Summit local John Spriggs, pro freeskier Taylor Seaton film latest ski flick
The local High Country crew that captured deep powder backcountry skiing in Colorado two years ago is now filming a follow-up.
After the 16-minute “The Book of Pow” showcased the variety of local terrain, Summit County local John Spriggs and U.S. Pro Halfpipe Team freeskier Taylor Seaton have reunited with filmmaker Edward Clem for a project not limited to the Colorado backcountry.
Without Seaton in tow, Spriggs and Clem joined a group of skiers and filmers two weeks ago in Cooke City, Montana, near Yellowstone National Park. Spriggs described Cooke City “as if Silverton dead-ended into a snowmobile zone.” The former Bozeman resident was able to hit his old stomping grounds skiing pillow lines in the Beartooth Mountains. The crew is headed back for Cooke City on Sunday, Jan. 10, this time with Seaton joining them.
“We got some sick shots,” Spriggs said about skiing near Cooke City. “We’re going to make a one-minute, behind-the-scenes video from each trip, as well. We are just trying to find snow.”
Spriggs said the film may become a two-year effort and will range from pillow lines to deep powder shots to more backcountry jumps. Seaton made his foray into filming with “Book of Pow” and said he is eager to include more jumps in the second movie.
“I’ve got a few goals of landing a couple of new tricks off jumps in the backcountry,” Seaton said. “I thought that in the ’Book of Pow,’ we didn’t get out and build a lot of jumps. Or before we hit the jumps, the snow turned to crap. I think this year, not having it completely based in Colorado, will give us a lot more opportunity to film some of those goals.”
Spriggs said the crew will ski some other low-key spots in addition to Cooke City. In between those spots, Spriggs said he hopes the film will tell more of a behind-the-scenes story of the personality and lifestyle of skiers like himself and Seaton.
“’Book of Pow’ was more segmented into styles of skiing,” Spriggs said. “This year, I want to portray more of a story.”
It’s that story, Spriggs said, that has influenced the early, tentative working title for the film: “It Must Be Nice.” Spriggs said skiers like him sometimes hear the comment — at times in a condescending way — to describe the lives they choose to lead.
“At the same time, it is really nice,” Spriggs said. “But it also takes a lot of work, dedication, time, sacrifice and money. This is more of a documentary-style movie where we’re going to show more of some of the struggles that go into filming a ski movie. We love it, it’s fun, but it is a lot of work and sacrifices that need to be made.”
Spriggs said the movie will benefit from the improved skills of Clem thanks to his studies at The New School in New York City. Seaton said Clem has worked on more projects since wrapping “Book of Pow,” which should add to the film’s quality.
As for balancing backcountry riding and his halfpipe career, Seaton said his main goal is to stay healthy through the winter while juggling the dual passions. After all, halfpipe events have been canceled to this point — and he wasn’t invited to X Games Aspen — so Seaton will compete at back-to-back World Cup events in Calgary, Alberta, later this winter. He also is hopeful the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix, currently postponed, will be able to take place in March.
For the 30-year-old pro, the scarcity of events puts him in a challenging situation. The back-to-back nature of the World Cups are hard for physical recovery at his age. Though he wants to extend his career as long as possible, he realizes the stakes may be extra high with more pressure at World Cups during an Olympic-qualifying year. With a limited number of events, backcountry filming is that much more important financially.
“It should be one of the highest, most stressful halfpipe-oriented seasons of my career, being an Olympic-qualification year,” Seaton said. “But because of the pandemic, it’s turned into, ‘What do I need to focus on, and how much free time do I have to film something for my sponsors?’” Seaton said. “At the end of the day, we have to help them and ourselves.”
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