At the age of 4 I fell in love with the slopes. So when the opportunity to film for Ski Television in South America came up, I jumped at the chance to combine my two passions – filmmaking and skiing. For a week, my office was going to be the Andes Mountains. Adventure was calling my name and I was prepared to answer.
When you think about South America, you’re probably more likely to envision rainforests than ski resorts, but the truth is South America has a rich history of amazing skiing. Back in 1966, Chile hosted its first ever Alpine World Ski Championships. To this day, it’s the only one ever to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. That championship was hosted at the Portillo Ski Resort, the same resort where I was headed.
Landing is Santiago, Chile’s capital, was a surreal experience. While fall was just starting to show its face back at home in Ontario, the air in Santiago was warm and the palm trees were waving. We loaded up our luggage and gear and headed north, out of the heat and way, way up, into the Andes Mountains. After two and half hours, we arrived at the Portillo Resort. The resort staff were warm and welcoming and the whole crew quickly felt at home.
Adapting to the elements
The Portillo Resort sits at an elevation of 12,000 feet. I noticed pretty quickly how that affected my breathing. At times, the altitude even made sleep difficult. But sleep, or no sleep, we were going to be hitting the slopes and we were going to be hitting them hard. My love of skiing was about to marry my love of camerawork in a big way.
While in Portillo we were capturing footage of the Canadian Men’s Alpine Team, and on no ordinary terrain. The resort is nestled in the mountains next to the gorgeous Laguna del Inca O del Portillo lake, just west of the Argentinian border, with 35 designated groomed runs and endless open space for mountain skiing beyond those, craggy rock faces, and breathtaking views.
My skis became an endless dolly track. With a steady hand, my Atlas Camera Support and some creativity, I was able to follow the athlete’s doing what they do best- racing downhill at incredible speeds. It was extreme filming and I loved every minute of it.
The U.S. Women’s Alpine Team was also in Portillo. I had the privilege of capturing them in action too, at one point riding on the back of a snowmobile driven by Coach Paul Kristofic, to get the perfect shot.
All in all, the journey to Chile was an incredible one. With a whole new appreciation for the amazing skiing opportunities offered in South America, and having had the opportunity to use my unique abilities behind the camera and on the slopes simultaneously, I headed back to Canada a happy filmmaker, ready to do it all again.
Content director and contributor: Jennie Hoekstra
Photographs: Mark Kristofic, Claire Challen