New Film: 'The Fine Line'

The best avy-safety movie since “Aspen Extreme.”
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The best avy-safety movie since “Aspen Extreme.”
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This isn’t your traditional avalanche training video. Sure, The Fine Line communicates the dangers involved in backcountry skiing and stresses the importance of having the right gear—beacon, shovel, probe—and knowing how to use it. And it’s made by Rocky Mountain Sherpas, a production company out of Calgary, and the Canadian Avalanche Foundation. But the difference is that the hourlong feature uses stop-motion animation, short surf segments, and ski-porn-worthy footage, all set to an electro-pop soundtrack.

A crew of pro athletes, including Tanner Hall, Eric Hjorleifson, and Ian McIntosh, slash big-mountain lines in Alaska and British Columbia, while avalanche forecasters, ski patrollers, and guides talk about snowpack and wind-loading. Point-of-view footage of a snowmobiler tumbling in a massive slide shows the real-time risk involved in big-mountain sports. The filmmakers plan to incorporate the movie into high school curricula in Canada and the U.S. and work alongside outdoor-education classes with the hope of reaching younger audiences. Producer Malcolm Sangster says, “We’re trying to show that even pro skiers take it easy and pay attention to safety.”

- SKIING MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2009