The Orage Masters mascot for 2013. Surreal entry to a surreal event. photo: G Randolph
They call it the anti-comp. “They” being more specifically the French Canadians and their international brand of irreverent entertainment, vices, and ski apparel bearing the name “Orage”. A battle royale for the ages. Visually disorienting; competitively uncompetitive. And yes, “It” really happened in Sun Valley.
Thought not an entirely novel concept–get crazy and party your brains out at the end of the year– the Orage Masters returned after a two year hiatus from the anti-competition circuit bringing a flare of end-of-the-year revelry that caught the Sun Valley locals a little off guard. Accompanying their traveling gong-show was some heavy local talent with Collin Collins, Banks Gilberti, and Karl Fostvedt back on home turf to represent. I was stoked to bring my young, impressionable pre-teens to see them rip and they did not disappoint.
The notion is fairly simple: get together all of your best buds after a season of traveling, competing and filming where the stakes are high, strip off the stressful veneer of being a pro, and then put it all on the line just for the heck of it. By “all on the line” it would appear this means finding whatever means necessary to compromise your ability to ski effectively, then over come said self-imposed impediments and rip open a can of whoop ass and let fly with your best tricks and creativity. A little like pre-paying your kids their allowance, pouring a couple of cans of Red Bull into them, and letting them run around the playground with flaming chainsaws I suppose you could say.
Teams were created with film companies like Level 1, 4bi9 Media, Stept Productions, and Inspired Media bringing their key athletes together, coming up with a theme for costumery, throwing down heavy tricks while simultaneously producing a video segment of the team’s efforts and acts of ill repute. Rumors of bottle rockets exploding in pants and the local market being bought out of canned beer raised few eyebrows demanding little extra explanation once the spectacle was taken in.
On the day of the big competition, we made our way through the melting snow, decomposing spring grass and dog poo slurry up the isothermic snow slope on Sun Valley’s park playground at Dollar Mountain. I didn’t have a beer in my hand (poor planning), but we were not disappointed as the show was truly deserving of an “all time” rating.
The usual trappings of a big spring ski party were evident–blaring music, girls in bikinis and plenty of questionable behavior. But what was not perhaps to expected were skiers throwing huge tricks like corked 1080’s, triple backflips and double front flips for the sake of a few hundred fans and industry brodeos in attendance. Dressed in every sort of sartorial expression, the festive atmosphere was a bit contagious.
It was hard to tell exactly what was happening but it didn’t matter. Teams were battling each other with a combined scoring of tricks, antics, stupidity, and shenanigans as they completely decimated what was left of the two massive booters, three rails and box set up on the slope. You could feel the competition slowly start to spiral into a state of unraveled chaos, but in the nick of time, a winner was chosen. By the end of the day it was Level 1 and 4bi9 Media in the finals. Something tipped the judges over the edge and Level 1 emerged victorious taking home $10k cold American cash and the bragging rights of winning skiing’s most notorious competition. It was audacious and it was insane. The impression left on my children hopefully mostly of the tricks and costumes. A complete write up and some videos are available at Freeskier Magazine.
Photos: Tal Roberts