Hemsedal Part 1
Hemsedal Part 1
Absinthe Films Up the Ante
Everyone was given a glass of the local mushroom tea, effectively expanding our minds and the parameters of what was attainable in the next realm
It’s hard to believe now, but Absinthe Films were once a small, underdog outfit. Through knowing a few riders and a sheer passion for filmmaking, Patrick ‘Brusti’ Armbruster and his buddy Justin Hostynek managed to get two low budget movies off the ground which, with their fresh tunes and innovative camerawork, shook up the video market. Their third film, Vivid, sent Absinthe into the major league… and it was largely down to one special park kicker.
At the end of the 2002 season, the crew rolled into an obscure Norwegian resort called Hemsedal. “Part of the mission was to film a commercial for Burton,” recalls photographer Scott Sullivan. “And there was an amazing group of riders present: names like Gigi Rüf, Romain DeMarchi, JP Solberg, Tristan Picot, DCP, Terje and Mads Jonsson.” With the entire resort at their disposal, Burton’s ambitious team manager Rene Hansen had arranged for two giant jumps to be built – a lofty hip, which would be mostly dominated by Romain DeMarchi (and which ended up on the cover of Vivid) and a straight cheese wedge bigger than any man-made jump seen before. Miles from civilisation, and sleeping in mountain huts, it all made for an intensely focused atmosphere.
“The night we arrived we were all invited to a ceremony of sorts,” says Sullivan. “Everyone was given a glass of the local mushroom tea, effectively expanding our minds to the true definition of reality – and the parameters of what was attainable in the next realm.”
With the mammoth kicker for a stage, the riders certainly succeeded in breaking new ground during a memorable session that lasted the best part of a week. It was also documented on cinefilm like never before. Thanks to Mads Jonsson’s uncle – a part time helicopter enthusiast – filmer Justin Hostynek was lowered beneath a chopper and flown alongside the riders as they bombed down the massive run-in, pulling up as they launched into thin air. His tracking shots provided some of the most famous snowboarding footage of all time – particularly the climax of Romain DeMarchi’s section (set to Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’) and Tristan Picot’s backside 180s. This 19-year-old French rider floated effortlessly over the 30m plus deck in a perfect marriage of airtime and style. Sadly, it was to be the defining image of his career, as was tragically killed in an avalanche the following season.
“One of the most surreal aspects of the sessions was the local legend named Tommen,” recalls Scott Sullivan, “a surreal being full of stories and mysticism. Tommen would sit atop the run-in, shoulder to shoulder with the riders, chiming away upon his magical flute. casting a mystical melody that we later all agreed had cast an enchanted spell of protection over the week. It seemed that maybe the tea we’d drunk at the beginning was still working its magic.”
Whether it was down to Tommen, the mushrooms or plain old passion, Absinthe’s visit raised the bar for snowboarding and turned an obscure Scandinavian resort into a freestyle mecca.