Posted on April 02 2019
Athlete/artist/designer/musician Sämi Ortlieb has quietly been producing some of the most creative segments in skiing over the past few years, taking his über-well-rounded skill set from the streets to backcountry lines and pow and everything in between. On the tail end of the 2018 season he rounded up a motley crew of riders and shapers to create a park segment unlike anything that’s been done before. We sat down with Sämi to ask him how this whole thing came together.
Where did the original inspiration for this shoot come from?
Sämi: In the past few seasons I've been scouting some urban and backcountry features that included water, so the idea to think of some park features with pond skim seemed pretty obvious.
You ran some "proof of concept" tests during the Spring/Summer of 2017- what did you learn from those tests about how the shoot could work?
Sämi: My goal with those tests was to figure out what materials work best/ are easy available / and would look good. I tested different tarp materials, different colors, clear ones and also different sizes. Like i tried to build a firecracker feature out of those blue Ikea bags, which failed btw.
Another thing i wanted to figure out was how hard/easy is it going to be to get the water for the ponds. I did the test right next to a creek and i had to get the water with buckets. That kinda sucked. And obviously the main part of the tests was to find creative angles of how to film the skiing.
You partnered up with Gran Masta Park- why did you chose that location and how did partnering with them work out?
Sämi: I reached out to Marcel Brünisholz, the mastermind behind the Gran Masta Park in Adelboden. He is probably the most passionate Shaper/Parkbuilder i know. He can work for like 72 hours straight without sleep, if he wants to build something. Just an overall mad man when it comes to moving snow for skiing :)
I've allready been working with Marcel for the last 6 years or so in the summer in Zermatt, so it was awesome to do it with him. After we got the ok from the resort, I met with Marcel in Adelboden to see which features we could build and where we could build them. A couple weeks later, after the ski resort was closed, I returned together with a crew to Adelboden and we started to build.
What was the building process like?
Sämi: The building process was insanely intense. We didn't have a very big crew and Marcel was the only one left from the park crew. So everybody had to shovel, shape and dig pits for the pond skims. We had pretty long days on the mountain. One thing that worked better than expected was to fill up the pools. The resort let us use the water and hoses they would usually use for snowmaking.
How was the shooting?
Sämi: For most of the shoot we only had Robin there as a filmer and it's pretty tough to film a park shoot with only one filmer. So what ended up happening was that i just tried to get my shots right of the bat so i could go and shoot second angles. Then i would ski again once everybody else was done or too wet. Lucky for us we had Clemens Jezler come out for two days and help us film.
Tell us about who was in the crew and what roles they played… on both sides of the camera.
Sämi: Marcel Brünisholz was obviously a key figure. He was driving the cat, shaping, doing snowmobile laps and also skiing!
To document everything we had Robin Lee filimg the segment. Also Ruedi Flück showed up for a few days to take photos as well as Clemens Jezler who help with filming for two days. For building and skiing we had Till Matti, Laurent de Martin, as well as Andrin Tgetgel and Christian Moser who both came out to help and ski for a few days. And not to forget Laurents buddy Numa, who help with the shaping.
Who got the wettest?
Sämi: I wanna say I did haha
What were the biggest challenges that you faced?
Sämi: We had tarps that leaked or ripped, extremely wet clothes and sleds breaking down right at sunset... Also even though the days were extremely warm, the temps would still go bellow freezing during the night so in the mornings we would have a layer of ice on the ponds we had to get out again. But the biggest challenge was time. We just didn't have enough time to bring the idea to it's full potential so we had focus on the features and ideas that made the most sense to do with the snow and terrain we had. So many fun ideas we couldn't build. Another big challenge were the underwater shots. it was hard to get the cameras in the right position, have the water be still and the skier jump in the right spot. Just a lot of factors coming together, which made those shots pretty hard.
What do you have in store for this year?
Sämi: For this year I’ll be shoveling even more snow around. Instead of only moving the snow once, we’ll be moving the snow multiple times hahah.
Stay tune for Level 1’s 20th annual feature film to see what tricks Sämi has up his sleeve… you won’t be disappointed.