In a New Film, Freeskiers Work It '5 to 9' | Live Culture

In a New Film, Freeskiers Work It '5 to 9'

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You probably shouldn't try this kind of thing. - COURTESY HG SKIS / CHARLES STEMEN
  • Courtesy HG Skis / Charles Stemen
  • You probably shouldn't try this kind of thing.

UPDATE (October 7, 2014):
5 to 9 has just been made freely available online by its makers, and you can watch it in full below. That means that you can now vicariously experience some seriously hardcore winter-sports acrobatics. Gear up for winter without leaving the comfort of your own computer desk!


In high school, my friend Chris used to work in our town's skate shop. He worked the counter, selling "trucks" and wheels and other stuff that skateboarders understood. I never 'boarded but had several friends who did, and we all used to hang around at the store when Chris was working. On the wall behind the counter, the store owners had mounted a TV with a VCR and, when we weren't watching The Song Remains the Same or Pink Floyd: The Wall, we watched skate videos.

These were unencumbered by narratives, composed of shot after shot of incredible skateboard stunts (and plenty of wipeouts — the funnest parts). They were usually set to thrash music, which is how I got my taste for Suicidal Tendencies. As a budding film enthusiast, I was interested in these videos. Now I see that they're actually pretty close to avant-garde film in their rejection of story and emphasis on astonishing visuals. 

Screening this week for the first time in Vermont is the new film 5 to 9, directed by Charles Stemen and Sam Rogers. Produced by the Burlington-based freestyle ski company HG Skis, the film isn't exactly avant-garde. But viewing it brought me back to the days of watching all those VHS tapes of skateboarders riding and crashing spectacularly.


Though there's the occasional scene of fueling up at a fast-food drive-in, 5 to 9 mostly sticks to what it does best: scenes of skiers doing crazy shit. These guys do stuff on skis that I can't even do on foot. Check out the trailer below.


In this short, which recently premiered at Montréal's International Freeski Film Festival, skiers slide down banisters, across parking lots and atop big, old outdoor industrial electrical housings. They wipe out a lot, sure, but they get up to ski again, preferably during the off-hours referred to by the film's title. The crisp videography (and frequent use of the fisheye lens) make the stunts look all the more impressive.

I don't care for skiing any more than I care for skateboarding or surfing. But that's part of the reason it's so much fun to watch movies about people who can do those things really well.

5 to 9's Vermont premiere will take place on Thursday, October 2, 8 p.m., at Billings Lecture Hall, University of Vermont, in Burlington. The ski film less will also screen that night. $5/$3 students/free for UVM SSC members. More info.

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