Spotlight On: Cody Townsend and The FIFTY

Lucy Ferneyhough | BackcountryBackcountry | Industry NewsIndustry News
Cody Townsend started The Fifty in January 2019.
Cody Townsend is on a mission to ski the fifty most iconic descents in North America. — Credit: Outside, Blake Jorgenson

Unlike many athletes who grew up watching the Olympics and aspiring to be the best of the best in the competitive world, Cody Townsend had a very different vision for his future when he was learning to ski in Squaw Valley: he wanted to produce ski movies and go down in history as one of the best pro freeskiers, encouraged by the greats of Squaw Valley that he spent his childhood chasing behind. After being inspired by the movies and skiing of the likes of Scot Schmidt, Shane McConkey, JT Holmes, and Kent Kreitler, Townsend started building his own career in film and freeskiing.

The Fifty project has taken Cody Townsend all across the most iconic lines in North America.
Cody Townsend skiing lines for his new project, The Fifty, in British Columbia, Canada. — Credit: Blister, Weston Shirey

Since 2008 Townsend has been pulling out wins in freeskiing competitions such as the Swatch Big Mountain Pro Invitational and Skier’s Cup, the Freeride World Qualifier and Tour, and he has proved himself over and over again as a world-renowned pro freeskier, consistently being voted in the Top Ten for Best Male Performance in Powder Magazine since 2012, snagging second place from 2015-2018 and first place in this year’s awards. On top of that, Townsend is also frequently recognized for his cinematic accomplishments with awards at film festivals both for his productions, his roles in films such as Teton Gravity’s Winterland, and short clips he releases.

Cody Townsend recently released Peak Obsession, a short film detailing two episodes of The Fifty.
Jeremy Jones and Cody Townsend in Alaska filming for Peak Obsession. — Credit: Teton Gravity, Nic Alegre

At the beginning of 2019, Townsend launched a mammoth new project with Summit Lunch Productions and filmmaker Bjarne Salén which saw him traveling all across North America on a mission to hike and ski all fifty of the most iconic mountain descents detailed in Chris Davenport, Penn Newhard, and Art Burrows’ essential ski book, Fifty Classic Descents of North America. While these fifty lines have been frequented by pro skiers numerous times over history, Townsend will be the first to ski all of them, and on top of that, without the help of helicopters or snowmobiles. Townsend is documenting the entire Fifty Project on his YouTube channel and Instagram, and he hopes to complete it over the course of three years.

Each line of The FIFTY is featured as an episode on his Youtube channel, but Townsend also recently released an official short film called Peak Obsession, specifically to showcase two of the most challenging lines he skied with Jeremy Jones in Alaska. As we move into 2020, season two of The FIFTY looks to be even more insane than 2019 and we can’t wait to see what Cody Townsend pulls out for his upcoming projects.


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