ARMY: ALEX ARMSTRONG’S
PERPETUAL POWDER CHASE
By Juliette Recompsat
In the life of an aspiring freeskier, there are as many stress-filled nights as there are powder-filled days. It’s an endless tug-of-war between following your passion and finding security; a game that’s rarely won. Filmmaker Daniel Thomson and skier Alex Armstrong chat with us about Daniel’s new film ARMY, what it takes to make skiing happen as a lifestyle, and why it’s worth it.
The first flakes are falling, the mountains have their makeup on and winter stoke is spreading fast. What is it about scraping windshields and pulling out musty mittens that gets us so pumped up? What makes us so anxious to feel the friendly weight of boots and skis underfoot?
For local freeskier Alex Armstrong, there are no questions – just one answer. Alex has built her world around skiing and doing whatever it takes to make the most of her time on the snow. It’s a path that’s often dreamed about, and often only within reach in a dream world.
Alex’s tenacious dedication inspired filmmaker Daniel Thomson to profile her in his Story of a Ski Tour series – tales of real people and real skiing. The film ARMY will be screened at Rockies Shred Fest in Banff on October 19, 2017. We caught up with Daniel and Alex to talk about the film and the story behind it.
Q + A
Juliette Recompsat/ How did you come to choose Alex as a subject for a Story of a Ski Tour film?
Daniel/ I first met Alex when I was producing a short film for Lake Louise Ski Resort featuring the amazing women on Ski Patrol. After that, we became fast friends and, as I got to know her, I realized what an amazing skier she was and, more importantly, what an amazing person she is.
To me, what stands out about Alex’s story is her passion for skiing and her ability to inspire those around her. Alex just loves skiing and loves being with people who love skiing. There is no ego and no attitude – just positivity and good times.
Alex is also an incredibly hard worker and busts her ass all summer so she can ski all winter. She’s chosen to chase the ski lifestyle and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make that happen. It’s not all roses and rainbows.
JR/ This film showcases a real-life, relatable side of life as a skier that we don’t often see in ski media. Why was it so important to you to share this side of the story?
Daniel/ It all comes back to the goal of this project: to tell aspirational, yet relatable stories of real people who love skiing. It’s hard to relate to superstar athletes skiing in exotic locations that most people don’t have the means or wherewithal to get to. It’s hard to feel empathy for people who offer insincere platitudes about struggling to ski when they are making a good living doing it. ARMY offers a portrait of a real person chasing the ski dream and it offers inspiration in overcoming the challenges that dream entails. Alex does this because she loves skiing, not because she wants to be famous.
Alex/ I think with media today, especially social media, it often shows everyone’s highlight moments. It shows a result and forgets about the hard work and journey that goes into creating that result. It’s important to know what goes into those moments, which is often hard work, sacrifice, and some luck.
JR/ Alex, in the film, you explain how you have traded stability for doing what you love. Is there anything you would like to add to this message for aspiring freeskiers?
Alex/ I would definitely categorize myself as an aspiring freeskier still. But other things that have stuck with me, other than working hard, is be nice and if you want something, ask for it! Most opportunities that have come my way in terms of jobs, sponsorships, and filming opportunities, I’ve gotten through friends and people recognizing me as a positive and nice person. But a very small percentage opportunities actually just fall into your lap like “ARMY” did. If you want something, I would say, ask for it and be professional! Make a ski resume, market yourself, and contact brands, photographers and companies you’d like to work with. Put yourself out there because the worst thing they can say is no!
JR/ Best day from the filming of ARMY?
Daniel/ The best day of filming for me was a day we didn’t film at all! Last March, we had planned to spend a day filming in the Lake Louise side country but it was one of those surprise powder days, so we left the camera equipment in the car and just skied powder all day! Judging by Alex’s smile in this picture – we definitely made the right choice!
Alex/ I got to ski a line in the Lake Louise backcountry that I’d never skied before. It’s called Skinny Couloir off the back of the Peak Extension. But since last year was so epic snow-wise, it filled in nicely and wasn’t so skinny. There was a bit of a rollover at the top of it that I was a bit nervous of triggering, but it stuck and skied amazing!
JR/ Where can we watch the film?
Daniel/ ARMY will have its premiere at Rockies Shred Fest to share the stoke with the local community. The film will also screen at iF3 in Montreal, as part of their All Girls program. It’s a great platform for Alex and her story.
JR/ When audiences walk away after seeing ARMY, what do you hope they’ll take away with them?
Daniel/ Although this is a ski story we want people to be inspired to follow their passions and find happiness – whatever that means to them. Bottom line – do what makes you happy.
Alex/ If you’re passionate about something, do what you can to pursue it. Life is too short to not be doing what makes you happy and feel alive.
WATCH THE FILM
Raised in the Rockies, Juliette Recompsat travelled to every continent before her roots drew her back to the mountains. Home is where the peaks are!