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New documentary features US Ski Team

Ted Ligety now realizes acting and skiing have at least one thing in common: They're not as easy as they look.

Already a star on the slopes, Ligety played a role in the upcoming documentary "Truth in Motion: The U.S. Ski Team's Road to Vancouver," which NBC will air Saturday night.

And Ligety thought careening down a slope at nearly 60 mph was tough.

It felt almost tame compared to having a film crew follow him around for days on end, recording his every move and conversation. At all hours no less, including when he first opened his eyes at 5 a.m.

"Those cameras definitely take some getting used to," Ligety said, laughing, during a recent telephone conversation from Europe.

The documentary captures the members of the U.S. Ski Team simply being themselves. It's sort of like the HBO reality show "Hard Knocks," which followed selected NFL teams around during training camp.

"You see exactly what we're going through every day," said Ligety, who won gold in the combined at the 2006 Turin Games. "I don't think anybody has ever gotten a truly in-depth look at ski racing. It's cool in that respect. This portrays what we do."

The movie begins with Scott Macartney's horrific downhill crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria, two years ago, when he lost his balance on the final jump while going nearly 90 mph. Slamming his head on the snow, Macartney lost his helmet and slid unconscious across the finish line.

When asked about the crash on camera for the documentary, Macartney answers, "Better to get hurt charging ..."

And so this movie goes.

The director of the film, Brett Morgen, was with the team for several months, starting in training camp in Portillo, Chile, and staying on through World Cup competitions leading up to the announcement of the American team earlier this week.

Morgen and his crew shot nearly 400 hours of film, then whittled it down to an hour show. Once the skiers got used to the cameras being around, it made for some entertaining clips.

"There were numerous moments where people said things to us that shocked and surprised us at how open they were," Morgen said of the project, sponsored by Audi. "It was very important for us to let the skiing tell the story."

And for the personalities to shine through.

"This (ski film) spends more time on the characters and people, the personalities and the perseverance," said Scott Keogh, the chief marketing officer at Audi, one of the sponsors of the U.S. Ski Team.

Sarah Schleper and Ligety have big parts in the film. Ligety for his devotion to his craft, Schleper for her ability to get back on the slopes.

Until this season, Schleper hasn't spent all that much time on the snow. She's been sidelined with injuries and then the birth of her son, Lasse, who turns 2 on the day the movie comes out.

With her family in tow, the 30-year-old Schleper set out this season to earn a spot on her fourth Olympics team, a goal that she accomplished.

Schleper's portion of the film centers on her training and family time.

In one scene, teammates ask Schleper how many runs she's going to do that day on the slopes.

"One more than all you guys," she replied, laughing, before zooming down the mountain.

The film also showed her coming home exhausted from training and still finding the energy to play with her son.

"This film is going to have a really positive impact on our sport," Schleper said. "It's going to show all the elements people really don't know about ski racing — showing the risks that we're taking."

There's a dose of drama in the film with newcomer Tommy Ford and veteran Jake Zamansky competing for what was shaping up to be one of the last remaining spots on the Olympic squad.

Turned out, both made the team.

Even Bode Miller makes an appearance in the film, a little cameo role where he talks about his teammates. Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are briefly in the film as well.

For Ligety, being cast in the documentary was quite an experience.

As for his budding acting career, though, it will have to wait.

He's more than content starring on the slopes.

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On the Web:

http://www.truthinmotion-movie.com

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