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The Vegas Experiment A Ski and Snowboard Documentary

By November 24, 2012December 26th, 2019Blog, Video
Tyler Heffernan / Special to the Tribune
South Tahoe resident Scottie Hoffman busts a huge backflip with minimal room for clearance in The Vegas Experiment, a South Tahoe ski and snowboard documentary filmed 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas.

Introduction/Purpose: Las Vegas doesn’t exactly spark visions of fresh powder and epic shredding, but a group of South Lake Tahoe residents set out to change that at the end of last season.

Fed up with the lack of snow, seven local riders and a film crew went in search of something different. They found it at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort. The crew was given five days of unlimited access to the resort once it closed its doors for the season, and it set out to see what would happen when Tahoe talent met Vegas creativity.

“We thought it would be interesting to see what the town of Lake Tahoe could do if we went to Las Vegas and said, ‘build it and build it big,’” director JT Chevallier said.

Hypothesis: If we drop seven South Tahoe shredders on a deserted ski resort with full reign of the mountain and bar, then it will unleash a documentary of uncharted proportions.

Materials: For this experiment we will need one JT Chevallier; needed for directing, editing and general masterminding. Please combine with South Lake Tahoe’s best, including but not limited to, head rider Scottie Hoffman, Mik Gadomski (token skier), Alex Pedersen, Matt Jones, Anton Ryzenkov, Marco Gooding and Nick Brownsberger.

In a separate bowl, mix together one expert director of photography named Chris Horton, and one Brandi Ledbetter from Tahoe Production House to serve as executive producer.

Take note that no profit will be gained during the experimental process. Lab clothing will be provided by California Grown. All material are to report to Las Vegas Resort by April 9, and please come prepared to throw down.Gathering

Materials: Bringing Tahoe to Vegas is a long drive. The crew loaded equipment, personal items and a puppy into three cars and hit the road.But what’s a Vegas road trip without a run in with the law?

One of the cars was pulled over somewhere near Mammoth for a cracked windshield.  “We felt like we got straight super troopered. The policeman passed us and then he slowed down on the side of the road so we passed him. Then he passed us again, and then he went behind us and then he ended up pulling us over,” Gadomski said.

The car ended up getting searched, and when they found Gadomski’s old fireworks everyone was loaded into the back of the cop car. Apparently, driving away from Mammoth to film a ski and snowboard documentary in Las Vegas is not a convincing alibi.

“We were sitting in the back of the cop car, and I think they finally decided that we were telling the truth and actually going to Las Vegas to ski and snowboard,” Gadomski said.

It took some convincing, but the derailed experiment finally got back on track.

“Yeah, it was almost the Mono County Jail Experiment instead,” Chevallier said.

Procedure: As the Vegas lights faded into the distance, and the crew drove deeper into the mountains the members began wondering just how literal camping out at the mountain would be.

The Las Vegas Resort isn’t exactly surrounded by luxury hotels. It boasts three double lifts and two snowcats that terrain park director Josh Bean is probably more familiar with than he’d like.

“They had two cats and every time one broke down they’d pull pieces off the one that broke down and try to fix the other one,” Gadomski said.

It was a modest mountain compared to Tahoe, but the resort had an easy-going, shred-where-you-will attitude that is a dying breed among ski resorts.

“We expected all these guidelines, oversight and micromanaging from marketing teams and PR firms, but we didn’t see any of that,” Chevallier said. “They literally went here’s the resort, and gave me the master key. They said, ‘you can shower in here and feel free to use the bar.’”

So the crew made themselves at home. They settled into yurts and, with a sweet home base established, the guys struck out to build the features of their dreams.

Everyone spent the first day sketching rails and hits off resort features that caught their attention. At the end of the day, they compiled sketches and started planning how to make those dreams come to life.

“We wanted to utilize the resort as the park and not necessarily putting a rail in the rail line. They’ve all crested that point in their career,” Chevallier said “The creativity of all the riders on each of those features kind of tells its own story.”

Results: The guys got creative. Pedersen came up with a drop out of the trees over a dirt gap.

When both snowcats went down, Gadomski was out there dragging picnic tables together.

“We were all thinking it was going to be a down day. We were going to let it snow, but Mik’s out there with a shovel putting tables together like it’s an erector set,” Chevallier said.

Everyone eventually pitched in and the tables transformed into a substantial jump that was worth the work and made the cut.

Hoffman’s creation was the best though. It was a pole jam between a lift tower and a lift shack with maybe two feet of insurance room.

“You see Mik Gadomski hit that thing switch on skis and you’re just like, what? And then he hits it regular and actually taps the roof with his skis as he does a 270 out,” Chevallier said. “I would never in my right mind be able to dream something like that up.”

These guys did dream it up though, and the Vegas Resort let them.

The end result is not a film about 90 footers, new tricks, or big name pros. This is a film about a group of friends who got a ski resort to themselves for five days, and like any kid from Tahoe, they made the most of it.

“It’s something different, not your average ski edit,” Horton said. “It’s got a different taste to it.”

The result is a free video that will get you stoked to go ride with friends (

Conclusion: The crew is already talking about a possible Vegas Experiment 2, and this time with bigger features. A Vegas sequel is just the beginning though.

The goal is to take the Vegas Experiment and use the same concept at other small resorts around the world. Small resorts are struggling, and that mom and pop feel is something Chevallier doesn’t want to see die.

“Las Vegas allowed these riders to think outside the box, and they supported them,” Chevallier said. “Maybe it will create some sort of blueprint for the future where riders can have a little bit more control over how parks are built or ski resorts marketed.”

No matter where it goes from here, the general concusses was this, The Vegas Experiment was a success.

“Even if we never get a chance like that again, the fact that we all got to live that dream is really something that I think all of us are going to hold onto the rest of our lives,”Chevallier said.

— This lab report was compiled by sports editor Becky Regan. For further scientific discussion, she can be reached at