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TGR Helps Bring Lindsey Vonn Super Bowl Ad to Life

If you were among the more than 100 million people who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, chances are you might have seen a commercial for the upcoming Winter Olympics highlighting Lindsey Vonn and the frankly insane amount of injuries she's overcome in her career. If you somehow missed it, here it is:

What you might not have realized, however, was the role Teton Gravity Research played in making that commercial (as well as  a commercial for Chloe Kim and Mikaela Shiffrin): We served as second-unit directors on the commercials, with TGR co-founder Todd Jones leading the way on the efforts.

So, in the interest of investigative publishing and hard-hitting journalism, I walked all the way across the office to ask Todd what goes into shooting an Olympic promo. Here's what he had to say.

TGR: What was the most difficult aspect of filming the commercials?

TJ: I think just dealing with the weather and the fact that all these athletes are training for the biggest event of their lives–the Olympics–so asking them to take time to do those commercials in the middle of training was a little stressful.

Specifically, on the Chloe Kim shot–which went down in Saas-Fee, Switzerland–we had 70 people we were moving around the mountain and tons of gear, and that's always challenging with weather coming in and out. Especially because we couldn't even get on the mountain the day before we shot the spot because the mountain was closed from heavy snowfall, and typically in shooting a commercial you have a tech scout day the day prior to shooting.

Then, with the Lindsey Vonn shoot, we weren't able to get our own private course for the shot, so we had to integrate into the U.S. team's training program. And when racers are going downhill at 70 miles per hour, coaches aren't really too keen on you moving around the course. They want to be secure in where you are and what you're doing filming, so we had to work hard to get the shots.

The other big difficulty is in finding snow. These commercials aren't assigned until around September or October, but to get them on air by winter, you need to start filming and editing immediately, so you have to find snow in October or early November. And not just snow; for the Chloe Kim we needed to have an Olympic spec halfpipe, and for Vonn's shot we needed a real speed course.

How different is this than shooting what TGR typically shoots?

TJ: For me, I shoot all over the spectrum–whether that's documentaries or commercials or our films–so it's not really different. But I like mixing it up.

I like the different format and challenges that come with having specific goals and shots we need to get. I think it's a cool way to approach production. Ultimately, whether you're shooting a core action sports film or a national commercial spot, you can learn a lot from all of it and take it into other universes.

Are you stoked on how they all turned out?

TJ: I'm extremely happy with how they turned out, but a lot of that credit goes to Pretty Bird Productions and Paul Hunter. They were the main production company, and they did an outstanding job on it, we just came on as the second-unit directors, which means we directed and shot all the on-mountain stuff. But I'm very happy with what Pretty Bird was able to accomplish and what we were able to execute.

About The Author

stash member Robert Pursell

Connecticut journalism transplant who enjoys telling stories, drinking beer and skiing, though not necessarily in that order. I have the annoying habit of petting other people's dogs without asking.