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Ten Years Later, the Influence of “All.I.Can” Is Still Everywhere in Skiing

The stories we tell about climate change and skiing all take a page from the original film by Sherpas Cinema 

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The first skier doesn’t appear in the film All.I.Can until 5:54 into the film. The shot is the reflection of a skier, making a sweeping turn through powder, in an eyeball.

The choice sets the movie up for what’s to come: this is not an ordinary ski film. In fact, it’s not even really a ski film. It’s an environmental advocacy movie disguised as a ski film.

All.I.Can sent the ski world, and the world world, into a frenzy. In 2012, it swept the Powder Awards, the highest honor for ski movies. The editing, cinematography, and themes were unprecedented in skiing. But it was the visceral audience reaction that indicated the film was going to be remembered in the ski conscious for a long time to come. A decade-plus since its debut, the film is still influencing the way we tell stories and how ski films are made. (You can watch the complete film here.)

“When I first saw All.I.Can at the world premiere in the Whistler Convention Center, I remember thinking, ‘Can they do that?’ As in, all the moving shots from gimbals to camera dollies,” says John Stifter, who became editor of Powder magazine in 2012.  “The cinematography and editing appeared in a way that felt so radically new for the ski film genre. Combine that with the charging crew of mostly Canadian skiers and tribal music, and it blew all of us at Powder away.”

As creative as the cinematography was—one of my favorite scenes is a group of skiers charging through a forest, as the forest changes seasons—it was the message powering the film that felt most radical of all. At times the message is overt — Aspen’s VP of Sustainability has more airtime than any other individual. But the theme is also present in more subtle ways throughout the film, where skiing is truly a metaphor for the climate change problem. The daunting line is the problem in front of us. The solution is the creativity and innovation required to solve complex problems and ski something in a way that’s never been done before. The will to do all we can. 

As a whole, the movie was a much-needed countercultural departure from the ski movie formula at the time. 

“It was a time where the tried-and-true ski film formula of ‘3, 2, 1, dropping’ travel here, helicopter drop and shred there, high-five wherever needed a disruption,” says Stifter. “All.I.Can was definitely that.” 

And yet, the skiing still rips. Kye Petersen won Full Throttle and Best Natural Air at the Powder Awards that year for his role, and J.P. Auclair won best POV. It was Auclair’s segment that was, undoubtedly, the most influential of all.

(Photo: Courtesy of Sherpas Cinemas)

Said Stifter, “That’s the only time a non-skier on an airplane asked me what I did for a living and in response to my answer said, ‘So do you ski in the streets like that one guy did on the Today Show?!’

What’s incredible is that the segment is a climate change scene gone viral. The snow is gone. It’s gray. The skiing at the hill is over. The message is to get creative with the resources in front of you. In this case, it was some slush and wet pavement that trends downhill through a neighborhood in Trail, British Columbia. 

JP’s All.I.Can scene checked all the boxes—creative, technical, and fast skiing with JP’s iconic style, beautiful cinematography, and a fun concept all presented in a way that any viewer could appreciate,” says Josh Berman, the director of Level 1 Productions. “It showcased street skiing in a vision that had not yet been realized by anyone else and is as influential today as it was a decade ago.”

J.P. Auclair in All.I.Can.

That segment breathed life into a burgeoning, but still underground street skiing scene by showcasing the incredible creativity and style powering the subgenre. The segment also predated Candide Thovex’s “One of Those Days” series, the viral YouTube segments that mimicked a similar style—insanely creative POV, often on snowless lines where nobody really thought to ski before. 

“We never dreamed people would react like they did,” says Sherpas Cinema Cofounder Dave Mossop. “Somehow we had struck a chord, and oh man, it really resonated far and wide. It’s been humbling to see the influence All.I.Can has had on outdoor films and narratives around the world, and it’s a true honor to have contributed to the great river of artistic inspiration that flows between us all.”

So what’s changed in ten years? Everything. Nothing. The planet is still on fire. The ski film formula still persists. But there’s progress. More storytelling, women, and people of color are featured in ski films each year. And though there’s still a long way to go, the U.S. passed its first major climate legislation last year, and, with solar and wind energy now being cheaper than oil and gas, many believe the most apocalyptic predictions for the climate will be avoided. 

That the film came out in 2012 feels prescient. At the time, Greta Thunberg was 9. Climate change was not the zeitgeist it is now, politically or culturally. And since the film’s debut, skiers and ski media have become a lightning rod for climate activism. Mossop believes it was fateful, that the film was preordained in a way. 

“When I think about it now, I can’t figure out how the film came together so beautifully,” says Mossop. “We were in our early 30s and not nearly as organized as we are now, but the conditions, the segments, the edits, the music all just fell into place on the timeline, like our hands were being guided. And to be honest I believe that they were.”

It was a creative, artistic experience that Mossop believes isn’t replicable. 

“You can never design a hit,” says Mossop. “There’s always some special sparkles of magic in there, and without them, even the most perfect execution of a brilliant idea can fall flat. All you can do on this Earth is work as hard as humanly possible, apply all the lessons you’ve ever learned, and absolutely love the work you are doing.”