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High Five Festival is a tribute the skiers deserve

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We could talk about the facts, but it's really not about that. It's about the feelings, the dreams and about the skiers who are the real stars of freeskiing.


The High Five Festival just ended on Sunday evening, as riders and spectators slowly came back down to earth after the Level 1 movie. Looking back at this crazy weekend, I think of the vibes of the first night as the right feeling that a ski film festival and even freeskiing should make you feel.

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It’s not enough to talk about the facts, the number of spectators, the movies, the taste of the burgers, the thousands of stickers, the 70 people on staff, the crazy parties, the liters of beer consumed, the commercials before each video, the village full of screaming kids getting autographs from riders they don’t even know. We can’t properly recap the facts when so much happens, so let’s talk about the emotion instead.

On Friday night I watched “For Lack of Better,” and then the tribute to JP Auclair right afterward. These were two radically different screening sessions on two different topics, two sides to the same conclusion: skiers are really awesome.

The Clayton Vila project reminded me how much riders give of themselves to realize their projects, to show you the best and inspire you. How they dedicate their lives and bodies to skiing, even when they know that it really isn’t worth it. How riders can start off in the park, and end up directing a movie throughout the whole winter, getting up and sending it again even after trying a rail for the 132nd time…

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JP’s tribute made me realize how many wonderful people are involved in this sport, and even if so much of what we do seems frivolous, the stories, emotions, skills and the people behind them are real, and strong. I realized how creative these people are, always seeking to inspire, and how much we respect them for being extraordinary.

Guillaume Desmurs told me during a conversation: “Like with rock stars – we don’t expect them to act reasonably, we hope for more.” It made me think about what I saw, and how jealous I can be of people giving so much to a passion and a dream. Even if I make fun of Gaylord Pedretti, the High Five organizer, when he talks about “kids’ dreams, blah blah blah”, he really isn’t that far off.

It was just the first evening of three intense days, but for me it said everything. Luckily I hadn’t seen JF Houle’s movie yet – otherwise this text would be much longer…

Thanks to the skiers for being awesome, thanks to the filmmakers for capturing it and making it look incredible, thanks to the High Five Festival for bringing it to a large audience, and thanks to this audience who shares the passion for this incredible sport.

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