[Voting is now open for X Games Real Ski Backcountry. Watch all eight athletes' entries and place your vote here.]
X Games Real Ski Backcountry contestant Wiley Miller and videographer and editor Darren Rayner (one of Voleurz's three founding members) were wrapping up their time in Whistler when we caught up with them over Skype. They've been in the area since November. Miller, a Billings, Mont., native and current Utah resident has come a long way since his first film appearance in Teton Gravity Research's 2008 film, "Under the Influence." He's filmed with Level 1 for the p`ast six years and he will make his first X Games appearance when Real Ski Backcountry debuts at X Games Tignes this month.
Have you done anything like this before?
Darren: I've shot for four contests: Jon Olsson Super Sessions twice and Intersection twice. They were 14 days and seven days. This one feels like you have so much time. Putting it into only 90 seconds was challenging. We had to be picky to hammer the edit home.
Wiley: Working under pressure takes a bit of time to figure out. I didn't feel the pressure at the start because we were ticking things off early. But I felt it in the final stretch.
What have you learned through the editing process?
Wiley: A lot of what I do is a work in progress. I would like to improve or tweak tricks or make them better. You don't get enough time to focus on style unless it's in park. It's an ongoing process for me. This contest really did push my creative perspective. We wanted to think outside the box and wanted to be as creative as possible. Even down to the editing. We had a cool concept for the beginning of the edit. We've been shooting for it randomly throughout the months.
Were you excited about this opportunity?
Wiley: I think it's great. I'd like to see more contests like this. Hopefully this remains the primary one. It's nice to be part of the X Games and have this contest set the bar for film segments. It's hard to put together a segment in two months. This year the snowboarders have all winter. Maybe we will get that opportunity some time.
Darren, what are you filming with?
Darren: SLRs. I'm operating two cameras for most of the features.
Wiley: Level 1 stepped in and produced the project. Level 1 will own the footage. Any really nice shots will be put into their movie. From an athlete's perspective, it's nice to be working two projects at once.
Why did you choose to you spend so much time in BC?
Wiley: We have a pretty good grasp on the area around Whistler. There's so much up there. We could spend years up here and still be exploring new stuff. We've been finding some cool features. It's just been around Pemberton and Hurley. There are cool areas to shoot in north of Pemberton. We've hardly traveled at all. There's so much here, it's crazy. It trumps anything we could have available in Utah or Montana from what I've seen. I also had Utah and Cooke City, Mont., on the radar. When I found out I'd be working with Darren, BC became our No. 1 priority.
How have you been accessing your zones?
Wiley: Everything's been by snowmobile. I love snowmobiling -- even better than the heli. You know what the snow is like, and you get more of a feel for what you're dealing with. In the heli, you go from in the valley to being on top of a peak. It's hard to feel that connection. We also took some laps on the mountain and shot some fun stuff up there.
Are you happy with how your segment turned out?
Wiley: I feel really good about it. We sat down in December and put down a shot list. We laid out 20-something things we wanted to do. Obviously there were some tricks that were dependent on snow conditions. We ticked off 80 percent of our tricks.
What were some highlights?
Darren: The first day we went out, which was Dec. 12, and it was our best snow day. We hammered. We got three or four shots in one day.
Wiley: I've had to deal with a few little tweaks. Midway through January, I took three days off due to a sore leg. I landed on the backside of a pillow. I had a bad fall the other day. The snow wasn't great, and when I crashed I started to tumble and tomahawk. We called it quits on that feature.
Did you find the two-man team a pretty productive one?
Wiley: It's worked out well. It's been just us for a month and a half. We linked up with Adam Delorme and Josh Bibby and it was great having their ideas and their support. Mentally, it's more comforting being out there with people -- it's sometimes easier to feel comfortable hitting a feature. It's also a little more entertaining.