An Iconic Day – Sept. 24, 2009
We’re packing boxes into Air Patti, the 1978 Airstream, when the phone vibrates in my pocket. Caller ID says Glen Plake. I’ve been waiting for this call since I’d sent him a DVD of the movie. It’s really important to me to hear that Plake, one of the key players in the film, likes it.
You sound like you’re packing boxes, says Plake.
Good ear, I say.
I told Kimberly, those guys are packing boxes. They must be on tour.
I tell him we’re gearing up for our Park City show.
He asks me about the motor home and I describe the inner workings of Air Patti.
You’re lucky you got that big block engine, he says, the low growl of his voice actually sounding a lot like the Chevy 454 with the four-barrel carb. We talk RVs for a while – he and his wife Kimberly are about to head out on another Down Home Tour in theirs – and then he says, So I watched the thing.
The thing would be our movie. The thing is not the way I want this conversation to begin. This is not a good start.
And I think it’s really, like …he stalls, looking for a word.
Yeah? I say.
Eloquent? I repeat, did Glen Plake just use that word? That doesn’t sound like a Glen Plake word. That sounds a lot like the fancy word you use when you don’t want to use a simple one that says you didn’t like the guy’s film who’s on the other end of the line and who has worked five years on the thing.
Yeah, it’s like eloquent. Maybe the only ski film I could ever say that about.
But did you like it?
I think you got something, he says. Maybe the best film since ‘Blizzard.’ Yeah, I liked it. A lot.
We kept talking after that – about him trying join us on the tour and about his globe trotting schedule — but I didn’t register much. The Edge of Never had been given the Plake blessing. After that, everything else was just engine noise.
Park City’s Egyptian Theater is packed. We kick off the night by having Dynastar’s VP of Sales, Dennis Gaspari bring his two boys up on stage with him. Together, a father and two sons give away a ridiculous amount of Dynastar skis and swag that Dennis has donated to the cause. Then we have Rossignol’s CEO Francois Goulet come up and give away some Rossi boards and together Dennis and Francois introduce the movie. I like the vibe. It feels like it’s not just my film that I’m presenting to an audience. It’s more inclusive than that, like this is a film for and about all of us. This is what I’d always hoped a show would feel like. The house lights go down and the film comes up and I pace the back of the theater like a maternity ward Dad. The positive vibes have made me even more nervous about the crowd’s reaction. What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if I’m faced with a quiet and polite crowd at the end?
Many of my friends are here, people who’ve supported me and this film since the beginning. I need it to go well. Not well. I need it to kill. Kill for my friends, kill for them to feel like their faith in me has been founded.
I’m pacing and listening. There’s laughing in the laughing places and sniffling in the sniffling places. And somewhere above me in the balcony, there are loud cheers in the cheering places and whoops in places I never heard whoops. I slip up there and try to see who is making all the enthusiastic noise. From the back, I can only see a knit hat, striped red, yellow, and green.
After the credits finish, I take the stage and start with a question-and-answer session. The crowd seems stoked, not quiet and not polite. A dozen hands shoot up when I ask for questions. And then I see the same knit hat that I saw in the balcony, only now it’s coming down the aisle toward me. And now I put together the meaning of the red, gold and green: rasta colors. It all makes sense when I recognize the guy under the hat, a guy the crowd will surely recognize, seven-time X Games skiing gold medalist Tanner Hall.
I wanna say a word, he says, mounting the stage.
I look into his eyes, trying to get a read on where he’s coming from, but his hat is pulled low and the stage lights plunge his eyes into shadow. Here’s what I know about Tanner Hall: he is a very good skier, outspoken, and passionate. For the last eight or nine years he’s been a big brother and mentor to Kye Petersen. He is famous and infamous. I hand him the mic.
That’s the best piece that’s been done on skiing since Greg Stump in the Eighties, he says. And I’m proud to be a skier tonight.
So am I, I say to the crowd.
And then I turn the mic off an step off the stage, thinking how can I follow that act? And, Why bother?