Homecoming King

Kalispell native and freeskiing pioneer Tanner Hall is back home and unveiling his new film

By Dillon Tabish
Tanner Hall. Photo by Will Wissman Photography

“I’m just really ready to fall in love with skiing again,” Tanner Hall says, basking in the sunny comfort of his family’s home in Kalispell.

It’s not that he’s fallen out of love with the sport that he helped innovate, or that any passion has drained from one of the world’s greatest freeskiers.

It’s not that at all.

But the wild, epic ride that Hall has experienced over the last 18 years, departing his hometown of Kalispell without graduating high school to pioneer freestyle skiing on a global stage and win seven gold medals at the X Games, becoming one of the true rock stars of the sport and surviving in an industry that has evolved into a lineup of Olympic events and mainstream success — amid all of this and more it can be easy to get distracted and lose sight of the true source of inspiration.

That’s how Tanner Hall finds himself home, back where it all started, ready to hit the reset button and shred into a new chapter in life.

“At the end of the day, I ski. I’m a skier. That’s so cool to say. It’s not a bad thing,” he says, reflecting on his journey back home. “I got wrapped up and was focusing on things you don’t need to focus on. At the end of the day I worked hard for a lot of the opportunities that I’ve been given. Why let something take my energy away from something that brought me everything?”

Following his passion, Hall has stayed busy doing what he loves in recent years. And now he’s ready to share it with his hometown.

On Oct. 26, which is also his 33rd birthday, Hall will unveil his latest film, “Ring the Alarm,” which he stars in and produced over the last two years. The screening, which is open to all ages, is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Casey’s in Whitefish. He will also be at Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell on Oct. 22, from 1-3 p.m.

Smoking Aces Events is hosting the screening and proceeds will benefit Whitefish Freestyle Inc., the nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to young skiers and snowboarders on the Whitefish Mountain Resort freestyle team where Hall started as a talented 10-year-old.

The event will feature the new 30-minute film, which showcases Hall and several other talented skiers hitting spectacular lines in Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon and other epic sites. It was filmed over the last two years and Hall considers it a return to the origins of vintage ski films as well as hopefully an inspiration for young skiers.

“It’s about bringing fun back to skiing. You got to keep it fun,” he says.

The film is quintessential Hall. Riding his favorite Armada Magic Js — one of many popular mainstay skis from the company he co-founded 16 years ago — Hall showcases just how far he’s advanced in the high country, tackling peaks few could ride. He attacks monster drops with the freestyle skills of a slopestyle star but the detail-oriented acumen of the best backcountry skiers. His creative flair is still unmistakable and feels as original as when he first emerged on the bumps at Big Mountain.

“I’ve known Tanner since we were young kids,” says Billy Marcial, a teacher in Whitefish and founder of the Smoking Aces Tour, which has developed into one of the largest slopestyle tours for skiers and snowboarders in the Pacific Northwest. “To see him grow through skiing has been phenomenal.”

“He was a part of that huge innovation in the industry and in skiing itself,” Marcial added. “He’s really a pioneer who has shaped the sport. We’re really excited for this event.”

From 2001 to 2009, Hall was king of the superpipe and slopestyle courses, winning seven X Games gold medals and four silvers while also revolutionizing the style and flavor of the sport.

“I was blessed to live here with a family that took me up to Big Mountain every day,” Hall says. “When we were all growing up, we were all characters. We looked up to Glen Plake and Brad Holmes, people who had flavor.”

Hall is now inspired to stoke the flames that fuel his passion for the sport he loves. And to do that, he’s back in Kalispell, training daily at the gym, spending time with his mother, Darla, and father, Gerry. He’s eager for snow to blanket the mountains so he can return to his second home, where it all started. He’s also turned his attention to street skiing, hitting the skateboard-esque features of rails and other urban targets.

“I don’t have too many years left into this,” he says.

“I know if I’m going to do anything in the streets, I have to do it in the next year or two. I just want to get real creative. Street skiing is art. Like skiing lines is art, too. You got a blank canvas. When somebody skis a line and you look at it in sunny weather, that’s what I think is beautiful.”

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“Ring the Alarm” Premiere

Wednesday, Oct. 26

5:30-7:30 p.m., Casey’s, Whitefish

Tickets: $10 in advance at The Toggery and Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell and The White Room in Whitefish, $15 at the door. Open to all ages. Proceeds benefit Whitefish Freestyle Inc., which provides scholorship opportunities for young skiers and snowboarders on the Whitefish Mountain Resort freestyle team.

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