September 13, 2010

A Refreshing Look into the Lives of Three Athlete Superstars.

Tracing the Edge: a nine part series with surf legend Gerry Lopez, superhuman alpinist Colin Haley and ultrarunner Krissy Moehl.

Gerry Lopez - Photo by Ben Moon

A More Familiar Kind of Inspiration.

I remember one particular trip to the grocery store with my mother when I was a young whippersnapper of about 6, or 7.

We were turning the corner into the produce section and I was happily holding onto the side of the cart when there appeared a familiar face…one that I didn’t expect to see. It stopped me in my mid skip to my lou. She wasn’t a neighbor or a friend of my mother’s—she was my first grade teacher Mrs. Henry. She was standing there picking out a tomato.

I was shocked. In my mind this happy educator was never supposed to leave the school grounds…and now was out and about doing normal human things after hours. It might as well have been a giraffe who escaped the zoo and decided to buy a tomato.

In a child’s mind, your 1st grade teacher is someone who shuts down like a robot at the end of the school day and is put in the closet by the janitor only to be brought out the next day. They don’t have cars and buy groceries, let alone have real lives.

I feel like we can sometimes feel this way about our athlete heroes. Much of the media that we are exposed to portrays them participating in their sport without much background or story of their lives. Putting them on a pedestal of ultra human standards, we willingly allow a misconstrued image of their real lives to live in our imagination of what it would be like to be a superstar of athletic ability.

I’ll admit, I have gone to quite a few ski and snowboard flicks at the Abbey Theatre in Durango, Colorado, where it’s all about the biggest trick, the deepest powder, and the tallest peak with a helicopter ride to the top. People stand up from their seats, hootin’ and hollerin’ excitedly at the screen—getting stoked to ride.

Films like this can be called “ski porn,” and most of the time it’s harmless fun for the outdoor enthusiast. But who are these people, breaking their necks for this epic footage? These dedicated athletes must go home from the mountain some time, right?  Putting their pants on one leg at a time?

Do they pick out their own tomatoes?

The latest series from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith gives a look into the lives of three superstars in the outdoor world. Tracing the Edge is a nine part series with surf legend Gerry Lopez, superhuman alpinist Colin Haley, and ultrarunner Krissy Moehl.

We see into Gerry’s life as not a surfer, but as a dad connecting with his son. Colin talks about his passion as a climber, and through his calm resolve he admits that he too can be scared. And we learn about Krissy, dealing with struggle not in the form of racing 100 mile courses, but with the ups and downs of life.


This series is a refreshing look at three amazing athletes’ lives. The ups, the downs, the struggle, and a connection to the outdoor world that many of us share. The powerful storytelling that Fitz and Bryan bring to the table inspires me, not because it shows some epic footage of extreme sports, but rather because it allows us to relate to the people who inspire us to get outside.

Tracing the Edge takes athletes off the pedestal and allowing us to walk around the corner and see them in the produce section, picking out tomatoes.

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