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Matt Kinnaman

Yeah, I’ll Ski It For Sure

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The most powerful moments stay hidden, sometimes. It pays to uncover them if we can.

If you love skiing (and even if you don’t or just don’t know it yet), one of skiing’s great moments lies hidden 35 years after it happened. Let’s uncover it.

To do that, we need to review some legendary skiing lore and the pioneering ski film making of Greg Stump.

We need to go back to 1988 when one kinda underground film, The Blizzard of AAHHH’s, upended the world of ski movies, dominated until that point by the (great) Warren Miller and his dependable formula of humor, wholesome fun, and daring (for its era) skiing. Great stuff that stands the test of time, yes. But Stump’s stuff, well, it was different. Really different.

You see, Greg Stump brought disruptive ideas (and, as it turns out, disruptive people with attitude) into his films. He emerged on the scene as a rebel, blending soundtracks way outside the mainstream with an irreverent, bad-boy edge unknown to the ski films of that day.

Most importantly, though, Stump highlighted something brand new to skiing, something which came to define subsequent generations of the sport and still does: the concept of the extreme; the “whatever it takes” attitude required to conquer the steepest lines, in style never seen before. Stump innovated. And so did his skiers.

The Blizzard of AAHHH’s skiers, Scott Schmidt, Mike Hattrup, and Glen Plake, shook up the ski world in 1988, and the reverberations never stopped. When you watch this clip, notice that these guys are on skinny skis (205s, 207s, 210s?), they’re wearing rear-entry boots, and they’re skiing lines that still look impressive today but with equipment today’s skiers probably wouldn’t even challenge a bunny slope with. These dudes were for real. And, none of them wore helmets. (Well, except for when Plake wore a helmet cam, 30 years before the first GoPro.) Yep, they lived in a different day.

And now we get to the big, hidden moment. As The Blizzard of AAHHH’s unfolds in Chamonix, France, Schmidt, Plake, Hattrup, and their guide Murray Ball, decided to walk away from a particularly steep and challenging line. The guide, Murray, felt it would be best to come back to it later. But Schmidt, the premier steep skier of his day, was lured by the challenge and couldn’t walk away so easily.

And, really, here’s where I still find inspiration…it’s in this scene (and if you want to jump ahead, go to 2:20, but I encourage you to watch it all, despite the pre-HD film quality). Just when everybody was ready to walk away, Schmidt hesitated. He didn’t feel free to abandon the possibility, despite the dangers, the risks, and the unknowns.

“Scott, you wanna try to ski it?”

“Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.”

That’s it. That’s the moment of truth.

“Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.”

Scott Schmidt didn’t even know for sure what he just committed to, but he committed anyway. Everything changed right there, right when Schmidt committed to what others wanted to walk away from. Even Murray, the guide who first said to walk away, immediately changed his tune.

“It’s cool here, Murray, then?”


Right there on the spot, Schmidt’s leadership, confidence, and commitment influenced Hattrup, too.

“Mike, are you gonna go in?”


In skiing, but even more so in life, what a powerful sentiment: “Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.” To my mind, it stands as one of the greatest lines ever spoken in skiing, yes, and also for every mindset for every endeavor worth doing.

“Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.” Try it. Instantly, when you embrace that ethos, you empower yourself, and you empower those who hear you. Everybody grows in confidence, determination, and willingness to go for it.

“Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.”

No turning away. No turning back. Straight on. Straight in. “Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.” I’m reminded of the ancient scrolls, the Book of Hebrews, and the timeless line: “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

Here’s the thing Scott Schmidt illuminated in that one moment of decision and action: At critical moments, we need to drop into the steep line and not shrink back, even though the outcome is far from known, maybe far from safe, or in any way guaranteed. That’s when great things can happen. Not just for the leader willing to risk and take action, but for everybody else, too.

“Yeah, I’ll ski it for sure.”

Go and do likewise.

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