By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – A parking lot full of honking cars would usually appear to be a traffic nightmare, but on the evening of Nov. 15, the honks were celebratory, in appreciation of a drive-in movie and the sponsors that made it possible.
Teton Gravity Research partnered with the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation to host a drive-in premiere of their film, “Make Believe” in Big Sky.
“Make Believe is whatever your wildest imagination can dream up,” said TGR co-founder Steve Jones. “It’s an unwavering commitment to that dream in order to make it reality. Ultimately it has been in the works for 25 years. Realizing all-time conditions in almost every location this past season, Make Believe showcases some of the most progressive athletes and riding on the planet. We are pumped to kick off winter with innovative worldwide screenings at locations such as Drive Ins, Outdoor Pop-up Theaters, private screenings, and more.”
The event was initially scheduled for Friday, Nov. 13 but mother nature had other ideas. Wind and snow postponed the screening, but the sold-out show was still packed on Sunday evening.
In an empty parking lot, just off Simkins Drive, a large movie screen was set up and cars were directed to park in offset rows to view the film. Families brought camp chairs and plenty of blankets and the excitement was palpable. Everyone was there to get inspired for the coming ski season by watching some breathtaking lines and gravity-defying tricks delivered by talented athletes.
Proceeds from ticket sales for the evening supported BSSEF and a lot of young athletes were in attendance to watch some of their role models on the big screen.
“All the kids look up to these athletes, they know a lot of the athletes and it’s fun to bring everyone together,” said Wallace Casper, the head coach of the Freeride team. “It keeps the kids super motivated too, you know they’ve always got people they’re looking up to.”
BSSEF has several teams, including their Youth Ski League, Buddy Werner, the Junior Development and Freeride teams, a Nordic program and even a Master’s program for adults.
According to Casper, BSSEF was able to devote 100 percent of the proceeds from the film screening to benefit their Alpine, Freeride and Nordic teams thanks to Visit Big Sky, which footed the bill to transport and set up the screen.
“It is definitely not cheap to set up something that massive so without Visit Big Sky we would have had massive expenses and probably would have only, basically, broken even on the event,” said Casper.
The event went off without a hitch and the audience had a great time honking horns, flashing headlights and hooting and hollering in excitement. The film was awe-inspiring, funny, heartwarming and sobering.
Amid the antics and huge tricks was a timely reminder that avalanches are an ever-present danger.
In the film, athlete Nick McNutt is buried after triggering an avalanche on what he and his peers thought was a low-risk pillow line. The screen goes dark as we listen to the heavy breathing and frantic shouts of his friends looking for him. They were able to find him just by probing since his transceiver was not emitting a signal.
The film was a good mix of general stoke for the season, important safety reminders and even a dose of nostalgia near the end in the form of a montage of clips from past TGR films.
After the film, there was a quick raffle, where attendees won prizes that included Black Diamond skis and a Backcountry Access pack.
The screening was a great chance for the Big Sky community to come together and celebrate the onset of winter and ski season safely.
“It’s super fun to be able to get the community together first of all right now, I think it’s a really cool way to be able to do a drive-in movie and still have an event like this,” said Casper. “And then, I think that ski movies are fun for everyone.”