Weekend Warm-Up: Six Skiers and the People Who Inspired Them

Influences. They are one of the first things we bring up when we talk about artists and writers. Yet we often shove the concept aside when discussing adventure sports, preferring instead to focus on how current athletes push the envelope.

But do a little digging, and you discover that the athletes themselves are quite aware of their influences.

That’s the premise of Tracing Influence, Six Skiers and the People Who Inspired Them. It’s not your typical ski film, to say the least. Sure, there’s plenty of lovingly shot footage, gnarly moves, spraying snow, and huge drops.

skier blowing off a jump

No shortage of skill on display in Tracing Influence. Photo: Screenshot.

 

But at its heart, this is a film about relationships. That focus shines through as director/producer/editor Mike Douglas interviews high-level skiers about the people who influenced them the most.

The film is episodic, spending roughly 10 minutes on each of six athletes: Alexi Godbout, Mali Noyes, Robert Aaring, Emma Patterson, Gaetan Gaudissard, and Connor Ryan. As the film progresses, each athlete shares stories about the people who influenced them the most, both professionally and personally.

‘The wheel keeps turning’

Alexi Godbout grew up idolizing Philou Poirier, a pro skier doing backflips practically in Alexi’s backyard. Alexi was fascinated by Poirier’s graceful moves and was always looking to spot Poirier on the mountain.

“I remember I’d just see him on the lift. And I’d pinpoint him from 300 feet away and be like, ‘He’s back home!'”

Poirier, in turn, drew his influences from the snowboarders that surrounded him.

“I was pretty much the only skier around here that could do three-sixties and backflips, and I was hanging out only with snowboarders,” the Canadian freeskiing pioneer says in the film. “So, definitely snowboarders got the influence on me because I could see them do tricks. They kind of made me realize that there was [sic] more possibilities for skiing.”

mentor and skier

Philou Poirier (left) and Alexi Godbout (right). Photo: Screenshot

 

“The wheel keeps on turning,” Godbout says at the end of his segment. “I’m very grateful to be part of that wheel.”

‘Ultimately, I’m following her path’

But of course, it isn’t only professional idols that influence up-and-coming athletes. Mali Noyes spends her heartwarming segment detailing the influence her mother, Kathy Noyes, had on her life as a skier.

“When your kid comes to you graduating from college and wanting to be a ski bum and get a job as a waitress…my mom was so excited and supportive of me, and I can’t imagine that most parents are,” Mali Noyes exclaims with a certain amount of bemused wonder in her voice.

mother and daughter on the slopes

Mali Noyes and her mother share some time on the slopes, a tradition that goes back generations in their family. Photo: Screenshot

 

“My mom is more like my life mentor, and ultimately I’m following her path,” she continues.

And of course, the elder Noyes had a mentor of her own.

“I was strongly influenced by my uncle Mike, who took me skiing for the very first time,” Kathy Noyes says. “He literally strapped my feet to my mother’s old skis — no edges, just wooden skis — and I loved it.”

‘A deeper way’

And so it goes in Tracing Influence. Each skier has an influence, and each influence has an influence. It’s a touching reminder of how interconnected we are — something that can be easy to forget, especially when it comes to solo sports.

“It’s still a ski film, for sure, but I like to make films that make people think and feel in a bit of a different way or a deeper way,” Mike Douglas told Snow Industry Sports.

I think he pulled it off. How about you? Check it out below.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew's essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals. You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).