Weekend Warm-Up: What Is Thrawn?

Did you know that “thrawn” is the ability to make the most of whatever you’ve got?

Did you know that Beira, the Queen of Winter, is the mother of all Scottish gods and goddesses?

You’ve had to pause for reflection twice within the first 10 seconds of the film if, like me, you didn’t.

Don’t expect that effect to go away. Lesley McKenna and Lauren MacCallum may not be the Queens of Winter — but they’re pro snowboarders and they’ve got a lot to say. Contemplative narration dovetails here with an ardent style of riding that’s hard to find on piste.

Would you ride that? Yeah, me neither — but then again, I don’t have thrawn.

Stubborn energy

“Stubborn is definitely part of it,” MacCallum says. “A transformative energy, a powerful energy, aye — very needed in these times. The struggle — the thrawness.”

This Patagonia joint is all about the athletes’ deep-rooted backgrounds and contagious personalities. You don’t have to watch much of it to get a strong infusion of both qualities — but you should, because they’re both colorful and compelling.

As much as Thrawn is the story of two athletes, it’s also the story of their town. Aviemore, Scotland is situated in Cairngorms National Park, and it’s a focal point of the country’s ski scene. McKenna knows it well — it’s where her father worked as the first professional ski patroller in the United Kingdom.

Don’t miss wipeouts, sketch moments, and highlights from the Olympian’s long career in the bindings. And hang on for a statement about the future of snow sports in Scotland. MacCallum delivers a snarling, steadfast, aspirational message on the climate change reshaping the country’s famous highlands.

Noting statistics on snowfall decline, she says, “I’m sick and tired of complaining about it in the pub, basically. It brings a sense of unease. We’re gonna have to roll up our sleeves and do it for our goddamn selves.”

Whether or not you lace your boots and cinch your bindings with thrawn each day, you’ve probably felt its call. Watch this short docu to get a booster shot of the mojo that makes these Scottish snowhounds tick.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.