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Maggie Voisin’s seasonal project 'Swiftcurrent'
NEWS

Inside the Making of “Swiftcurrent” with Maggie Voisin

Sep 242020

In the world of professional freeskiing, most athletes tend to choose a specialty on which to focus all their energy. They set their sights on becoming the world’s most competitive riders in one of the major disciplines like Big Air, Halfpipe or Slopestyle. Only a select few cross over between categories, and even fewer step outside the contest arena to test their skills in the open backcountry.    

But then again, Maggie Voisin has never cared about such artificial divisions. Or staying in a pre-defined lane, for that matter.

Voisin has followed her own path since the age of two, when her parents put her on a pair of skis at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. Since then, the two-time Olympian has stacked medals across disciplines – seven X Games medals and counting – as one of the sport’s true all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). And through it all, the 21-year-old has held on to her love for the boundless possibilities of riding unexplored, natural terrain.

SOLO VIDEO CHALLENGES BOUNDARIES

 

Now Voisin gets to share her unique all-terrain approach with global audiences in her first solo video project, “Swiftcurrent”. Directed by Kyle Decker and produced by Tom Yaps, the freshly released video follows Voisin over the course of the past two winters. True to the Team USA freeskier’s ‘ride everything’ approach, the action-packed edit includes highlights from her breakout competitive season next to park footage and never-been-done tricks in the backcountry.

 

“I think people will be surprised to see that most of the skiing is not done sliding rails and hitting massive jumps. That aspect of my skiing is only one piece of what I want to do in my career,” said Voisin about the project. “I grew up skiing in the mountains of Montana with my father, Truby Voisin. The mountains and backcountry are another part of skiing that I am truly passionate about and I wanted to share that passion with other people.”

 

Viewers are in for a special experience: Voisin is the only woman in skiing releasing an edit with park, competition, and backcountry footage this year and one of the few to ever combine all disciplines while competing. With this in mind, “Swiftcurrent” also marks a big step for women in freeski. “I knew that a progression of my park tricks in the backcountry would bring another female competitive skier into a more male skier-dominated field of filmmaking,” said Voisin.  

 

But better see “Swiftcurrent” for yourself. Watch the 4:39-minute feature now, set to the song “Kyoto” performed by LA-based Indie singer and songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. Also keep reading for an exclusive glimpse into Voisin’s creative process behind the making of this milestone project.

A PERSONAL MILESTONE

 

As one of the most competitive freeskiers on the circuit, Voisin runs on a busy schedule. So carving out time to film a video project away from constant practice, not to mention X Games on two continents and the FIS World Cup series, proved difficult. But she also made it a priority as a personal milestone.  

 

Congrats on the release of Swiftcurrent, Maggie. What inspired the name of the video?

Thank you so much! It’s been such an exciting process and I’m so thrilled to finally release it to the world. The name was really challenging for me to come up with honestly. I think I initially put too much thought into it and I eventually realized it didn’t have to be necessarily significant to the project.

 

But it has a personal significance, right?

I was writing down all sorts of ideas and names and then I started to think about all the places my Dad has taken me skiing in the backcountry or hiking in the summer around Northwest Montana. I pulled out a map of my Dad’s one day and started writing down peaks and passes I had hiked or skied. The name ‘Swiftcurrent’ just stuck with me and not only because it’s an absolutely beautiful Pass in Glacier National Park.

 

The backcountry shots really stand out in the film. Is that style of riding something you want to explore more?

Overall, this film project has sincerely opened my eyes to the world of backcountry skiing. I have so much more to learn in the backcountry and I’m excited to keep challenging myself in new ways and finding out what the future has in store for me.

 

HARSH REALITY CHECK

 

Caught in crisp high definition video, the mountains form a stunning backdrop for Voisin’s technical freeski tricks. “Swiftcurrent” features shots out in the backcountry across Utah, Montana, and British Columbia replete with deep powder runs and natural jumps, plus the occasional well-placed kicker. But in reality, taking innovative moves from perfectly sculpted park terrain into uncharted wilderness is easier said than done, as Voisin learned at the outset in February 2019.

 

You went out into the backcountry with helicopters and snowmobiles to hunt for new spots, sometimes with full-on snow pummeling down. What’s it like throwing down freeski tricks under these conditions?

This project took me two ski seasons to film and my first backcountry trip to Cooke City in Montana was the first time I had tried any park tricks in a backcountry setting. To say the least, I absolutely worked myself and I tomahawked on every single trick.

 

That must have been daunting, to say the least.

I walked away feeling quite defeated, but eager to give it another go the next opportunity I had. What made me nervous most of all was that I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities in the backcountry with my busy contest season. But thankfully, the next trip I had filming in the mountains of Utah was a different outcome than my first trip to Montana.

 

The makes all look quite effortless in the video, but was there a move you battled extra hard for?

The trick that was the biggest battle to land was the double backflip. It took me six consecutive tries, but I was so determined to get it to my feet. Then my personal favorite trick was probably the switch nine I did on that same backcountry trip in Utah.

 

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

 

The initial learning curve in the backcountry may have been overwhelming, but more serious complications loomed. Only a few weeks into the filming process, doctors diagnosed a torn ACL that required surgery and intense rehab. The injury not only put the video project on an indefinite hold, but also jeopardized Voisin’s upcoming competitive season. Nevertheless, she not only rebounded from the injury in record time but put the most successful competitive season of her young career in the books.

 

You overcame serious adversity and ended your season on a high note with Slopestyle gold and Big Air silver at X Games Norway in March. What is your proudest achievement of this season?

That is a really tough question for me because this entire season really showed me how hard work and dedication truly pays off and I’m deeply grateful for every single moment and achievement I had.

 

With the injury you had extremely limited time to get back in time for the season, right?

I received my second ACL surgery on my left knee in April of 2019 and worked extremely hard to get back in time for the 2020 contest season. At seven months I was skiing again and at nine months I podiumed at my first event back at the X Games in Aspen. The whole contest season was honestly above and beyond what I had imagined for myself. With such a quick turnaround from the ACL surgery, I still had the most successful contest season of my entire career while finishing filming for my ski edit.

 

What a whirlwind! It’s probably hard to pick favorites, then?

Every single podium and achievement really had its own significance to me personally. I will never forget what I learned mentally, physically, and emotionally from the process of it all. 

 

EXPLORING THE OPEN BACKCOUNTRY

 

Speaking of an unforgettable season, Voisin brought home three X Games medals in 2020, including Slopestyle gold and Big Air silver at X Games Norway, and also claimed bronze at the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain. In May 2020, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team named her Freeskiing Athlete of the Year for her spectacular season. She also still went hard on her backcountry filming missions.

 

What are the different challenges between going out and finding spots in the backcountry and putting down a contest run at a big event?

The difference between the two are night and day. I know what it takes to put down a contest run. When you show up to a contest, the course is already built. You have a certain amount of days and hours to perfect your run, and when it’s go time, you’re hopefully mentally and physically prepared.

 

Out in the backcountry none of that exists, so you’re pretty much on your own?

First, there is the adventure of finding spots in the backcountry which is very new to me. You’ve also got the challenge of finding your zone. But not only that, you have to really analyze your lines or figure out where and how you can build a jump.

 

That sounds really involving and like it would take a lot of prep work.

It’s something that hasn’t come easy to me and a huge part of my success while on backcountry trips are the people with experience who I have had the privilege of being with.

 

Contests versus backcountry – do you prefer one over the other?

I love them both equally but they each give me a different a kind of rush and have their own fun unique challenges. Competing though is where my true passions of freeskiing sparked so it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

 

“Swiftcurrent” definitely shows both sides of the coin. Now that the video is live, are you happy with how it came out?

My one main goal was to make an edit that I could be truly proud of. It was never about putting out the most insane female ski edit, doing the craziest trick, or skiing the gnarliest line. I wanted this film to be about me pushing myself out of my usual park skiing element and comfort zones in a whole different way than I am used to.

 

That is exactly what I was able to achieve, and I realized in the end that it’s a great privilege that, as athletes, we get to create content that we are passionate about. It’s gratifying to think that something I’ve created will hopefully spark positive emotions and inspiration into whoever stumbles upon my project.

 

Congrats again on the video and thanks for the interview, Maggie. 

 

Watch the new “Swiftcurrent” video supported by Monster Energy, Spyder, K2, and Land Rover, live now on YouTube.

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