Sweetgrass - "Signatures"

The latest press release that I have received from the boys of Sweetgrass.  It appears to be another busy tour season for the crew.  I am excited to see the final release.  The buzz around these guys is absolutely electric and I am personally fired up.  The Sweetgrass vibes are the most organic thing in snow films today.  They bring the art of the film/riding/natural worlds into rythym in a way that to see it is more an inside experience then just a movie from the Red Box.

For Immediate Release


Every Turn Has it's Own Personality

Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan – June 11th, 2009

After an entire winter of filming deep in the hardwoods of Hokkaido, Japan, the Sweetgrass family brings you Signatures, a story of expression, and the art of riding on snow. Every turn has a personality, and every personality 

has it's own unique style: the air, the turn, the spin, the grab, the laid-out cutback carve. 

At the heart of this lovely tale of deep powder mystery: the seasons. In Japan there is a cultural connection to the different Signatures of our terrestrial home- a sense that the rhythm of fall, winter, spring, summer, influences the rhythm of the person, their energy, their style, and the lines they choose. Niseko local photographer Yoichi Watanabe explains, “As a photographer, the change in season brings a change of subject. I have to be ahead of this change in nature, like I have to be thinking about flowers before they actually bloom in order to capture what really goes on. I can say the same about the snow as well.” 

Powder riding is only part of it. In spring we fire up the barbeque and laugh about the deliciously deep turns in January, about Matt Philippi spinning into the setting Japanese sun. We talk about Nick Devore and Will Cardamone

cowboying 50 degree spines that only the local locals know about, about the the slough, the sounds, the snow, the tomahawk. We hike up in our t-shirts and breath deep, riding corn snow down to the waves of the Japan Sea. The trees bloom, and our bodies sink deep into lawn chairs under the heat of the spring sun. Between slurps of cheap beer, we mutter about the fly rod, about the 29er, about rivers, the cold water. We look up at lines that used to be buried under 20 feet of snow, now covered in bamboo and lush green. Every season has it's Signature, it's emotion, it's rhythm, and it's influence on the skiers, the riders, the surfers, the bikers, the boaters, and the fat tire crowd that call the mountain and sea home. 

Signatures premiering Sept. 18th, 2009 in Montreal at IF3 Festival, on tour in the US, Canada, and Japan, and available on DVD this fall. www.sweetgrassproductions.wordpress.com and www.Sweetgrass-Productions.com for updates and the latest beat from the Sweetgrass family. 


This here is a little flashback to the January teaser they made of the time that I was in Hokkaido last winter.  When was the last time you saw a ski movie teaser quite like this, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  


It's the turn... maybe you can't understand.

Recently, I have been reading some different writings about telemark skiing that delve deep into what is to become, and what will happen, and what about this, and that, and a whole bunch of bullshit that is all about the demise of telemark and what to do and on and on.  I want to take my chance to weigh in and say that the answer is, and has been, right here all along.  It is the turn.  That is it.  That is all there ever has been, and that is all there ever will be, and that is all there ever should be.  I recently read an article on Telemarktips.com in which Mitch Weber the editor of the site goes on a rant about the gear and how we have been about gear and all that and the dynamics of Josh Murphy and movement to make it less about gear and all kinds of other mumbo jumbo that makes little sense to me. 


Mitch makes a lot of good points that I agree with, like when he talks about being apart of a revolution and making the breakthroughs as we go.  The gear was and still is a huge factor in what is happening in telemark and I myself would not switch until the boots went plastic and the bindings got burlier because it was then that I was able to make the turn the way I wanted.  Not because the gear was really slick, but because of the turning styles that I could get into.   I watched the park movement of the past try to bring telemark to the youth and all of those things he wrote about.  But,  the truth and future to me lies in the turn.  Mitch goes on and on about gear because that is the niche of this niche industry in which he fits.  His site is almost all gear, and gear talk.  He criticizes Josh Madsen for trying to make a celebrity class and so on, but the truth is we all must realize that it is not just the gear, or just the celebrities, but the turn.  The turn is the celebrity, it is the coolest kid in town.  People have told me that they want to try it because I make it look fun.  The keyword being, "it", the turn, the reason.  It is what brought me to telemark.  It is what brought everyone I know to telemark.  All the people I know who love telemark do it not for the celebrity status or the intricacies of the engineering of the latest binding idea, but the turn.  IT IS THE TURN.  THE TURN. THE TURN. THE TURN.  We are not in competition with AT, we are not in competition with Alpine or snowboarding for that matter because they don't have this turn, we focus on the turn and they can't argue with that.

First of all,  the stigma that divides telemark from alpine and snowboarding is gone.  DEAL WITH THAT.  These days the kids are all riding together on all kinds of boards.  Some are boarders, skiers, and telers.  The reality is that there is little distinction as to how you choose to ride because now we are all riding the same terrain, snowboarders have split their boards, alpiners have released their heels to ascend, and tele skiers are trying to have releaseable and step in bindings.  It appears to me that all the disciplines are combining with the exception of how one chooses to turn.  If there could be a better example it would be the boys of Sweetgrass who are realizing that all of the disciplines are connected by something bigger and that is the mountains that we all answer too.  How you choose to ride is up to you, we all can get caught in avalanches.  A very good friend of mine once said to me that, "it is all about turnism... everything."  He was not only talking about how we ride down the mountain, but how the world works and everything we know to be true revolves around a cyclical type of schedule.  Everything turns.  Everything.  Not just snowboards and skis.  So the new K2 line of skis that draws no distinction between telemark and AT is not something I view as alarming or a sign of the death of telemark.  It is actually a sign of the reality that I have known along with the rest of the new generation of telemark skiers that Mitch Weber seems to forget about.  There are no distinctions, just riders.  Todays crew of youngsters are a very diverse group that includes alpiners, snowboarders, and teleskiers all riding together.  Imagine that.  

I love the telemark turn,  and I have experienced the transcendent powers that it holds, much like my friends who have chosen the transcendent powers of snowboarding or alpine skiing.  I can try to explain the telemark turn to them, but they just know that it must be something similar to the way they feel when they make their turns.  It may or may not be the same feeling, but it is the turnism that rings most true to me and they have a deep respect for that.  Because it is not about how you choose to turn, but that you turn.  So when I look to the kids, I am seeing crews that rip and makes no distinction between whether that one magic turn was a laid back hand down tele turn or a back foot pressed down cutback turn, but that the turn was magic none-the-less.  And that crew of kids have snowboards, alpine skis, and telemark bindings all turning together.  Just like me, and my friends.

ONE LOVE.     

Feasting on pow in Niseko, Japan with my Sweetgrass friends who ride all kinds of different boards connected to their feet in many ways.  Photo: Mike Brown (Alpine skier)