Ever wonder what it takes to build an X Games halfpipe or design a slopestyle feature fit for the most elite skiers and snowboarders? Starting Thursday, you'll have a chance to find out by watching Mountain Movers, a new reality TV show premiering this week on the National Geographic Channel starring the rockstar terrain park builders of Snow Park Technologies (SPT).
"Mountain Movers will tell the story about the design and construction efforts that go into the work we do at SPT, and the different conditions and environments we deal with along the way," said Chris "Gunny" Gunnarson, the founder of SPT. "Each episode will follow one project from start to finish -- from initial design and planning through the execution of the project on site."
SPT is the world's foremost designer and builder of resort terrain parks and competition courses. The Verdi, Nev.-based company has constructed over 250 park and course builds around the world, including all 17 of the winter X Games. Gunny founded SPT in 1997 while he was working as Snow Summit's terrain park director. Gunny's offshoot terrain park consulting business landed the gig to build the first X Games course at Snow Summit in 1997 and SPT hasn't put the halfpipe cutter away since.
The unique talents of SPT's crew matched with the pressure they battle to deliver cutting-edge park features for televised events attracted the attention of Good Clean Fun, a reality TV production company from Los Angeles. Good Clean Fun is responsible for well known reality shows such as Life Of Ryan, the 2008 show about pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, and Run's House, the long-running show about Run-DMC rapper turned reverend Joseph Simmons and his family.
"Mountain Movers is a reality because Good Clean Fun really believed in the concept," said Gunny. "But it was still incredibly difficult to break into television. It was far more challenging and took a lot longer than I expected."
Bolstered by Good Clean Fun's proven track record and the support of high profile partners Wasserman Media Group and Chevrolet, Mountain Movers found a home on the National Geographic Channel. "I'm really excited that the show is on Nat Geo," said Gunny. "I have held Nat Geo in high esteem ever since I was kid reading National Geographic Magazine at my grandparents' house."
Filming for the show began in October 2012 and wrapped up mid-March 2013. The eight-episode series will focus on eight different projects SPT tackled this past winter, including a massive rail feature for the Dew Tour, a jump line for a Red Bull training camp at Sun Valley and the monstrous course build for X Games Aspen 2013.
During the filming, up to 16 Good Clean Fun production staff members followed the SPT crew's every move, capturing their work with GoPros, cine cameras and RC heli cams.
"Having the cameras around was pretty distracting and kind of awkward at first, but after a while I barely noticed them," said SPT's lead jib fabricator Tyrone Coyne.
Rainstorms and equipment failures are a reality for SPT whether the cameras are rolling or not, so don't expect any made-for-TV drama in the show.
"What's refreshing about Mountain Movers is that there is nothing contrived. It's straight up," said Gunny. "We are in difficult locations, with a difficult job at hand and we're trying to create something amazing. We face a lot of adversity that's beyond our control so there was no need to make up drama for the show. We're dealing with dramatic circumstances and what we accomplish is very real."
The primetime series begins Thursday, May 9 at 8 p.m. EST on the National Geographic Channel. Subsequent shows will run on consecutive Thursdays. As far as the possibility of future seasons of Mountain Movers, the jury is still out.
"I think there's a pretty strong possibility that we'll do another season but that's something we're still figuring out," said Gunny. "The decision rests on Nat Geo and our appetite for putting ourselves out there again like this. What we do is already not easy and when you add a filming component it makes it that much harder. Only time will tell."