Squallywood or Bust

A new Squaw Valley USA ski clinic gets you up-front and center on the resort’s best inside lines—and the silver screen.
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There is perhaps no better place to become a ski-film star than the see-and-be-seen slopes of Squaw Valley USA. Many a cliff-hucking, back-flipping phenom has been discovered here, including extreme ski pioneer Scot Schmidt and ski-BASE jumper Shane McConkey.

But why take chances of a torn ACL and wait for your own big break (metaphorically speaking)? This season, Squaw Valley's new Squallywood clinic pairs plankers and boarders with a photographer and cinematographer to produce their very own ski porn.

All the action is delivered courtesy of legendary Squaw extreme skier Robb Gaffney, MD, the clinic's director, a local psychiatrist, and author of the recently re-released book, Squallywood: A Guide to Squaw Valley's Most Exposed Lines. This tome, which has been lauded as the "Bible of Squaw skiing," delivers an insider's view of the Olympic Valley's most radical, new, and unknown skiing lines.

The Squallywood one-day clinic will attempt to do some of the same, and participants will be filmed and photographed while shredding the slopes here.

"It's kind of like a Fantasy Island for skiing," says Gaffney. "A real immersion experience into the film and photography world; we want to give people the experience of what it's like to go on a shoot for a magazine or film."

Thus, participants will get the chance to ski like McConkey—kind of. Or maybe even with him. Rumor has it that some of Gaffney's famous buddies might just drop in for a cameo during the day.

Gaffney is no stranger to the camera himself; he has appeared in more than ten ski films and still makes an occasional appearance in movies shot by his brother Scott, who is a cinematographer and co-creative director with Matchstick Productions, the famed, Tahoe-based ski-film company.

The Squallywood clinics will be filmed by Duane Kubischta, a local cinematographer who has been shooting and producing award-winning, grassroots ski films through his Adventure Film Works for three years. Jason Abraham, a pro photographer who is making a name in the ski industry through his business Elevated Image (he shot many photos for Squallywood), will be the clinic's photographer.

This team will conduct a full-blown shoot with clinic participants during the morning session and work on producing a distinct, mini ski film for each skier or grom in the afternoon while clinic participants explore the mountain with Gaffney.

"It will be set to music and if someone nails something that was also skied in a ski movie from years past, the producers will link those old clips side-by side in the film," says Gaffney.

The full-day clinic will cap off with après in one of the Squaw Valley bars, where the films—and a slideshow from the day—will be premiered on the big screen. "Participants can see themselves up on the screen and totally live life as a film star," he says.

The Squallywood clinic, which will include a group of six to eight participants, is target=ed to expert skiers; Gaffney will actually speak to each participant via phone beforehand to ensure their ability matches that of the terrain covered in the clinic. "Originally we wanted to do a ski-the-book clinic," he says. "But a lot of the routes are really tough and the likelihood of skiing all of them in a day is very low. We might hit some, and we might have some expert skiers who do it all."

Gaffney adds that many of the toughest lines can still be accessed, so participants can check them out without skiing down. And, while the Squallywood clinic is not intended as a skills-building session, Gaffney says he will offer tips and suggestions on things such as carving steep turns throughout the day.

Access and Resources
The Squallywood clinic's cost ($399 for season-pass holders; $449 for clinic and lift ticket) includes a full day of skiing and filming, lunch, and an après party, plus the take-home DVD of ski footage and images from the day. It is slated to take place at Squaw Valley USA ski resort on January 26 and March 8; a third date may also be added. For more information, call Squaw Valley USA at 530-583-6985 or email scowley@squaw.com. Gaffney's Squallywood book is available online at www.squallywoodthebook.com.

Published: 14 Dec 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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