ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
For me, the “dog days” of Winter took place on the West Michigan slopes of Cannonsburg and the Grand Rapids Ski Club. My mother was a ski instructor and my father a ski enthusiast who was inspired and started skiing after watching Stein Eriksen perform his famous front lay out at Boyne Mountain in the early 1950’s. Both excellent skiers, my wonderful parents instilled in me a strong love for skiing at a very early age.
I was a film grad student at Boston University in the mid-80’s and independently produced a handful of successful promotional and educational films & videos throughout the 80's and 90’s mostly for youth serving non-profits and schools. As I ended up getting more involved in counseling and directing youth programs, I became further removed from video production.
Laid off from my school counselor position in 2009, I became very excited to get back into video production. While searching the net for info on “hot dog” skiing and the evolution of freestyle, I was first disappointed in not finding much then excited to think this might be a great opportunity to collect and present a story that celebrates and promotes the era and the huge impact it made on the sport. I had the great fortune to ski and learn from two freestyle legends, Wayne Wong and Floyd Wilkie as a young teen at Toni Sailer's Summer Ski Camp at Whistler, BC. I reached out to Wayne for an interview about his experience in the first professional freestyle contest at Waterville Valley in 1971. My goal was to produce a short documentary on that event. As Wayne and I talked, he quickly encouraged me to keep going with the interviews and expand my focus to tell the story of the start up of the sport and the revolution that freestyle become in the early 1970's. The door quickly opened to travel the country as time and money permitted and record over 30 hours of footage with some of the most influence skiers during the first era of freestyle.
Skiing has always personally represented adventure, play, and a sense of abounding joy. Those qualities, for me, defined Hot Dog skiing in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It truly was free style and creative expression where a series of linked recoveries and unpredictable “anything might happen next” runs broke convention and conformity and set the stage for one of the greatest shows that skiing has ever presented.
While freestyle has evolved and I admire and am amazed by today’s skiers, it was the spirit of the hot doggers that broke convention and opened up an expression and creativity on the hill that was truly free and definitely bursting with style.