Marcus Caston never had an ah-ha moment. The revelation built up slowly over the years.
When you grow up skiing at Snowbird, as he did with his dad, you learn to master steep, technical terrain, and not the wide-open kind either. Forget straight lines and stomping huge drops. There’s no corking your 1080s. To shoot the ‘bird you pop through tight spaces and work your way down the spooky spots, relying on skill and style. You know, you make a lot of turns.
Turns? As in, on the ground and — gulp — plural? That’s exactly what Caston realized he wasn’t seeing in ski movies. Think flying jibbers, fast music and three turns per every 2,000 vertical feet: “It just doesn’t look like the skiing I do,” he says. “A lot of these guys you see are doing really impressive stunts but they’re not the best technical skiers. I enjoy watching good skiing, the kind that happens on the ground, and I thought there was some room to show that.”
If you haven’t seen Caston’s “The Return of the Turn” video series, do yourself a favor and watch it now, especially if you have a soft spot for old school skiing. The four-part project, shot in places like Snowbird and Squaw Valley, is Caston’s answer to just how much room there is for having fun with fundamentals in front of the camera. Settle down with Caston for a few minutes and you’ll see whole sequences of skiers piping trenches on regular ol’ groomers. They ski corn. They ski powder. Moguls happen. “I can’t give anyone a good reason to ski moguls,” says Olympic mogul skier Jonny Moseley, who appears in one of the segments. “I think you have to be kind of sick.”
Return Of The Turn – Episode 1
“Oh yeah, I love me some icy moguls,” Caston says, in all seriousness, adding that breakable crust is good, too. “If the conditions are hard and difficult, I kind of dig it.”
Caston, a Helly Hansen athlete who also rides for Tecnica, POC, and Blizzard, gives the series plenty of ‘80s flair, with title screens decked out in neon. He sports bad facial hair choices while Tim Jones, his lone cameraman, pushed for a soundtrack that bows its hair-sprayed head in synthed-out homage to the movie “Rad,” the “Hotdog” of BMX movies. All of this retro-ness is on purpose, of course. “The eighties, man, that’s when people used equipment that was way harder to ski and they made the skiing look really good,” Caston says. “That took a lot of skill. Those guys are way better at skiing than we are today.”
At 29 years old, Caston missed much of the ‘80s himself but he had plenty of help catching up. He grew enthralled with Greg Stump movies. Caston’s father, Harry, bummed it out to Utah that decade to work at Snow Pine Lodge and to ski Alta. After Caston was born, it wasn’t long before some of his father’s institutional knowledge began to filter down to him. In fact, some of Caston’s earliest memories are of his father showing him how to poach the hot tub at Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge after a day of skiing.
From there, Caston eventually worked his way into ski racing at Snowbird and soon his life revolved around the sport. He was a speed guy and loved having a whole run, top to bottom, just for himself, but he wasn’t speedy enough to make the US team. Instead he studied business marketing at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. All the while he skied often just for fun, though he did win Daron Rahlves’s 2011 Banzai race, which is basically a Chinese downhill over a mogul field. Eventually Caston started working with photographers and landing full page photos in ski magazines. One day Ted Ligety, the Olympian, called with an offer he couldn’t refuse. “There was another spot on a Warren Miller movie up in Alaska and he wanted to know if I wanted it,” Caston says. “So, I went up to Alaska.”
For now, the four “Return of the Turn” segments each focus on a different aspect of good, on-the-ground skiing — groomers, moguls, powder, and corn — and hopefully all of them should be out by New Years. The powder segment is the only one that still needs a bit more weather-dependent footage, but Caston isn’t waiting around for those cherry days to fall in his lap.
“It’s just a fact that skiing isn’t good every day,” he says. “But what are you going to do, just stay home and not go skiing? No, you go skiing.”