Santa Monica, California is not exactly a hotbed for ski industry events, but you wouldn’t have known it while attending the latest installment of the X-Dance Hollywood Screening Series, which also served as the world premiere of Grete Eliassen’s “Say My Name.”
The event, held at the infamous Red Bull USA headquarters, went off in flawless fashion last night as everyone from professional athletes to industry insiders mingled and sipped on Red Bull-infused cocktails before the real festivities kicked off.
When the screening room doors opened, guests hurried inside to grab a seat to ensure a great view for this groundbreaking film. For those who are unaware, “Say My Name” is basically your token ski movie filled with exotic locations, jaw-dropping ski porn, and excellent tunes. However, what makes it noticeably different is the cast of skiers – they’re all girls.
Eliassen set out on the ambitious two year project that spanned from Fall 2008 until Spring 2010. Along the same vein of past signature Red Bull films, Eliassen also recruited some of her friends to help along the way.
The film opens up with a banger montage of big-mountain skiing that mostly showcases the rapid progression Eliassen has undergone for the project, particularly in the backcountry. A fact that many – including myself – may find surprising is that Eliassen only recently learned the necessary backcountry skills for a project like “Say My Name.” Co-creator Stan Evans informed the crowd that Eliassen really took it upon herself to prepare for the project with avalanche training, snowmobile instruction, and overall mountain safety. From the looks of it, it’s hard to tell; she blends in like a veteran out there, cruising the steeps and dropping double stagers all day.
After the opening sequence, Eliassen introduces the first crew of fellow all-star chicas to join her in the film, including Elyse Saugstad, Suz Graham, and “The Story” athlete Lynsey Dyer. I don’t want to spoil any specific shots, but it’s clear the girls are seriously stepping their game up.
Besides charging gnarly lines, viewers are also treated to a number of urban shots that could have easily given the boys a run for their money not too long ago. Highlights include some amazing clips from Canadian phenom Kaya Turski as she effortlessly slays various urban features and drops. Eliassen shows she is no slouch here either – landing some impressive disasters at a Utah rail garden.
Obviously Eliassen’s much talked about world record hip jump had to earn some quality screen time, and the segment did not disappoint. Perhaps the most impressive part of this feat was not only the actual height Eliassen achieved (31 feet), but the level of control she displayed during the session. Sending an in-run at 60 MPH is no small task, a fact later confirmed first-hand by at least one audience member, who opted not to hit The Canyons-built feature when given the chance.
Finally, a Park City kicker session put the icing on the cake for the film with what has to be considered one of the best female park sessions ever held. Flawless spins, smooth style, and tweaked grabs are standard here as the girls show how far women’s park skiing has come while sending the enormous gap.
Following the credits, Eliassen took the stage to a rousing ovation, and also introduced her team for the project, which included Stan Evans and Jeremy Miller.
After viewing the film it’s obvious that Eliassen has once again proven herself to be one of the most well-rounded females in the game today. From tricking the pipe to hucking cliffs, Eliassen’s stranglehold over all aspects of skiing isn’t going anywhere.
When I asked her if she would consider making a 2014 Olympic push – provided the IOC approves halfpipe for Sochi – she said that her mood dictates what she wants to work on with her skiing on a given day, not a training schedule. However, she didn’t rule the idea out completely.
Judging from the film, it’s hard to argue with Eliassen’s approach to her skiing; she killed it for not only her sponsors and fellow skiers, but also for a new generation of girls looking to push skiing to the forefront in the coming years.