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This New Ski Movie Tells the Story of the Ski Industry’s Underdogs—the Mom and Pop Ski Areas

TGR's "In Pursuit of Soul" shines a light on 12 fiercely independent ski resorts, and the skiers and riders who call them home.

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Teton Gravity Research’s newest ski movie “In Pursuit of Soul,” just dropped, and it’s a bit of a departure from the production company’s usual ski flicks. There’s no high-flying action or crazy cliff drops for one. And TGR’s home mountain, Jackson Hole, which usually plays a starring role in the company’s films, is noticeably absent.

Instead, this new short film produced by Drew Holt and directed by Jeremy Grant shines a light on a more humble side of our sport: The mom and pop ski hills across the country, and the skiers and riders who call these fiercely independent resorts home.

“The idea of independent mountain resorts has always been important to me,” says Holt, who grew up back East and learned to ski at N.H.’s Black Mountain, featured in the film. “I’ve always just gravitated towards the free-spirited, indy-style mountains. I love the culture and the vibe of those places. I just think they’re a really important part of the fabric of our industry.”

Watch: “In Pursuit of Soul” Trailer

And that free-spirited, indy vibe is what “In Pursuit of Soul” is all about. The film highlights 12 independently owned and operated ski areas in New England and the Northwest, delving into their rich histories, their contributions to ski culture, and their struggle to survive in the face of corporate-run mega resorts and increased homogenization of ski areas across the country.

“I don’t think of this film as a diss or mega callout of what the big conglomerates are doing,” says Holt. “But it does sound the alarm to remember that there is something important to an independent vibe and an independent culture, and we can’t lose sight of that. That’s hugely important.”

Related: There’s way more skiing at this Idaho resort than just powdery glades

To bring this project to the masses, TGR partnered with the Indy Pass, perhaps the staunchest supporter of independently owned and operated resorts across the country since its inception in 2018. Now in its third season, this affordable multi-resort season pass has grown to include 74 independent ski resorts across North America (plus four in Japan), including the 12 Eastern and Northwest areas featured in “In Pursuit of Soul.”

“The passion that goes into running these resorts is felt by everyone who takes the lift up and enjoys the ride down,” says Doug Fish, founder of the Indy Pass. “Big corporate ski resorts are pricing out large portions of skiers and snowboarders, making these more affordable mountains even more vital.”

Related: This unassuming Vermont ski area is the East’s new adventure mecca

The story (and plight) of the ski industry’s hidden gem resorts and underdogs is one that’s always well received, but it’s bound to hit even closer to home after two ski seasons plagued by a pandemic, which forced more skiers to stick closer to home and discover (or rediscover) the mom and pop hills in their backyard.

“As this film is coming out now, the energy and vibe is resonating more deeply than it would have prior to the pandemic,” says Holt. “I think people are in a different mindset to embrace this film now because of the experiences we’ve all gone through over the last year. We’re starting to realize what’s important.”

“One-hundred percent, this is a different film than what our audience has come to expect,” he continues, “but that’s very intentional.”

You won’t see the edgy action that most other TGR films focus on. In fact, there’s limited ski action in the film. Instead, “In Pursuit of Soul” zeros in on storytelling and the regular people who make these indy resorts what they are.

“The idea is that you don’t have to be an expert to come ski at these mountains,” says Holt. “You don’t have to feel the pressure of being good. It’s just about getting out there and doing it.”

It’s a refreshing break from traditional ski porn, where it’s all about getting out there—and getting rad.

“In Pursuit of Soul” is now available for free streaming on Teton Gravity Research TV, TGR’s streaming application, which can be found on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire, as well as right from your desktop. 

Resorts featured in TGR’s “In Pursuit of Soul”

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