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Review: Stoke the Fire

Stoke the fire poster

Stoke: used to describe something that is really cool or amazing, taken from the term “stoked” which means “looking forward to.”

If you don’t ski, you, friend, have found yourself in the wrong place; this here little review is about to drip and drool with adoration for this pasttime! Even if you’ve never tried it, watching this movie might just make you want to start (though we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought we could come close to the skill level of these ski masters). 

The film takes us across North America from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, through Montana and the north Cascades, up through the Selkirks and on to Alaska. Here the skiers find some of the worlds steepest and most dangerous peaks. 

In an epic moment, home-town-heroes Christina Lustenberger and Ian McIntosh pulled off the first ascent of Mt Nelson in BC’s Selkirks range. The terrain is so steep, the skiers use rock climbing gear several times to repel down the rocky face. 

One of the most dynamic characters is 14-year-old Kai Jones. At his home resort, Jackson Hole, he does a back flip off a 20-foot cliff to screams of approval from fans going by on the chairlift. At the bottom, the camera catches a glimpse of Jones’ bloodied face, having smashed his nose in to his knee on the landing. Still, you can hear him proudly saying, “best day of my life.”

My only minor criticism of the film is that it breezes over an important incident that happened in the ski community last year. Christina Lustenberger, Ian McIntosh, and  Nick McNutt were touring deep in the backcountry when McNutt got caught in an avalanche. Even though he had been wearing a beacon, which is a life saving device in the backcountry, it somehow clicked off when he needed it most. Peips, the beacon manufacturer, had been receiving complaints for years, but the company had denied the issue. When public outcry followed this pro athlete nearly dying, the company finally issued a recall. 

While it is wonderful and important for movies like this to exist to continually push the boundaries of what is possible, it is equally important to acknowledge the extreme risks that come with this awe-inspiring sport.