The dangers of steep skiing tore two friends apart. But conditions, timing, and a touch of destiny bring them back together in Nikolai Schirmer’s new film, ‘Eulogy of a Steep Skier.’
Nikolai Schirmer’s professional ski buddies had all left him for steep skiing. Almost all of his buddies, at least. He and professional snowboarder Krister Kopala continued shredding together on freeride lines; on much gentler, less intense, and lower-consequence slopes. Because it’s far safer.
And, Schirmer argues, it’s also just better skiing. You don’t have to sacrifice speed and technicality to accommodate treacherously dangerous slopes.
But even Kopala couldn’t resist the call of the steeps. He started experimenting more and more with big mountains and sheer runs. And he and Schirmer’s professional careers started diverging as a result. Eventually, they found themselves skiing with new ski partners altogether.
Eulogy of a Steep Skier: Caution and Camaraderie in the Alps
“Eulogy of a Steep Skier” follows these athletes, as their different goals pull them in different directions. Kopala aims to ski Jiehkkevárri, the biggest peak in the Lyngen Alps of Norway. It’s a mountain that’s more cliff than slope, and one that’s claimed many lives.
Schirmer, on the other hand, wants to ski Sydbreen Glacier. Which, coincidentally, is at the base of Jiehkkevárri.
The two pro skiers converge on the same location. Both bring their new ski partners, separate goals, and their own film crews. But problems quickly become apparent.
Schirmer’s new freeride partner Eirik Verlo hasn’t been training and isn’t too eager to push it on Sydbreen. And Kopala’s new steep skiing partner Eivind Aanensen is still rattled from a close encounter with an avalanche just a week prior.
So when weather rolls in, snuffing out Kopala’s dreams of conquering Jiehkkevárri, everything changes. The two old friends are left with just one logical choice. They join forces once again and ride off into the Norwegian sunset together.
“Eulogy of a Steep Skier,” directed by Schirmer, releases online on Oct. 24.
Runtime (trailer): 1 minute