(Photo by Nic Alegre)
Teton Gravity Research, often shortened to TGR, is an action-sport focused media production company that aims to share the ever evolving history and culture of sports like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and more. Founded in 1995 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, TGR was born when four people, Steve Jones, Todd Jones, Dirk Collins and Corey Gavitt, pooled their money together and purchased their first set of camera equipment with the mission to document the development of action sports. Naturally, they decided to name their group after the nearby mountain range that inspired their own action sports: the Teton Range.
Soon, the group became instrumental in fueling the world of action sports in mountain towns across the Western U.S. Over 25 years later, one of the only things that’s changed with TGR is their scope. After years of successful film releases (57, at the time this was written), TGR has been able to sign multiple athletes to help support the creation of their films and the development of action sports.
Logically, it was only a matter of time before TGR films and their producers landed in Bend. After all, a mountain town with a rich culture of winter and summer sports like ours has everything that TGR needed: professional athletes, local movie venues like the Tower Theater and plenty of people who love to watch ski, snowboard, biking and surfing films.
With release after release, TGR has become a popular name for action-sport enthusiasts in Bend. The production company has worked multiple athletes who call Bend home, and has filmed plenty of scenes in our Cascade Mountains.
One of TGR’s newer athletes that they’ve worked with is Amy David, an accomplished skier from Pinedale, Wyoming. Amy has been competing in (and winning) skiing competitions since she was young, recalling that her family had always had a love of winter sports. “My mom’s side of the family is very focused on ski racing and my dad’s side of the family homesteaded outside of Pinedale in the early 1900’s using handmade skis and horses to get around in the winter. Back then, they had some of the first snowmobiles as a means to deliver mail,” Amy said. “I learned to ski around the time I started walking.”
After competing around the world and getting a sponsorship from Polaris Snowmobiles, Amy was featured in TGR’s most recent film, Magic Hour, an annual film that showcases a collection of backcountry skiing highlights.
“I was part of the Montana segment in Magic Hour which showcased snowmobile-accessed skiing. I got to team up with two other skiers, Parkin Costain and Jake Hopfinger, who are incredibly talented and solid backcountry partners,” Amy said. “It really takes a strong team to create the magic and beautiful images in the ever changing conditions of the mountains.”
While many filmmakers have the privilege of controlling the conditions around them, either with clever set-work or CGI, TGR’s filmmakers must create something beautiful in a place that is potentially deadly. “The process of filming in the mountains involves a lot of discussion around terrain options, snow safety, weather conditions and goals for each day,” said Amy.
If anyone knows what it’s like to film in these conditions, it would be veteran TGR athlete
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, a mountain biker and skier who eventually moved to Bend after spending his childhood growing up in both Oregon and Wyoming. This split upbringing gave Sage a deep appreciation for both the forests along the north Umpqua River and the Teton Mountains of Wyoming.
Sage was first featured in a TGR film back in 2001. Despite just appearing in “a couple of shots,” this was Sage’s foot in the door. “I needed to dedicate quite a lot of time and energy to filming the next year to make it into a film again,” Sage said. “After a couple solid years, TGR helped align some of the sponsors that I have now and I continue to be one of the main athletes in the films since then.”
On the experience of filming with TGR, Sage acknowledges that his level of experience makes him a bit of a veteran. “By having so much experience, there’s a natural fit for me to mentor and assist the next generations, helping them be comfortable and confident in the mountains,” Sage said. “My biggest message is the lesson of patience and of timing. It comes with recognizing the times when it’s right to go and the times when it’s not, which isn’t always easy, but by being patient and waiting until all systems and signs point to yes, you maximize the possibility of a positive outcome.”
In other words, Sage plays an instrumental role in developing a new generation of skiers by passing along his knowledge of the backcountry; from snow conditions, weather, temperature and more, there are so many factors that must align to safely enjoy the backcountry and create the amazing films that TGR makes.
By signing athletes, collaborating with one another, assisting with sponsorships and spreading hype around these sports, TGR has cemented themselves as a force for positive development in the world of action sports. Catch the trailer for their upcoming short film in a regional series of films, In Pursuit of Soul 2: Midwest Independence, on their Youtube channel. The second installment in a series that focuses on ski and snowboard culture across the US, this film sheds light on the strong cultural, historical and family dynamics that tie Midwesterners to their local ski hills. The entire film became available October 25 on the TGR website.