Montana-based skiers Parkin Costain and Jake Hopfinger rip on local terrain
By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER
BOZEMAN – The conditions are good, any challenges have sorted themselves out and the stars are aligned. It’s not something you can schedule, nor a specific time of the day—magic hour happens when all the pieces just come together naturally.
Teton Gravity Research’s latest ski film focuses on these special moments on the mountain. “Magic Hour” will premier in Bozeman at the Emerson Center for the Arts on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The film showcases skiing and riding across North America from 20 different athletes including longtime legends Ian McIntosh and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa. Among them, Montana-based skiers Parkin Costain and Jake Hopfinger filmed with TGR in various locations—including some local stomping grounds—for the film.
For Hopfinger, the movie is a bit of a “dream come true.” He moved out to Bozeman from his home state of New York to attend Montana State University and found the skiable terrain nearby to inspire new backcountry and big mountain pursuits.
After a few years of putting in the work, showing up to events and working on small projects, Hopfinger made an in with the TGR crew. When I asked him if he ever thought he’d be in big ski films, he said: “Totally not. It’s been a lucky run for me and I’m just thankful that I have the opportunity to do it.”
“Magic Hour” is comprised of various segments featuring groups of two or three skiers and riders exploring a different location or objective. Skiers ride pillow lines near Jackson Hole, skin into remote regions of British Columbia and take helicopters to Alaskan peaks.
Alongside these big lines, just a little more than halfway through the movie, Hopfinger, Costain and skier Amy David find some local terrain in a Montana segment of the film. They hit up the Beartooth Mountains, the Bridger Range and what Costain referred to as a few “secret spots.”
Last year’s less-than-ideal snow conditions made so-called magic hours more difficult to come by. The proximity of town to the zones the crew was filming in ended up playing a key role in the segment’s completion.
“It definitely was slim pickings last winter,” Costain said. “We just never really had those good days—at least on the trip we were on—so we were just picking away at it every single day for a month straight.”
Since both Hopfinger and Costain are based out of Gallatin County, they were able to film in some key areas close to home.
“One day that was pretty special for us, we were skiing super close to Bozeman, and we just woke up in the morning and it was 15 minutes to the hill,” Hopfinger said. “We had epic light and epic snow, everyone skied something that we’re really psyched on and we just had an epic morning.”
Although it’s not immediately obvious how accessible most of the Montana ski terrain is, much of the filming for “Magic Hour” is in locations far more remote than the Bridgers. For one of the final segments of the film, Costain traveled to Alaska with fellow athletes Tim Durtschi, Nick McNutt and Kai Jones to ski some big lines via helicopter access.
“Last season was especially rad because I got the call to go up to Alaska, which is the prime spot for TGR movies and where I can showcase my skiing the best I think,” Costain said. “It was just an unreal experience.”
It took two trips to Alaska for all of the pieces to align for the segment they were aiming for. They waited, prepared, and when the moment was right, enjoyed the snow.
The theme of waiting is a connecting thread throughout the film, and something ever-present in skiing culture—we wait all summer for winter, we wait all winter for the perfect snow pack, and somewhere along the way, if we’re lucky, we are rewarded with an hour of magic.