Sammy Carlson's two-year movie project
At this point in his career, Sammy Carlson has gotten pretty used to living in the middle of the skiing limelight. From landing the sport's first switch triple rodeo 12 to winning eight X Games medals (three of them Real Ski Backcountry gold) to filming segments for big-time production companies like Poor Boyz Productions and Teton Gravity Research, Carlson has become quite a big star. His newest endeavor, a self-titled movie two years in the making called "The Sammy C Project," will likely be hailed in the future as the turning point that marked Carlson's evolution from kicker kid to legend status.
Honing his skills on the big jumps of Mount Hood, Oregon, Carlson rose to fame in the big air and slopestyle arena. He started showing up on podiums at the age of 17 and became a regular fixture. In 2012, he arrived at X Games Aspen prepared to defend his 2011 slopestyle gold medal but injured his knee in the Big Air event. In the down time that followed, Carlson re-evaluated his place in skiing and decided that he needed a new approach to the sport.
"I always promised myself that when I got to the point of being burnt out I wouldn't stay in that position," says Carlson. "I wanted to remain grateful. I didn't want to become a hater and not happy with where I was in skiing."
Curious about what lay outside the manicured lanes of the terrain park and the structured format of competitions, Carlson looked toward the backcountry as the solution to keeping skiing fresh and fun. Freed from the burden of having to perform to impress a booth of judges, he began the exploring the possibilities that the off-piste realm could offer.
Now, three years later, with a second trip to Alaska under his belt, Carlson has become a force to reckon with in yet another aspect of the sport. The "Sammy C Project" is a pure demonstration of his ability to apply his natural talent to virtually any condition and terrain type. Whether juicing through technical pillow lines, slashing Alaskan spines or boosting high above the clouds on the kickers at Mount Hood, Carlson's skiing validates his decision to escape the commotion and standardization of competition in favor of something new.
"I've just been opening up the drawing board, not being limited by contests consuming half my winter," says Carlson. "It's just allowing me to have more time and creative freedom to focus on the unimaginable, on trying to push my riding to new heights."
Equipped with TGR's NASA-worthy filming equipment, a group of like-minded snow fiends, and a team of sponsors supporting his quest for freeski salvation, Carlson embarked on his journey to transcend boundaries and take his freestyle ski style into big mountain settings. After handpicking TGR to accompany him on his quest, Carlson and company took to the mountains to accomplish his vision.
"They've given me complete creative freedom to do what I want along the way," he says, "and allowed me to form a team that I'm super-psyched on." Carlson's vision has steered the movie project, both in filming and in post-production. He's spent most of the summer locked in an TGR editing bay, remaining fully hands-on behind the scenes as the movie heads toward completion.
Unlike many athletes in the modern spotlight, Carlson has ambitions for his project to do more than cash in and create an "MTV Cribs"-worthy lifestyle. His intentions are to inspire, but not just for the community of teenage skiers who emulate the pros they study online.
"I'm not doing this for the image," says Carlson. "I want kids to see I did this without a coach. I want to inspire people. It's all about the feeling. I want to represent pure hard work. I hope people are inspired for the right reasons."
Carlson maintains that growing up skiing without a coach gave him the independence and opportunity for growth that allowed him to create his own unique view on what skiing should be and how to go about making it to the top. This project is more than just an exhibit of style and creativity -- it's his ode to working hard and accomplishing dreams. It's also his way of giving back to the community and of creating something progressive he hopes can leave a mark and inspire the ski stars of the future.
This is by no means the end of the road. This project marks the beginning of his exploration into the seemingly endless opportunities of the backcountry. The "Sammy C Project" is Carlson's attempt to encourage the movement of individuality and personal expression in the ever-growing sport of freestyle skiing by embodying it himself, and it's just the tip of the iceberg.
"The Sammy C Project" premieres Friday, Nov. 20, in Portland, Oregon. Check out TetonGravity.com for more info on tickets and tour dates.