Siberia (1996)

Siberia - Greg Stump

‘Siberia’ is the unwanted stepchild of the Greg Stump film library, a film so unloved, apparently, as to be all but unavailable on the open market.

And it's easy to understand why it's been locked in the basement: as a ski film, ‘Siberia’ is a miserable failure...if the goal of a ski film is to pump up an audience and send them stampeding toward the hills in search of fresh powder.

On the other hand, Stump himself has called ‘Siberia’ his best film, and when a filmmaker as gifted as Stump (who gave us the legendary Blizzard of Aahhh's) makes such a claim, it's worth looking into.

The story begins with a simple plan: it's 1996, post-Soviet Union break-up, and capitalism is sprouting in Russia. Stump, pro skier Scott Schmidt, pro snowboarder Craig Kelly, and film crew travel to Siberia to promote a (very!) newly-hatched heliskiing operation in the massive Badzal mountains.

The offer sounds too good to be true: a bounty of first descents in a vast, untouched wilderness, a future heliskiing goldmine to rival Alaka. Things go awry quickly, as you'd expect. How safe exactly is a Russian military helicopter—and how did this Russian family of hunting and fishing guides end up with one?

How angry, exactly, is Siberia's avalanche danger? (spoiler: perhaps as angry as anyplace on Earth.) Confrontations with mortality abound in 'Siberia', and for that reason it's just about the opposite of stoke. As events unfold, Stump questions his own role in courting danger—and he doesn't like the answer.

It's a hard film, but a good one. And with that, I'll say no more.

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