The Final Season
The Final Season
“Sometimes we charge around the world looking at other places without knowing or wondering why, beyond the allure of discovering something new. When I couldn’t travel anymore, and I could barely walk more than a few blocks without triggering symptoms, it unleashed a whole other dimension for me.”
This year marks Jordan’s full return from his long and deliberate rehabilitation. Much has been written and documented about how he recovered; watch the videos of his daily walk therapy. It was his process of learning to really look at things close by. Nothing imaginary, cerebral, or huge. Almost like seeing the largeness in everything small, a process that lead to his reexamination of home, literally and metaphorically.
Slowing down is likely the greatest result from the misfortune of his being injured. He is quick to point out that on the grand scale, he’s been exceptionally lucky not to have sustained worse injuries during his career, and that he’s not coming back from anything life-threatening. But it has changed his perspective on many things. “We’ve talked about skiing.” Manley pauses. This is a nuanced conversation. When speaking about risk or career, or circumstances, the distinction between what art drives a person to do, and the desire to take on that undertaking for its own sake, is not crystal clear. “I’m not sure I would be the skier I am, or ski as much as I have, without cameras. Going forward from the concussion, I’m not sure I would have jumped back into skiing as soon as I did if it weren’t for the prospect of making the films again.” Art pushes him to do things he might not have otherwise experienced, or elevates the nature of a trip into an interaction with history, politics and social structure.
Picking up where he left off with A Skier’s Journey project, Manley set out to film the final three episodes: Iran, China and the Coast Range. Was he up for it? “Don’t get me wrong, I love being out in the mountains, but my relationship to risk is really different.” In terms of fitness, not surprising. But the skiing, the joy of being on skis. He shrugged. A simple fall could jeopardize everything.
The final line-up: Iran, China, Coast Range. From a very unlikely location to the one right underfoot. That in itself is a study in contrasts, probing the margins of skiing, which is what ASJ ultimately circles around. Skiing as the pursuit of a sensation, a community that understands what that means, explorations of landscape. No ski porn, no acts of outrageous courage or luck. The characters are not defined as athletes, they are humans on a quest, curious about the world and seeking the simplicity of being borne by snow.
This homegrown project, small in undertaking, ambitious in its desire to find meaning, reveals what we can learn from taking a step back and trying on a new perspective. Discovering what unites us, without words, without rhetoric, without judgment. After circling the globe, directed by longing, chance encounters and unpredictable sequences of events, Jordan Manley and friends have come full circle.
They are home.