Throughout her athletic career, 31-year-old professional freeskier McKenna Peterson has always put collaboration and helping others first. While she’s definitely put together some incredible skiing segments for Warren Miller Entertainment and video projects with her sponsors K2 Skis and SCOTT Wintersports, Peterson is one of the most encouraging, polite athletes around, always ready to assist others before teeing up her own lines to get the shot.
That’s why it’s no real surprise that, despite her signature style of smoothly skiing big mountain lines with speed, she’s never released her own season edit until now.
“I’ve never wanted to be in a situation where I was making it all about me,” she tells SKImag.com. “It’s nice to have partners, and it’s nice to be part of a bigger project and a group mindset. It’s nice when the creative process comes from more than one person.”
Last season, however, the Sun Valley resident found herself spending a lot of time skiing with her younger brother Axel in Montana. The 29-year-old Peterson sibling cut his teeth both skiing and filming with the Bridger Brigade for nearly a decade, but began doing commercial videography when much of the Brigade crew started dispersing from Montana. The stars just aligned during the 2018 season: With the southwest part of the state around Bozeman receiving record-breaking snowfall, the two siblings decided to work together on making something special.
McKenna, Axel, and younger sister Dylan grew up skiing and working together on their family’s salmon fishing boat during the summer, so creating Montaña together was a natural fit. “We’re all very close, and always have been,” says McKenna. “We are each other’s main ski partners. At the same time, we all grew up together working on the boat, which put us in close quarters and high stress environments. We’re the perfect mountain partners.”
“If something goes wrong in the mountains, we know how each of us is going to deal, and we know we can rely on each other,” she continues. “Some of my biggest missions that I’ve done, especially in [Idaho’s] Sawtooths, have been with Axel and Dylan. For some of those 16-, 17-, and 18-hour days, they’re my favorite people to be with because I know they can handle it, what it looks like when they start to crash or bonk or get tired, and I also trust that if something were to go wrong, they would know how to deal. We’re pretty lucky that we have each other for that.”
For Montaña, McKenna and Axel’s first project together, the duo had everything they needed in each other to make something special. “I had a filmer and ski partner I trusted above anyone else in my brother,” McKenna says. “It was nice to have a filmer who is ultimately as capable, or even more capable, than myself in the mountains. That’s pretty key for getting deep back there every day, and making sure that you’re in the right environment, because the camera’s only coming out when it’s right.”
The goal of the project was to film only backcountry lines in the Bridger Mountains and in another mountain range near Missoula. They would use snowmobiles to access trailheads, then ski tour to the bigger mountains seen in the video. “All the lines were hiked or climbed,” says Peterson. She also wanted most of the shots in Montaña to be presented as a little skier in a big landscape, a style that the Bridger Brigade mastered with Axel behind the lens.
“I was pretty keen on having the edit be mostly high-speed, big line skiing because that’s what I like to do, and that’s what I go out and do when there aren’t cameras around,” says McKenna. “I didn’t want anything to change between what I go out to ski on a regular basis, and what I would ski with my brother when he does have his camera. The ultimate goal was to make it very ‘me.’ This is what I do, everyday, nothing changes because there’s a camera around.”
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Based on the quality of the skiing and videography in Montaña, we hope this isn’t the last collaboration between the Peterson siblings.