Sammy C Rules the Powder Awards

The biggest night in skiing goes off in Breckenridge

They were simply doing him a favor. He was too hot and had to cool off, even though the night was only halfway through.

How appropriate, then, that Sammy Carlson—who took home three trophies at the 17th Annual Powder Awards, including Best Air, Best Powder, and Best Male Performance, for the film The Sammy C Project—got iced on stage by guest presenters Pat Sewell and Chris Tatsuno.

Carlson fulfilled his obligation by kneeling and chugging the wretched fluid, and reminded everyone at Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center why they were all there in the first place.

See who else won at the 17th Annual Powder Awards.

“We all know what’s it’s all about,” Carlson said to a packed house while accepting the award for Best Powder, “and it’s about deep pow.”

Sammy Carlson does his duty, with guest presenters Chris Tatsuno and Pat Sewell, as he accepts the award for Best Powder at the 17th Annual Powder Awards. PHOTO: David Reddick
Sammy Carlson does his duty, with guest presenters Chris Tatsuno and Pat Sewell, as he accepts the award for Best Powder at the 17th Annual Powder Awards. PHOTO: David Reddick

It was just one moment in a night filled with energy recognizing the year’s best in athletic and cinematographic achievement. From Chris Davenport, who attended the very first Powder Awards in Las Vegas in 2001 and took home the prize for seventh place in the 17th Annual Powder Poll, and Candide Thovex, who traveled all way the way from his native France to accept the award for first place in the Powder Poll, to newcomers Kalen Thorien, the number two female in the Powder Poll, and Thayne Rich, who won Breakthrough Performance, the event offered a keen reflection to those who dedicate their lives to sliding on snow. But the theme that kept rising to the fore was that of gratitude: being thankful for skiing, snow, friends, and family.

“It’s a great honor for me,” said Thovex. “It’s been a while since the Powder Awards have been in place, and it’s a big thing to be invited. I didn’t even bring my skis. I just came for this.”

Watch video from every award at the 17th Annual Powder Awards.

“I want to say thanks to my family for teaching me how to ski, and getting me out when I was a kid,” said Rich, who broke onto the scene with an incredible season skiing in Good Company’s Vice Versa, 4FRNT’s Here and Now, and Level 1’s Pleasure. Backstage, he added, “It was just a dream and now it’s a reality. It’s the ultimate payoff in skiing. The key is finding what you do best, and finding what you do worst. It takes a long time, but once you figure that out and find out what’s your comfort zone, you can push your limits, but also stay within what your comfortable with.”

Pleasure, an exquisite film that somehow manages to make insanely talented skiing seem relatable to everyday skiers, was recognized with the biggest award of the night, Movie of the Year.

“Every year we go into a season with a list of goals in mind, and it shapes the direction,” said Level 1 founder and director Josh Berman, “but the constant theme over the last couple of years is we’ve been wanting to make a ski film that’s fun, that makes people want to go skiing.”

Freedle Coty, Level 1’s “general specialist,” added, “We wouldn’t be anything without the people who watch this beautiful sport, and it is a beautiful sport.”

The 17th Annual Powder Awards mixed classic irreverence with polished delivery, thanks to hosts Mike Powell and Michelle Parker. Johnny Collinson accepted two awards (first place in the Powder Poll women, and Best Female Performance) on behalf of his sister, Angel, by dressing in drag. “Do you have a sister?” he asked backstage, as he climbed into a dress. “Would you do this for her?”

The only answer to that question had to be, “What would McConkey do?” And out went Collinson, sashaying in front of nearly 1,000 people in attendance, proving that while the awards mean a great deal, skiers should never take themselves too seriously.

One of the night’s biggest awards, Full Throttle, went to JF Houle, recognized as the skier who charged the hardest in the past year. “I am a loose cannon,” said a smiling Houle, who also took home the Best Jib award from Blank Collective’s Canvas. “I find a zone and no one can talk me out of it. I’ll do anything I can till I can’t walk to get the shot and the thing I want. It’s in my heart and bigger than I can understand and makes me do what I do.”

But the night belonged to Carlson, whose film The Sammy C Project was produced by Teton Gravity Research. His parting words should carry all skiers through the coming winter. “The thing I want to say is, ‘Don’t gain the world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver and gold,’” he said. “I’m still hyped on skiing and to be able to push the sport. To me, it’s just about having fun.”