"I remember last year, I was pretty psyched on the double ten that I did," says Jon Olsson in Field Productions' latest release, "Side by Side," which premiered in September in Oslo, Norway. "Here we are a year later, and five out of six guys are doing double 14s. If anyone would have told me that last year, I would have said, 'You're crazy.'"
The montage of 10s, 12s and 14s on a massive kicker in Juvass, Norway, that follows Olsson's quote in the film will have you understanding quite well what the Scandinavian veteran is talking about.
Freestyle skiing is changing a mile a minute. And Filip Christensen, the Norwegian founder of Field Productions, has certainly been in the right place to document that change. With only a handful of exceptions, the bulk of today's most head-spinning tricks especially on park kickers have been invented, polished and perfected in Scandinavia. With minute after minute of mind-blowing park tricks (surrounded in large part by breathtaking fjordland scenery), Christensen's latest release makes clear the advantage to a filmmaker of living smack in the middle of such a freestyle skiing hotbed.
Even more than its terrain park action though, what stands out most about "Side By Side" is its range. For every vertigo-inducing park jump segment, the movie brings another big mountain segment of equal quality. On screen, the Field Productions crew looks well prepared on its maiden voyage to Alaska. Scandos Eirik Finseth, Asbjorn Naess and Åsmund Thorsen each pull down a line or two that would draw a hoot and a holler from more familiar, easier to pronounce names like Morrison, Pettit or Cattabriga-Alosa. Okay, scratch that "easier to pronounce" bit.Thanks to our Matchsticks, TGRs and an ever-growing number production companies, we North Americans are fully aware of the hugeness of Alaska. We're also aware of what a badass a man must be to ski there, and what an aloof tone of voice a man can take on during his quest for the biggest, most epic line ever skied. But in voiceovers from the Alaska-green Scandinavians in "Side By Side," we hear something slightly more unusual: awe and humility.
"When I got into freeskiing, it turned out pretty fast that Alaska was the ultimate place to ski," Finseth reflects in the segment. "You always want to push your own limits and ski steeper and steeper, but here is steep enough. Period."
In addition to the hugeness of Alaska, the film's big mountain offering gives viewers a taste of British Columbia, and a robust survey of the hugeness of Norway. Norway is huge? I didn't really know that either.
What I also didn't know is that urban rails could possibly still be engaging to watch. The most urban-rail heavy segment of the movie, Even Sigstad's segment is a standout. It's got big rails, it's got bomb drops, and it's got one-footers, street jumps and a bunch of other entertaining stunts in decidedly non-alpine environments. It's urban, and it's one of my favorite segments of the movie.
If you would have told me I'd be saying that before I watched "Side By Side," I would have said, "You're crazy."