Marquee Image: David Reddick
The Powder Awards are about one thing—ski movies, and the athletes and the filmmakers who make them. For 17 years, the Powder Awards have celebrated their achievements and art.
This year's show is Thursday night at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, Colorado, and kicks off the Winter Dew Tour (a few tickets are still available). It's an opportunity for skiers and winter people to mix and mingle with the world's best athletes, photographers, and cinematographers. We hope to see you there, but first, to understand the camaraderie and traditions behind the show, I spoke with former POWDER editors Keith Carlsen, Derek Taylor, and John Stifter to get their highlights from years past.
Carlsen launched the inaugural Powder Video Awards in Las Vegas. "People arrived in limousines," he says, "and we aimed at making it the only event in skiing with a red carpet." Ski movie pioneer Greg Stump hosted the show. A young Seth Morrison took home the inaugural award for "Best Male Performance." Ultimate pranksters Shane McConkey and Scott Gaffney accepted "Best Humor" dressed as babies in diapers with handheld fart machines. For better or worse, the fart machines didn’t work.
After Las Vegas, the party moved to the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado, where it stayed for the next 8 years. In 2006, according to Taylor, "Matt Reardon and Marc-Andre Belliveau played an acoustic set with guitars. This was after Belliveau’s injuries. They learned how to play each other's signature song about an hour before the show. That year, Belliveau was gifted a guitar custom-made by [musician] Ben Harper's brother. It was signed by Harper, and his good friend, Jack Johnson." That year, Belliveau would share the all-coveted “Best Powder" award with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Will Burks, and Dave McReynolds, for their juicy turns featured in Teton Gravity Research’s The Tangerine Dream.
Tanner Hall showed up with a full reggae entourage. "[They] scored his movie, Believe," says Stifter. "Tall Jamaican dudes…enjoying their earthly libations. And Tanner's acceptance speech: impassioned, political, and all-encompassing." Taking home awards for “Movie of the Year,” “Best Male Performance,” and “Best Line." Hall gave everyone a high with his movie, Believe.
An 85-year-old Warren Miller received the only "Lifetime Achievement Award" ever presented. Taylor introduced the legendary filmmaker, whose acceptance speech echoed the same mantra captured in his films. "Make a lot of turns, enjoy every moment of it,” Miller remarked, “Because freedom is what it’s all about."
Sarah Burke arrived (fashionably) late to an over-capacity venue. "She was asked to wait outside, and got sent home," says Taylor. One year earlier, "one of my personal highlights,” noted Stifter, "was seeing Sarah accept her Reader’s Poll award in her ski gear. She had just won the X Games Superpipe on national television, at a time when women weren’t getting primetime TV spots, and had to race to Powder Awards. It just showed her passion for skiing."
In Salt Lake City at the 14th annual show, the Sweetgrass Productions crew accepted the "Movie of the Year" award for Valhalla completely naked.
Only a few months after JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson died in an avalanche in South America, readers voted in the Powder Poll and, in his memory, awarded Auclair first place. After a moving tribute to the influential skier, Armada co-founder Hans Smith, Julian Regnier, and Auclair's father, Jean Auclair, accepted the award on his behalf.
If you can’t make the show tonight, follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and #PowderAwards.