At X Games Tignes, a new film-only contest will be debuting, called Real Ski Backcountry. Eight skiers, eight video parts, all shot in the backcountry. Voting opens on March 5, and a fan favorite and judges' favorite will be awarded on March 22, during X Games Tignes. We caught up with X Games Real Ski Backcountry contestant Chris Benchetler recently in Pemberton, BC. He was planning to leave his truck in Pemberton, fly home to Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and come back to BC in March to film with Atomic and Nimbus Independent, the collaboration he founded with Eric Pollard, Pep Fujas and Andy Mahre in 2008. For his Real Ski part, Benchetler is working with Justin Wiegand, a filmier, photographer and co-director for Nimbus. He's had a lot thrown at him this season, but Benchetler is rolling with the punches and putting things into perspective.
How's the process been?
I'm struggling to finish the edit. My wife [professional snowboarder Kimmy Fasani] got hurt in December. She was completely bed ridden for a solid month. I wanted to stay home to take care of her. That canceled some early season trips in January. Then I ran into visa trouble. I had a trip planned to Russia at the end of January. My passport was at the Russian embassy for longer than expected, so I couldn't get up to BC where it was good. Then I went to Russia and Pollard got hurt right away. I stayed in the hospital until he was sent to Germany.
Sounds like some tough times.
Mentally, it was super exhausting and hard to focus on my skiing. I was putting my energy into other people. It was a challenge for sure.
How many days have you spent filming the segment?
I had a week and a half at home in early January for 10 days. I flamed with Justin in between taking care of Kimmy. That's more or less my segment.
Sledding or touring?
Little touring, but most of my shots were from sledding. January was pretty dry in Mammoth -- we were just hunting for good aspects.
Do you feel confident about your segment?
I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish with what I was dealt with. It wasn't ideal. I wanted to focus all my time and energy on the edit and really chase storms and focus on getting the best footage I could, but the people in my life are a thousand times more important.
What did you think when you heard about the contest?
I'm beyond thrilled and super honored to say the least. There are so many good backcountry athletes out there. I couldn't believe I was chosen. I look up to all of them a lot -- all the competitors are all so incredibly talented. I can't wait to see the edits. It's an awesome format.
Any highlights during the process?
Overall, every day you're out there and you land a trick. That's why I love my job so much. There are so many rewards versus risk. That's why we all deal with injuries and continue skiing. When you do land the trick or the line links together ... it's worth it. Every shot was rewarding because it all has a story behind it. I'm happy I'm still walking and have my health.