Aspen pro skier Colter Hinchliffe on his journey to TGR’s ‘Winterland’
IF YOU GO …
What: Teton Gravity Research’s ‘Winterland’
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Friday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $15/adults; $7/age 16 and under
Tickets: Wheeler box office; aspenshowtix.com
IF YOU WATCH …
Colter Hinchliffe’s other fall 2019 release with Teton Gravity Research is “Rise of Red,” following a month-long climbing and skiing road trip in a Ford Ranger with Tim Durtschi. It’s streaming for free online at tetongravity.com
Teton Gravity Research’s latest cinematic stokefest is a good-time throwback of a ski movie, showcasing some of the sport’s best as they rip through a historically stormy and powdery winter. Roaring Fork Valley native and longtime TGR skier Colter Hinchliff is among them in “Winterland.”
He and the Jackson Hole-based TGR are bringing “Winterland” to the Wheeler Opera House on Friday night.
The light-hearted tone is a change of pace from the more plotted, artier trend of recent years in ski flicks that have frustrated some core fans looking for the simpler joys of stoke and shred.
“It’s a classic ski film,” Hinchliffe, 33, said recently from the road during the TGR premiere tour. “There’s less story than the last few (TGR) films. There’s just action with music, which is refreshing.”
Interspersed with sparse and poetic voiceovers, the globe-trotting film’s centerpiece is Jackson’s powder-choked winter of 2018-19, bringing TGR’s hometown skiers the most snowfall since the mid-1990s and the deepest February in its recorded history. As the narrator puts it, skiers were “surfing storms that never seem to break.” During that stretch of winter, Hinchliffe and the TGR crew hit Jackson and the surrounding backcountry.
Hinchliffe gets a heroic solo segment, filmed over two weeks in Jackson Hole and set to NOFX’s “Freedom Like Shopping Cart.” The music choice pleased Hinchliffe: “It’s got this great old-school ski movie punk rock vibe.”
His solo segment includes some of the movie’s standout moments. He nails an impossible-looking straight-line run down a craggy backcountry line, throws a 360 over a tree and a 720 off a cliff. One dreamy overhead shot follows him through a pillow factory of fluffy snow-topped boulders.
“Winterland” — also featuring TGR stars Nick McNutt, Todd Ligare, Elyse Saugstad and pre-teen phenom Kai Jones — showcases skiers (and some snowboarders, including Jeremy Jones) to British Columbia, Alaska, Austria (where Sam Smoothy endures a terrifying crash) and to Norway, where there’s an Oslo street session.
Along with his short solo segment, Hinchliffe is featured in shots interspersed in the movie intro and he’s in the widely circulated online trailer. He also gets screentime in a funny interlude introducing his friend, frequent adventure partner and fellow TGR athlete Tim Durtschi, waiting around for his ditzy buddy at the base on a powder day. (When Durtschi finally shows up he asks, “What are you waiting for?” and announces he’s lost his GoPro.)
TGR also sent Hinchliffe, Durtschi and a camera crew on the road for an epic May offseason road trip, traversing desert and snow and mud adventures around Moab, Jackson and Southern California. The result is the short film “Rise of Red,” released online this fall.
“I think it resonates with people because it’s more of a lifestyle piece,” Hinchliffe said. “People are connecting to the camping and the adventure of it.”
Hinchliffe has been a constant presence in TGR movies since the 2012 release “The Dream Factory.” He got his foot in the door during a trip to Alaska, where he managed to talk his way into their shoot.
“I did everything I could to get in a helicopter with TGR,” he recalled. “I did and the rest is history.”
This fall premiere season has had Hinchliffe bouncing around the U.S. and Europe for screenings of both “Winterland” and his new Volkl movie “121.”
While he’s in the Jackson-centric TGR film family, Hinchliffe has remained a local boy in Aspen, a familiar presence on the hill with his ski gang, the Flying Monkeys, and an annual on-screen star of the goofy local ski film presentations at the NEPSA Video Awards.
His plans for travel and filming for this winter are still in flux, which is the norm.
“I don’t have anything planned until two weeks before it happens,” he said with a laugh. “There’s always rumors flying around about what we might do, but until the snow starts flying it’s hard to lock anything down.”
He’ll likely head to Jackson and Canada with his snowmobile by mid-winter and do a heli-skiing trip in Alaska in the spring. His early season, as always, will be at home here in Aspen.
“Aspen is still going to be my home base,” he said. “I love skiing off the gondola in early season, getting strong, skiing with my friends. I love getting stoked at home, being there for the holidays and then taking it to bigger mountains with more snow in mid-January.”
Where he will be living in the valley, however, is an open question. Hinchliffe is among the locals displaced by the redevelopment of the East End apartment complex and ski bum haven known as “Park and Park.”
“They kicked us all out in May, so that they could tear down the building,” he said. “The building is still standing there and I’m still basically homeless.”
Since he and other residents’ leases were terminated, he’s been camping in the Lincoln Creek area between his globe-trotting travels (which this summer included a commercial fishing stint in Alaska). He’s still on the hunt for a place to lay his head when he’s home this winter.
“I’m floating around, but Aspen will forever be my home,” he said.
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