Sweetgrass's Valhalla: A Place to Call Home

Written by Anna Husted on at

Perhaps it is bizarre to even review ski movies. Rarely are viewers seeking out ski movie reviews to make sure the film will have enough big mountain, enough street segments, or enough hits by People Under the Stairs. None of that matters ... until now.

With the onset of millennial movie-making comes this need to search for a greater significance in this post-9/11, post-Columbine world the Millennials grew up in. As Powder Magazine's John Stifter puts it: Can a ski movie format answer the search for meaning...the search for childlike harmony in this modern, ever-connected world we live in? Can Valhalla director Nick Waggoner make a ski movie with a drama screenplay format? In this case, that's not really for me to decide. I found Waggoner's Valhalla a refreshing, albeit explorative, take on the ski movie. With skinny, unshaven hippies at its narrative core and skiing, riding and discovering nature at its heart, Valhalla was entertaining and fun. This is not the average ski movie, but it provided covetous lines slowed down to a speed of pure emotion.

The mountains have beckoned us all over the years for various reasons and in various directions. Valhalla explores one of those reasons and a few of those directions by showing a narrative of a man who may tap into the occasional "experimental" realm of self-exploration, but above all he taps into skiing, snow and nature to find that deeper meaning in life.
I'm not going to lie and say this ski film is for everyone. If I were to see one ski film this year it might not even be this one, but Valhalla is beautiful in its experimental journey toward finding something unknown amongst the known. I ski dozens of days a year, but do I take away something new each day? Perhaps I should.

My takeaway from Valhalla: I may know how to ski, but do I really know myself when I am skiing? And is it possible to ever really know the mountain, especially Lone Mountain and her brethren Andesite, Flat Iron and Spirit, even though I call it my home?


The place I call home.

Countdown to Ski Season: 20 Days (in Photos)

Written by Anna Husted on at

"Winter is Coming" is the slogan of HBO's Game of Thrones. It is the motto of one of the families on the show (and in the novels) and is the name of the first episode of the first season. Game of Thrones uses the slogan not just because the season of winter overwhelms characters and plot, but also because it is a metaphor for the coming evil and darkness upon the land. How they couldn't be more wrong. Here are a few photo glimpses into the brightness and joy of winter at Big Sky Resort:

Lone Peak

LP Long Shot

snowmaking close up

LP Snowmaking


Happy Halloween!

Written by Anna Husted on at

Here lies my top ski-related costumes to tickle the trick-or-treater's fancy:

1) The Holy Ski Fool: This is a take on The Holy Fool, a character who possesses wisdom through simple-mindedness. A take on the gaper, The Holy Ski Fool may look less than stellar, but will progress the spirit of the sport far beyond my measly understanding of it. Due to the nature of the wisdom of this character, the costume is completely up to the fool.

2) Saucer Boy: In light of McConkey hitting theaters this month, dust off that round sled and honor the spirit of Shane McConkey the best way one can: through Saucer Boy.

Saucer Boy
Saucer Boy in all his glory.

3) Dumb and Dumber, I mean, Harry and Lloyd: Although I don't condone trips to Aspen over Big Sky, I do love Harry and Lloyd's ski attire; always classic, never classy.

dumb and dumber
Harry and Lloyd looking sharp. Although Harry's ski suit is nice as well. 

4) 80s Skier: Think Hot Tub Time Machine, but remember how we did it before that movie was even written? Bust out those leg warmers (I never put them away), scrunchie, fanny pack, and grab a hot pink headband, this look will kill.

The 80s want their poles back.

5) Glen Plake: This one may actually end up being more suitable for the ladies out there. Beware, getting the gel into and out of long hair may be more trouble than it's worth. On the other hand, going as Glen Plake makes one unmistakable.

Glen Plake
Glen Plake is the man (but we ladies can still go as Plake). 

2013 Ski Movie Preview

Written by Anna Husted on at

As a new batch of ski and snowboard movies make their way across the country here's a glimpse of what's new, what's bound to be entertaining, and what to check out in the coming months even if they don't come to a tour stop nearby:

Into the Mind

1) Into the Mind by Sherpas Cinema. This little-film-company-that-could releases its third feature film this fall, Into the Mind. Winning Powder Magazine's 2012 movie of the year with All.I.Can, Sherpas is one to watch for years to come. Bringing fresh stories, fresh lines, and beautiful cinematography, Into the Mind will blow yours away. Following an unnamed skier as he pursues the toughest terrain and as the viewer tackles the terrain of his psyche. Going into the mind of a skier isn't easy, but Into the Mind takes us there for better or worse.


2) McConkey by RedBull Media House and Matchstick Productions. If you're not a crier, you'll probably still cry. This movie left me in tears after seeing it at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. McConkeymovie.com calls it a "heartfelt examination of the legacy one athlete left to the progression of his sports." Although I agree with that tagline, it is so much more than that. Growing up watching Shane McConkey shred and just "ski down there and jump off of something" made this movie so much more personal than just an athlete leaving something behind. He has made us laugh, laugh harder, and now cry. Don't miss this one.

Valhalla Walhalla
Valhalla as the film portrays and a drawing of the mythological Valhalla.

3) Valhalla by Sweetgrass Productions. Valhalla hails from Norse mythology. It is the majestic hall in Asgard ruled by Odin, the Allfather of the gods, synonymous with war, battle, victory, and death. He is the father of Thor. The movie's title derives from Norse mythology and the movie itself might make one think it's as bizarre as this mythological place, Valhalla. Following a man searching for his own Valhalla, the film promises to be vivid.

Way of Life

4) Way of Life by Teton Gravity Research. Skiing and snowboarding is more than a hobby, it's a way of life. Although this is the basic idea behind TGR's latest stoke flick, it's due to be much more than basic. Capturing a lifestyle of a culture by searching for how snow shapes a mountain and a person makes for a fascinating ski film subject. Plus, TGR just never disappoints.

Ticket to Ride

5) Ticket to Ride by Warren Miller. Perhaps Miller unintentionally made shout outs to The Beatles (his 64th film, "Ticket to Ride" and legendary lines much like the mop tops themselves), but this Miller machine takes us to so many new places visually like The Beatles did aurally. See Kazakhstan, Iceland, and more exotic ski locations through that epic Warren Miller lens, including one of his, and my, favorite places: Montana.

Countdown to Ski Season: 56 Days

Written by Anna Husted on at

If your legs, heart, lungs, and core aren't ready for the 30+ days you're going to spend racing from Lone Peak all the way to the base area, it's not too late to start. Here are some tips I always like to follow for getting into ski shape, especially because you can do them at home.

1) Wall sits, wall sits, wall sits
With or without weights on my legs, wall sits get me ready for the ski season. I (attempt) 3 sets at 60 seconds each at first and work my way up from there. I bet by ski season I'll be doing 3 sets of 10 minutes (wishful thinking).

2) Medicine Ball Throws
I use whatever weight medicine ball I feel comfortable with for that day and start with a squat and then extend my legs up tossing the medicine ball above my head. At home modification: jumping squats, fully extending my legs after each squat and jumping while reaching up toward the ceiling.

3) Medicine Ball Abs
P90X friend, Tony Horton calls these Russian Twists. I use a hand weight or a medicine ball and do 3 sets of 30 Russian Twists. Or without a medicine ball: 3 sets of 50.

4) Lunges: Side and Regular
3 sets of 10 regular lunges and 3 sets of 10 side lunges. If I'm at the gym or have weights at home, I put weights in both hands to get that extra boost.

5) Football Fast Feet
I run in place on the balls of my feet as fast as I can for 15 seconds, repeating for 3 sets with 30 second breaks between each set.

6) Two-leg Hops
I use a foursquare pattern with tape or my imagination for this one. Hopping with both legs, I use one square as home base, always hopping back to that one. I hop forward then back to home base, then sideways and back to home base, then diagonally and back to home base, doing this for 25 seconds. I usually repeat for 3 sets taking 30 second breaks between each set.

I recommend this workout every other day, with an emphasis on cardio on the off days. Or I'll mix it into a cardio workout and split it into 2 groups of 3. There's a plethora of ski workouts to get into, but only one Big Sky Resort to test out that ski-shape. And there's no time like today to start planning that winter trip out here. What is all this working out for if not to cash it in on the mountain?

ski shape

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