For a small ski company, Level 1 Productions sure has been in the news a fair amount recently. Their 2009 film, "Refresh," is what kicked off the Warren Miller Entertainment versus Warren Miller arbitration, which came to a close last week. And their 2010 film, "Eye Trip," won best jib flick and best cinematography at September's International Freeski Film Festival.
Last winter, I took two trips with the Level crew: One in mid-February to Champery, Switzerland, and one in April to Valdez, Alaska. The footage they collected appears in "Eye Trip," which is touring theaters now.
The Champery trip was a last-minute plan -- after canceling a trip to the Russian resort town of Sochi because of lack of snow, we planned our trip to Champery on a Friday and left on Saturday. The crew was Level 1's Josh Berman and skiers Tanner Rainville, Wiley Miller and Josh Bibby. We skied the massive Portes du Soliel region, which has 12 major resorts and 194 lifts spread over 400 square miles in the Chablais Alps on the Swiss-French border. During our 15 days there, we caught some of the best filming weather possible: snow then sun, snow then sun. After filleting big lines, pillows, jumps and enough smoked meats to fill up a Porta-Potty, we headed home.
On April 1, we left for Valdez, the same place Level 1 did their first AK trip three years ago for the film, "Turbo." We spent three weeks in Valdez (staying at the Valdez Harbor Inn) and three days at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. The weather was not as ideal as Champery: Rain then snow, snow then rain. But on the last two days of the trip, miraculously, the weather cleared. We spun blades with Valdez Heli Camps, gained some elevation into the Chugach, flew to the west end of the Prince William Sound, near the Shoup Glacier, and killed it.
Check out these photos from both of those trips. Launch Gallery »