A Night of Firsts

Collinson, Cattabriga-Alosa, and urban skiers win big at 16th Annual Powder Awards

Marquee photo: JP Van Swae

Since the first Powder Awards show in Las Vegas in 2001, POWDER magazine has celebrated skiing by honoring the top athletes, cinematographers, and photographers who work to push their craft and the sport forward. Friday night in Salt Lake City was no different.

Though much has changed since the inaugural awards show, the 16th Annual Powder Awards recognized those who embody the timeless heart of skiing, and also those who venture outside tradition to explore new and changing avenues in the sport. This was the first year 10 women (instead of five), alongside 10 men, were recognized in the Powder Poll, as well as the first year an entirely-urban film, For Lack of Better, won Movie of the Year.

To watch all the highlights of the 16th Annual Powder Awards, go here.

Clayton Vila and Cam Riley accept the Movie of the Year win for their urban film "For Lack of Better." PHOTO: Mike Schirf
Clayton Vila and Cam Riley accept the Movie of the Year win for their urban film For Lack of Better. PHOTO: Mike Schirf

An energetic crowd, led by an enthusiastic Rachael Burks, rose to their feet in support of Utah local Angel Collinson, who accepted the first big award of the evening as the winner of the women’s Powder Poll. Upon accepting the award, voted on by readers, Collinson gave tribute to the woman who held the top female spot for the past 10 years.

“Aw shucks, the only thing I can say is, ‘All hail Ingrid,’” she said, referring to Ingrid Backstrom, hands shaking in excitement. “She’s given all of us so much, so this one goes out to Ingrid.”

No. 3 Caroline Gleich, No. 7 Lexi Dupont, No. 9 Sierra Quitiquit, and No. 10 Amie Engerbretson were all first time Powder Poll finishers who celebrated backstage by cracking beers using the metal edges of their awards.

Collinson took home additional hardware throughout the evening, winning Best Female Performance for the second year in a row for her segment in TGR’s Paradise Waits and making Powder Awards history as the first woman to win Best Line.

“Thank you to all the men, the TGR boys and the men who support us women and bring us into your fold and give us opportunities and support us and believe us. I would not be here without you,” Collinson said while accepting the award, later adding a shout out to the women in the house after winning Best Female Performance. “We’re doing it, ladies!”

Last year, Collinson’s segment in Teton Gravity Research’s film Almost Ablaze was the first time in the 20-plus-year history of TGR that a woman had the opening segment. In Paradise Waits, she ended the film with the closing segment.

“Women are really showing our belief in ourselves and that’s really cool to be on the front lines and part of this movement. I see it happening all around,” she said. “Believe in yourself first and foremost. It’s cliché and we overlook it, but a lot of times we doubt ourselves and we are capable of a lot more than we think we are.”

Collinson also raised her glass to the many loved ones in the skiing community who have passed away, including the No. 10 finisher in the men’s Powder Poll winner, Erik Roner, who died in a skydiving accident at Squaw Valley, California, this September. The crowd fell silent as a montage of photos and film segments of Roner played on stage before standing to toast a father, husband, and friend gone too soon. Friends and fellow TGR skiers Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Ian McIntosh accepted the award on Roner’s behalf.

“I could go on forever about how amazing this human being was, but I think we’ll just leave it to a Bruce Lee quote,” said McIntosh. “‘The key to immortality is first living a life everyone will remember.’ And Erik Roner, we will never forget you.”

Cattabriga-Alosa, whose positive nature has long resonated with viewers, returned to the stage later in the night to accept his win in the men’s Powder Poll, the first time he’s been voted number one. “This is an amazing honor. Holy shit, first?” he said, surprised at the win.

The big mountain backcountry skier also accepted his fourth win for Best Male Performance, one of the show’s most competitive categories.

“People ask me constantly, ‘You’ve been all over the world, where’s the best place?’ The best place is where you’re at. That’s what I’ve learned going to all these places,” he said after winning the top prize for men. “Your best day can be any day anywhere. It’s more about who you’re with and what your vibe is.”

Powder Awards veteran Sean Pettit, who won Best Natural Air for his cork 720 in The Masquerade, presented the Breakthrough Performance Award to 32-year-old Josh Daiek—the “backflip king” and self-described “blue-collar skier,” who works as a carpenter during the summer to afford skiing in the winter.

“I’m just blown away right now. I’m an all or nothing type of guy. When I get the chance, I like to go for it,” said Daiek, who has competed for years on the big mountain comp circuit but finally thrust on the scene this year with his dominating performance in blank. The Movie. “We had some good weather days and I gave it my all. I’m stoked we got some good shots.”

World Extreme skiing champ and the first ever winner of Best Powder back in 2001, Dave Swanwick, presented this year’s ode to deep snow to Paddy Graham, Sven Kuehnle, and Fraser McDougall, from the opening segment of Legs of Steel’s Passenger. Legs of Steel also won the award for Best Manmade Air for its jump train segment featuring 17 skiers. The film company won those same awards in 2012. In addition, the European crew took home Best Cinematography for their innovative and artistic shots using drone flyovers and portraiture.

A skiing style on the other end of the spectrum was recognized when the Full Throttle award was given to Cam Riley, the gritty urban skier whose unprecedented level of determination and dedication to his craft was best demonstrated throughout For Lack of Better. In one segment, he attempts a handrail grind more than 100 times before nailing it on the 132nd try.

“We’ve been pushing the sport for years and we’re finally getting recognized for what we do and I couldn’t be happier about it,” he said. “I hope support continues down the line and I hope kids keep pushing the sport past this.”

In addition to their Movie of the Year win, For Lack of Better also took home the award for Best Documentary for providing insight into the often misunderstood world of urban skiing. It’s the first time in Powder Awards history a film won both Best Documentary and Movie of the Year.

“Creating a plot that’s worth watching is definitely difficult. Our movie is telling a story of something that people don’t really understand,” said Clayton Vila. “Skiing is the last thing we do. But this is what we love to do—the whole process around it—this is skiing to us.”

Powder Poll Winners
Men:
1. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa
2. Cody Townsend
3. Candide Thovex
4. Sean Pettit
5. Tom Wallisch
6. Pep Fujas
7. Eric Pollard
8. Eric Hjorleifson
9. Sammy Carlson
10. Erik Roner

Women:
1. Angel Collinson
2. Ingrid Backstrom
3. Caroline Gleich
4. Elyse Saugstad
5. Lynsey Dyer
6. Michelle Parker
7. Lexi Dupont
8. Tatum Monod
9. Sierra Quitiquit
10. Amie Engerbretson

Photo of the Year
Svalbard, Norway
Photographer: Reuben Krabbe

Full Throttle
Cam Riley, For Lack of Better

Breakthrough Performer
Josh Daiek, blank. The Movie.

Best Line
Angel Collinson, Paradise Waits, Teton Gravity Research

Best Manmade Air
Train, Passenger, Legs of Steel

Best Natural Air
Sean Pettit, The Masquerade, Superproof

Best Powder
Paddy Graham, Sven Kuehnle, Fraser McDougall, Passenger, Legs of Steel

Best Jib
Mitchell Brower, Small World, Level 1

Best Female Performance
Angel Collinson, Paradise Waits, Teton Gravity Research

Best Male Performance
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Paradise Waits, Teton Gravity Research

Best Short
Good Company One, Good Company

Best Editing
The Great Siberian Traverse, Sherpas Cinema

Best Cinematography
Passenger, Legs of Steel

Best Documentary
For Lack of Better, Teton Gravity Research

Movie of the Year
For Lack of Better, Teton Gravity Research