Good Life

State High grad documents winter sports

Mark Kogelmann skiing at Snowbird.
Mark Kogelmann skiing at Snowbird. Photo provided

State College native Mark Kogelmann was skiing at Jackson Hole on Wednesday and documenting a brother-sister skiing duo native to the area.

Max Hammer, 24, and his sister Hadley Hammer, 27, are professional freeride skiers with the LINE ski team.

On Thursday, the adventure was cut short after the group set off a 100-foot avalanche. Luckily, Kogelmann said, there were no injuries.

The production was all part of Kogelmann’s business, SoulRyders — a Salt Lake City-based, athlete-owned production company that documents the adventures of those professional snow sport enthusiasts who shred for the love of the sport.

“We’re helping put these professional skiers who no one really knows on the map,” Kogelmann, 35, said.

The company is in its second year, and Kogelmann said he set it up after working for Black & Decker.

“I had this corporate job and was absolutely miserable,” Kogelmann said. “I kind of had an epiphany and needed to do something with my life that wasn’t work.”

The idea came after a day of skiing and watching other skiers hit the slopes and do tricks without any documentation of their own.

“They were just out there skiing like crazy, and it was pretty cool that they went out there just doing it for themselves,” Kogelmann said. “I really wanted to focus on producing an indie film company that targeted athletes who did it for the love of the it.”

Last year, SoulRyders’ headquarters moved to Salt Lake City from Seattle.

Kogelmann, the youngest of four and the son of an Austrian immigrant who owned Alpine Sales & Rental in Bellefonte, is a professional skier with La Sportiva. Alpine Sales & Rental is now run by his brother, Chip Kogelmann.

Calling Tussey Mountain his childhood playground, Kogelmann said he knew he was born to ski since the age of 3.

Kogelmann became professional out of high school when he graduated from State College Area High School in 1997. He then graduated from Penn State with a degree in English in 2006. He later married Judith Dempsey, also a State High and Penn State graduate.

In 2010, while skiing in Whistler, British Columbia, Jay Goodrich, a Powder Magazine photographer, was shooting the Winter Olympics. There, Kogelmann made a connection with Goodrich.

He and Goodrich shot back-country skiing up in the peaks while the Olympians were on the other side of the mountain. During the day, Goodrich shot the Olympics while Kogelmann mingled with the spectators.

For two seasons, Kogelmann shot footage with Goodrich at Mount Baker in Washington state.

Now with his production company, Kogelmann both skis and travels the world filming others who share his love of the sport. He films his work with Scott Markewitz, Will Wissman and Jeremiah Watt. Goodrich also joined his team for Kogelmann’s SoulRyders Freeride Tour.

Earlier this month, Kogelmann released a video series called “ Lines of Control” that documented skiers and the lifestyle of those in the Himalayas.

Last year, Kogelmann and a group of filmmakers went to Kashmir, India, for the ski movie and Web series.

The filming documented both the political unrest of the area that borders Pakistan and those who take advantage of skiing the Himalayas, Kogelmann said.

“You’re literally out there, and there are men with guns walking the same terrain you’re skiing,” Kogelmann said. “There is a huge divide, but the footage really shows a place and its people, and those who ski at one of the best places in the world.”

His team consisted of Thayne Rich, Kalen Thorien, Tony Rossi and Vanessa Aadland.

The day they touched down in India, the government hanged a convicted Kashmiri man who they had branded a terrorist and secretly buried his body in the prison where he was held, Kogelmann said.

More recently, as his company is continuing to grow, Kogelmann has branched off into different documentary series. His current series, titled “ The Hörsts: A Climbing Family” after the last name of the family he profiles, follows a family of world-class rock climbers from Lancaster.

Eric Hörst, 50, a Penn State graduate and author, is a lifelong, dedicated and acclaimed climber whose passion has inspired his family and thousands of fellow climbers, Kogelmann said.

Hörst is married to Lisa, a golf pro, and is father to world-class climbers Cameron, 13, and Jonathan, 11.

And Kogelmann’s next adventure, a skate series, will follow skateboarders including Matt Dove, while also conducting additional ski trips to Chile and Argentina.

Jesse Fritsch, a fellow State High graduate, will consult Kogelmann on the skate series. Fritsch is a pro skater who competed in the X Games.

From pre-production to post-production, Kogelmann said, his video series take about nine months. Kogelmann’s videos can be found on In four days, Kogelmann said, his webisodes attract about 20,000 views.

“It’s a great experience because we’re traveling around the country and around the world, and scouting out new talent and seeing the younger generation, then giving them face time on the world’s stage,” Kogelmann said. “We’re hoping to grow, but not too fast, and just do what we love and what we seek out to do.”