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Steep: The World of Big Mountain Skiing

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20th Sep 2008

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Extreeeeme skiing footage from the film Steep
Every so often a movie comes along that makes you gasp "wow" in spite of yourself, sending blood to your head and curtains of shivers down your spine. Usually that would describe a horror movie, but in the case of the new documentary Steep, (which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival), its a mix of adrenaline and awe. Hub Culture sat down with director Mark Obenhaus at the Tribeca Film Festival for a bit of insight on the making of the film and what's next in the sport overall. For all of you heli-skiers that like to brag about Niseko and Nepal, listen up!

Mark and his crew spent two seasons to get footage of today's best extreme skiers and backed it with interviews from those who founded the sport in the 1980s and early 1990s. Steep opens with historical accounts of the first descent of Grand Teton in Wyoming and the first extreme skiers in Chamonix then moves around the world to Valdez, Alaska, current home of some incredible ski opportunities. Along the way, your view of challenging skiing will change for good.

Steep does for adventure "big mountain" skiing what Point Break and the Blue Crush did for surfing - to objectify, entrance, and visualize a little known sport so much it makes you want to book the next flight to rural Alaska. We're not going to spoil the docu by telling what happens, but let's just say the visuals will keep you entertained, even if you are mentally rewinding through the occasional tedious bits.

That said, it doesn't take long to spot the stars that will come out of this film, especially after you see Shane McConkey barreling down a mountain, base jumping off a cliff and floating off down the mountain or Ingrid Backstrom flying at 50 miles an hour straight down a face in about 4 seconds.

So where is the ultimate new extreme ski destination? "Greenland is the new mythical place," says Mark, after clarifying that there is still much of Alaska that has yet to be skied. In terms of the next frontiers for the sport itself, which go beyond base jumping, cliff jumping and general mayhem, Mark says, "I guess the new frontier is to ski down the face of a cliff, off cliff, drop your skis, spread your arms and legs to reaveal a flight suit, fly awhile, then pop your chute..."

Sure Mark... you go first.