by appearances from some of the biggest names in the sport. Needless to say, it’s not to be missed.
Fresh is one of Canada’s premiere freeski shops. Alongside D-Structure in Quebec, Fresh was the first retail outlet in the Great White North to focus solely on any and all things freeskiing, and its walls are brimming with history (highlighted by the first-ever pairs of Salomon Teneighty’s (the ski that started it all) and Pocket Rocket’s (the first-ever fat twin-tip), complete with signatures from The Godfather of Freeskiing, Mike Douglas). After all these years, it continues to be one of the best and coolest ski shops most have ever set foot in, and if there’s a ‘must have’ product on the freeski market, you can bet your ass that Fresh carries it.
Steve Saranchuk is the man. Period. Along with founding Fresh and Freshtival, he’s the General Manager of Armada Canada, has showed cancer who’s boss, and when it comes to taking care of the athletes, media and fans that grace his shop and attend his event, he’s due for a Worldwide Hospitality Award. Thanks for all you do for the sport Steve.
Freshtival wouldn’t be Freshtival without films, so a tip of the hat is due to the 13 movies and the hard-working crews behind them, who have once again succeeded in getting any and everyone who’s watched them primed and ready for Old Man Winter’s imminent arrival.
But most importantly, none of this would happen without the fans, and in Calgary, they’re extra special. Where as east coast ski film festivals tend to draw primarily urban and freestyle-focused skiers, and west coast versions are packed with powder hounds, Calgary is home to skiers from all walks of life. In contrast to other parts of the country (and the world), it’s not abnormal to see a bearded brute in duct-taped Arc’teryx sitting next to a long-haired tween in an Inspired tall tee in the theatre, and none of them are shy about showing their mutual appreciation, admiration and respect for everything from James Heim’s Mach 10 Alaska lines, to Cam Riley bomb dropping off a rail five stories high, and everything in between. Skiers of Calgary…Forecast salutes you, and we’re already looking forward to seeing you next year.