Travel Diaries- Nuit de la Glisse film shoot
Point of view of Thierry Donard, Director of the Nuit de la Glisse films.
Loic Collomb-Patton – Newly-crowned world freeride ski champion, the French rider from La Clusaz is back in front of the Nuit de la Glisse cameras for his comeback after an injury that cut his season short last year
Wille Lindberg - Known in the freeride world for his aggressive style, Wille is featuring in Nuit de la Glisse for the 2nd time
Matt Annetts – Nuit de la Glisse ambassador for many years, this snowboarder has not lost any of his feel for the snow and is back with even more drive!
Over a month after shooting commenced, three weeks of dreadful conditions... Every day I poured over the world’s weather charts with Yann, our meteorologist; the Alps, the Dolomites, Norway, Canada and even Alaska…Alaska seemed to offer the best conditions but it's a heavy, distant expedition and after some serious thought I decided to be patient and wait for a little while in the Alps, knowing that the right conditions would come along eventually.
Just as I was losing faith, a highly active disturbance popped up on the radar and was about to bring us huge amounts of snow. In a matter of days the mountain was transformed.
The pressure was mounting, we knew that the conditions were finally looking epic but not without its fair share of danger. What's more, we'd decided to shoot on the same mountain that Loïc had his accident on the previous year. He was about to return to the scene of the crime. Matt and Wille would also be by his side to reassure him and boost his confidence.
Before sunrise, we walked over to our take off point in the dark. Looking round at the other members of the team, guides, technicians and athletes, I realised that I might be the most relaxed but I'd had a terrible night without much sleep. I had a knotted stomach myself but I tried my best to not let it show. Loïc wasn’t able to hide anything though, he was nervous to the point of being sick before we even took off.
This year I decided to place a camera and the foot of the face to try and capture the athletes’ emotions on film as they happen. I didn’t want to have to make them recount these moments afterwards because they are so intense that nothing can replace the words that come out at the end of the run itself.
We chose to start the day off gently using the far end of the shortest face to get an idea of the snowpack’s stability. Last year we had made the mistake of starting too strong so this year we would steadily build up the intensity.
Loïc was to play the opening part because I wanted to release the pressure as soon as possible. The first three runs were truly exceptional and this was the green light we'd all been waiting for before pushing any harder.
Although we didn't have time to discuss it right then, the look we shared with our technical team said it all, we knew we were capturing something extraordinary and in all-time conditions... This is exactly what we explained to the athletes the following day. In the end we decided to get right out onto the face to get closer to the riders. Shooting from there is much more dangerous but we were reassured by the behavior of the snow during the first few runs so I was able to get my camera really nice and close to the action with fantastic results.
The runs just kept coming one after the other- we knew we had to make the most out of the day with the riders choosing new, more hardcore lines on the face and taking it in turns to tear up the untouched steeps. The conditions really were unique, the snow was stable despite there being a meter and a half of powder. The riders were spraying so much snow up that after each turn they’d come out plastered head to toe in white gold.
Our helicopter pilot, himself an ex professional freerider had also never seen anything like it in his career. He was as privileged as I was to witness the exploits of these sportsmen who were able to channel their fears and brave the apocalyptic conditions. Watching Matt surge through of a wave of snow, he couldn’t help but compare the face to the mythical giant wave in Tahiti, Teahupoo.
The team showed up all guns blazing that day. Our guides, cameramen and helicopter pilot were truly all top of their game. The stakes were high and the conditions were difficult so I was delighted to have been able to capture footage that I think is hard to top.
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