For the last 14 years, the Powder Awards have celebrated the athleticism, innovation, and artistry captured in ski films. In that time, the sport has experienced a radical reinterpretation for what was considered possible both on skis and in how it is filmed.
This year’s show, taking place this Friday, December 6, at The Depot in Salt Lake City, will likely have a youthful flair, since many of today’s most incredible ski feats on film are achieved by those under 30. But it’s also a time to honor the skiers who built the foundation for what is now possible. To that end, POWDER has invited a selection of guest presenters that reads like an All-Star cast. Their collective experience and influence is astounding, as skiing today wouldn’t be the same without them.
Photo of the Year: Ace Kvale
An original Klambin Kid, Ace Kvale helped transition skiing’s image away from the rigid world of racing to the free-spirited lifestyle of the ski bum. He has since traveled to more than 60 countries as a photographer, documenting everything from elite athletes to impoverished cultures.
Breakthrough Performance: Ingrid Backstrom
When Ingrid Backstrom appeared in MSP’s 2004 release Yearbook, hardly anyone outside the big mountain tour knew who she was. That all changed after that film, which won her Breakthrough Performance and Best Female Performance. Since 2005, she has garnered more Powder Awards than any other athlete, winning Best Female five times and the Reader Poll every year.
Best Natural Air: Dave McReynolds
Around the year 2000, Dave McReynolds was part of an Alta, Utah, crew that always found the deepest pow. Working with Lee Cohen, McReynolds snagged two POWDER covers, and became one of the primary influences for a new generation of Little Cottonwood rippers.
Best Powder: Lee Cohen
Few photographers have captured the magic of skiing deep powder as well as Lee Cohen. From behind the lens, Cohen’s work, primarily in Little Cottonwood Canyon, stretches back to the early 1980’s. Who better to present this award than the man who has seen more skiers get barreled than anyone else?
Best Line: Daron Rahlves
Rahlves, or D-Money, is the most decorated downhill and super-G skier in United States history. In his distinguished career, he has won 12 World Cup races, had 28 World Cup podiums, and seven U.S. National titles. In 2001, he was the super-G World Champion, and in 2005 he took the silver at the World Championships in downhill and the bronze in GS. In 2003, he became only the second American ever to win the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill. And oh yeah, he’s not just a racer. He won Best Line in 2010 for MSP’s In Deep, for dropping a gnarly spine in Alaska.
Best Jib: Bobbie Burns
The late great filmmaker Dick Barrymore saw Bobbie Burns flashing bumps at Sun Valley in the late 1960s and deemed him the “first hot-dogger.” Burns, known as the “Snow Goose” for his long blonde hair, went on to characterize and personify the freestyle movement of the 1970s. He was a member of the K2 Performers, which would travel the country to put on freestyle exhibitions, and he later founded The Ski, which was among the first skis designed specifically for moguls and powder, not racing. A man of style, Burns lives and skis in Sun Valley where he continues to design skis and his own signature line of apparel.
Best Manmade Air: Rory Bushfield
Everyone’s best friend, Bushfield has been featured in numerous ski films throughout his career. In 2007, he won this award for throwing a huge switch double back in MSP’s Push. When not skiing in B.C. or flying his prop plane, he globetrots with the Nitro Circus, and last year won ABC’s celebrity diving show, Splash.
Full Throttle: Jeremy Nobis
Before people were straightlining huge mountains on fat skis, there was Nobis. A former Olympian, Nobis shocked the world in TGR’s 1997 film Harvest by ripping down Alaska peaks in a hard-charging style that had never been seen before. The footage is widely regarded as launching the modern era of big mountain skiing.
Best Female Performance: Wendy Fisher
One of the most influential female skiers of all time, Wendy Fisher’s resume is staggering in its depth and diversity. She is a former Olympian, extreme comp champion, and role model for skiers everywhere. The Crested Butte local won Best Female Performance at the first two Powder Awards, in 2001 and 2002, for her role in MSP’s Ski Movie series.
Best Male Performance: Scot Schmidt
Scot Schmidt was the skier everyone wanted to be. His skiing for a series of Greg Stump films like Blizzard of Aahhh’s and License to Thrill transformed the sport from one that took place on low-angled slopes inbounds to the steep and deep beyond the rope. And he did it in a style that all skiers tried to emulate: the subtle tip cross, the tight but casual tuck in the air, the uncanny and impossibly smooth float though the air, and the hip check. His winters are now mostly spent at The Yellowstone Club, where he is the staff pro.
Movie of the Year: Greg Stump
Throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Greg Stump’s films turned the tide of skiing and inspired thousands of people to drop what they were doing and move to the mountains. Blizzard of Aahhh’s, from 1988, is often credited as being the greatest ski movie ever made, and few films since have matched its ability to stand the test of time. Last year, Stump released a long-awaited follow up to Blizzard called the Legend of Aahhh’s, a 2014 nominee for Best Documentary.