The History of Videography in Skiing: Candide Thovex Redefining Big Air

By: Max Singer & Will Chaikin

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  1. Blog Mission Statement

Turn of the decade (2000) to current day. In the recent decades ski trick videos have become increasingly popular on social media and universal platforms such as YouTube. The rise in new technology such as flip video, go prop, adobe photo shop, etc. have provided trick skiers/snowboarders with the opportunity to flaunt their big air tricks with the rest of the world. Candide Thovex–famous French skier and videographer–has taken trick skiing and videography to the next level with his unique spin on film using raw footage amidst the implementation of special effects. The blog will cover the past 20 years of film in trick skiing with an emphasis on Thovex’s work in special effects- “Day in the life”/Audi Quattro commercials. 

  1. Abstract:

This blog will explore the evolution of film and videography technology within the context of skiing and trick ski content. Each individual blog post (unit) will discuss a new block of time within the landscape of film in ski. In the concluding component of the blog piece, our team will procure a personal reflection and in depth study into the life, work and influence of Candide Thovex. We hope you enjoy!

  1. GoPro (the dawn of videography in action skiing):
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Nick Woodman founded the American technology GoPro, Inc. after a surf trip to Australia with a group of buddies. Woodman and crew felt frustrated by the lack of tech allowing them to take up close action shots mid wave. Months later, Woodman and his team raised a just around $250,000 in capital and invented the first ever GoPro-inspired by the Australia trip of “going pro” since professionals at that time were the only ones with access to on-water high tech recording equipment. 

The GoPro’s debut in the early 2000’s was the pioneer of advanced ski tech in videography. Its versatility and accessibility allowed skiers of all skill ranges to utilize its various functions. I remember getting my first GoPro as a Hanukkah gift in the around 2010 prior to a ski trip to Park City, Utah. I was able to record my runs POV on the slopes and download the footage into IMovie on my laptop to create videos, films and other ski content to be shared with friends and family. At the same time, the GoPro was being used at the highest level in collecting videos, photos and other content from some of the world’s greatest skiers and snowboarders such as Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn at the X-Games and Winter Olympics. 

It is amazing to consider how much the GoPro revolutionized video in skiing. Prior to its launch, great footage was only available to the top professional skiers. Even then, the footage was from a distance and failed to capture the essence of POV skiing. The GoPro has continued to outperform all other types of skiing film technology. Since its founding 19 years ago, Woodman and his team have introduced over 25 different variations of the GoPro starting with the 35mm and now with the Hero 9. Its sustained popularity and development is a testament to how much its changed video in skiing. Additionally, the GoPro was just a window into how advanced film and videography in skiing could become, inspiring videographers and trick skiers to take their content to the next level to be shared with fans and viewers universally. 

4. Mid-2000’s and the Rise of YouTube:

In early 2005, three ex Pay-Pal employees registered the company, YouTube, with the sole intention to give ordinary people the means to share and enjoy their home videos. They officially launched the website on December 15th, 2005, gaining roughly 2 million views per day. In the months that followed, the website grew more and more traction; eventually earning 100 million views per day, just a year after its launched. 

The popularity of YouTube attracted more and more people to start filming and publishing their own videos. YouTube soon became a hub for not just home videos but for any type of entertainment, from comedy sketches to short films and notably, sports videos.

Skiing and snowboarding videos gained popularity early into YouTube’s career. With the emergence of GoPro, cameras were now made specifically for action sports. People who had filmed their own ski expeditions, big or small, now had the ability to upload their footage for anyone to see. GoPro’s YouTube channel helped to create traction for skiing videos. The channel now boasts over 10.4 million subscribers.

YouTube has allowed skiers and snowboarders a platform to appreciate the sport they love. Skiing videos on YouTube range from footage of rooftop skiing in France to tutorials on how to properly get off a ski lift. 

Going hand-in-hand with the GoPro, YouTube allowed a revolutionary platform to share videos from this revolutionary camera. All of a sudden action sports are able to viewed on such a broad scale by the simple click of a button.

5. The 2010s and the Emergence of Social Media:

The prevalence of social media cannot be understated in its importance to society today. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and any other platform have changed the way people communicate in their everyday lives. 

Instagram’s Ability to share videos and photos from the click of a button has led to an increase in skiing’s online presence. More than ever, people are able to see other people’s ski trips, adventures, and expeditions simply through online applications. Instagram pages such as @Newschoolers and @Snowboardermag boast over 334,000 followers and 1.7 million followers respectively. Newschoolers provides a home for the skiing community by sharing videos of skiiers and snowboarders around the world. Their tricks, videos, and photos can be shared to all of their followers instantly. Similarly, Snowboarder Mag shares videos and upcoming events that snowboarders and skiiers alike might enjoy. 

Facebook allows for forums and chatrooms for anything skiing. A Facebook group called, “Elite Skiing” is a public forum with over 60,000 members. Group followers can share videos, pictures, articles or any other information regarding snow sports.

According to Adventure Journal, social media followings can now “make or break a skier’s career” While skiers can control what is posted, having complete power over their creative influence, the constant need to produce content can be a burden to skiers. Many of their talents lie in skiing and snowboarding rather than promoting themselves through social media. Nevertheless, social media has allowed for a broader impact for ski sports, ultimately benefiting the sports by creating a larger audience.  

6. The 2020’s and the Future of Videography in Skiing

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As technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, it seems as though the next best thing is consistently here. When the GoPro was invented, a revolutionary new way to videotape skiing came with it. However, in today’s society, technology improves itself so rapidly that it gives way for better and more innovative cameras. An example is the drone. While drones are not NEARLY as commercially available as other cameras, its ability to shoot videos at such unique and beautiful angles displays the constant improvement of videography in snow sports.  

Drones, known as unmanned aerial vehicles can come with cameras attached—providing new and exciting angles for skiing and snowboarding adventures.  The drone can follow a skier by remote so no videographer is necessary. In addition to its videographic benefits, drones can also help with skiing transport. Amazon’s recent drone patent aims to alter the way ski lifts operate. A drone will come to a skier’s location and use a rope to pull the skier up a mountain. The drones would allow for advanced skiers to reach areas that a ski lift cannot normally go.

From GoPros to drones to social media, the future of skiing remains bright as advances in technology seem to do nothing but benefit the beautiful snow sports that so many people love.

7. Red Bull Series: Kings and Queens of Corbet’s

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Source: Pexels.

The advancements in ski videography: better technology, social media, streaming services and others have paved the way for fun, sponsored events such as The Red Bull Snow Series. One event in particular, the Kings and Queens of Corbet’s, is an annual event hosted at the famous shoot Corbet’s Couloir at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Red Bull event features the top men and women in trick skiing and big air jumping into the pit that is Corbet’s Couloir. The event is streamed on Youtube and a live channel via Red Bull so that viewers unable to attend/receive an invite to go in person, are able to tune in. There are several camera angles: a broadcasting angle with general overview cameras, and GoPro’s attached to the skiers providing post run content. Without these advances in camera functionality, live streaming and the emergence of social media and internet, events like these wouldn’t be able to prosper at the level in which they do. The events are recorded and later posted on Youtube for all people universally to watch, free of charge. Events such as the Kings and Queen of Corbet’s are incredibly influential for upcoming generations of trick skiers. Youth and rising Pros can watch these videos, without being there live, and become inspired to pursue the same tricks and compete in the same events as their role models.  

8. Who is Candide Thovex? The biggest name in skiing you’ve never heard

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Candide Thovex, French skier, filmmaker and entrepreneur, came to the scene of professional skiing at the turn of the decade. He signed a sponsorship with Quiksilver and immediately rose to fame in the ski world, winning awards at competitions like the Winter X-Games and Gravity Games. In 2000, Thovex landed a D-Spin 720 at Chad’s Gap, an 120-foot gully gap connecting the Alta and Snowbird mountains. Thovex was an immediate sensation in the realm of trick skiing and big air. Given his background and passion for filmmaking and entrepreneurship, the award, titles and victories were simply not enough. Over the past decade, Thovex has released several short ski films on Youtube. His debut “Few Words” accompanied by his collaborations with Audi “One of Those Days” redefined what was imaginable and possible in film and trick skiing. In these projects, Candide brilliantly displays his ability to integrate the highest level of trick skiing and special effects. The projects were groundbreaking in the world of trick skiing, film and business. From the viewer’s experience, it’s a challenge at times to determine what is real and what is a product of special effects. The footage, editing and breath taking big air tricks culminate in an unparalleled four to five minute masterpiece. The series of Audi sponsored clips “One of Those Days” simulate an around the world fantasy ski experience for viewers. Thovex is shown skiing the Pacific ocean waves, great wall of china, tropical rain forest and middle eastern desserts. The art perfectly intertwines what is real and what is up to one’s imagination. Thovex’s work and artistry on these award winning short films shattered all limits surrounding skiing and film. 

9. Bibliography:

“Amazon’s Drone Will Pull You up a Mountain, Replacing Ski Lifts.” DroneDJ, 24 Aug. 2020, dronedj.com/2020/08/24/amazons-drone-will-pull-you-up-a-mountain-replacing-ski-lifts.

Barronian, Abbie. “When Social Media Runs the Game, Here’s How Skiers Make It Work.” Adventure Journal, 11 Jan. 2018, www.adventure-journal.com/2018/01/social-media-runs-game-heres-skiers-make-work/. 

Blystone, Dan. “The Story of Instagram: The Rise of the # 1 Photo-Sharing Application.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 29 Aug. 2020, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/102615/story-instagram-rise-1-photo0sharing-app.asp. 

Davies, John Clary. “Superpark Revisited: a History of the Legendary Proving Ground.” Powder Magazine, Powder Magazine, 31 July 2012, www.powder.com/stories/a-brief-history-of-superpark/.

Einstein, Mara. Black Ops Advertising: Native Ads, Content Marketing, and the Covert World of the Digital Sell. New York City, NY, OR Books, 2016. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv62hdmb. Accessed 8 May 2021.

Faction Skis, “Candide Thovex.” Faction Skis, factionskis.com/blogs/athletes/candide-thovex. 

Investopedia, 29 Aug. 2020, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/102615/story-instagram-rise-1-photo0sharing-app.asp. 

Kennedy-Herbert, Jack. “Content Marketing – How Candide Thovex has taken himself to the mainstream”Pitch Marketing Group. 25 February 2016. 

Lev-Ram, Michal. “What’s next for GoPro? Content”. Fortune, (May 20, 2014).

Mac, Ryan. “Five Startup Lessons From GoPro Founder And Billionaire Nick Woodman”. March 13, 2013.

Mather, Victor. “What Is Big Air? It’s the Olympics’ Newest Snowboard Event”. New York Times,  (2018-08-24).

McFadden, Christopher. “YouTube’s History and Its Impact on the Internet.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 3 July 2020, interestingengineering.com/youtubes-history-and-its-impact-on-the-internet. 

Newgenerationski. “How To Get On and Off a Chair Lift in 5 Steps // Learn to Ski.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Feb. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUwmiY9K5es. 

Pierson, Michele. Special Effects: Still in Search of Wonder.  New York City, NY, Columbia University Press, 2002. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/pier12562. Accessed 8 May 2021.

Redbull. “Rooftop Skiing in France | Good Morning By Richard Permin.” YouTube, YouTube, 11 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtZVFUvn3_U.

Schrader, Paul, and Robert Brink. “Camera Movement: Part IV.” Film Comment, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 56–61. New York City, NY, Film Society of Lincoln Center, 2015. JSTOR,

Simson, Helen. “Alpine Skiing.” Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation: Causes and Prevention – A Canadian Study, edited by CHARLES H. TATOR, University of Toronto Press, 2008, pp. 318–332. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442687561.27. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021. 

SnowBrains (22 March 2016). “VIDEO: Candide Thovex Crushing the Park at the B&E Comp”. SnowBrains. Retrieved 4 April 2019.

Tator, Charles H., editor. Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation: Causes and Prevention – A Canadian Study. Toronto, CA.,University of Toronto Press, 2008. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442687561. Accessed 8 May 2021.

Title: CANDIDE THOVEX || FEW WORDS, Weblink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpi2fc5vfNs

Title: Candide Thovex- quattro 2, Weblink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHrwcQQ38bA

Quiksilver. “CANDIDE THOVEX || FEW WORDS.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 Mar. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpi2fc5vfNs. 

XGames, “Candide Thovex’s Official X Games Athlete Biography.” X Games, www.xgames.com/athletes/3013725/candide-thovex. 

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