Set to Black Sabbath’s timeless rock song “Paranoid,” the teaser for the new ski movie “Swift. Silent. Deep.” promises a film that’s equal parts rock-and-roll, hucking and a unique style of hardcore ski-bumming in Jackson, Wyo., that permanently changed the face of skiing. Watch the trailer and it’s easy to believe that it just may deliver on the promise that a few have made of the film — that it’s a “Dogtown and Z-Boys”-type film for the ski world.
The film tells the tale of good guy outlaws (the skiers) who just want to duck the ropes into the backcounty without being oppressed by the powers that be (the ski patrol). Set in Jackson Hole, the story begins in the 80s, when a JH native starts going out of bounds with a small crew he dubs the “Jackson Hole Air Force.” The ski patrol has mixed feelings. They’d like to join these accomplished skiers who “tattoo” steep lines, but the non-avalanche-controlled backcountry is dangerous.
Sure, the “Air Force” can handle themselves. But some folks who follow their tracks can’t. And when two talented ski patrollers die in avalanches one winter tensions run high. A battle ensues, and one of the biggest names in skiing gets his pass yanked.
This duct-tape and GORE-TEX David versus resort-owner Goliath story also has a hard partying element. The creator of the Air Force described his cohorts as “hard charging, hard drinking, hard drugging skiers.” And here’s his description of their heyday: “If you can remember the 80s, you probably weren’t skiing them.”
Eventually, largely due to the group, Jackson created an open backcountry policy, which has been picked up by many other resorts.
The movie? “Swift. Silent. Deep.” is the best ski documentary I’ve ever seen. But it’s no “Dogtown.” Although it features a coming-of-age story of a sport, it’s missing what makes Dogtown a universal story: the coming of age story of the players.
So if you ski, you should absolutely pick up a copy of “Swift. Silent. Deep.” And if you don’t ski, place your expectations incredibly high — you’ll love it. www.swiftsilentdeep.com
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.