Even though the biggest night in skiing--the 18th Annual Powder Awards, held Thursday night in Breckenridge, Colorado--featured the most talented and creative artistry of the best skiers in the world, those who took home the hardware were grounded in an idea all skiers can understand: To ski is a privilege, community is paramount, and the mountains are home and worth protecting.
"I want to leave you with four things," said Nicolas Teichrob, co-founder and director of Dendrite Studios, which took home the night's top prize of Movie of the Year for their film Numinous. "One: be playful. Two: choose love. Three: don't take life too seriously, and four: connect with nature, because when you do your life will be that much better."
Conceived 18 years ago as the first awards show recognizing the artistic expression of skiers, cinematographers, and photographers, the Powder Awards continues to celebrate the highest achievements in ski film. Through its longevity, the event allows skiers the chance to sit back and reflect on the various feats that took place during the winter, and then see how they can progress to a new level. Throughout the show, skiers mentioned the influence of those who passed too soon, like Shane McConkey and JP Auclair, who won numerous awards in their time.
Host Jonny Moseley, an Olympic gold medalist in bump skiing whose famous 'Dinner Roll' helped redefine the sport at the 2002 Olympics, spoke to the revolutionary changes that have taken place in skiing during the show's tenure. In his first time hosting the Powder Awards, Moseley injected humor, historical reference, and audience engagement by twice bringing unsuspecting viewers onto the stage to announce winners.
In Moseley's show introduction, he noted how skiers like Auclair and JF Cusson blew the doors open on skiing with off-axis spins and changed the entire dynamic of the sport. Those new styles were adopted around the globe and imported to the backcountry, an influence that is directly tied to the skiing seen in today's films.
"The truth is very few things come out of nowhere," Moseley said. "They are inspired by someone or something, and tonight that's what we are here to honor--the skiers, the filmmakers, all the photographers at the world's longest running awards show. And yes, these awards will be game-changers for the athletes and filmmakers in this room, but most importantly, we are a small family, and this night brings us together, everyone, to celebrate another sick year of skiing."
This year, 37 films were submitted for 13 awards. A panel of six judges--representing a wide swath of the ski community--spent countless hours dissecting each film to decide the winners. The show attracted a standing-room only crowd to Breckenridge’s expansive Riverwalk Center. Trophies went to some familiar faces, including Tanner Hall for Best Air in the film Triumph, and Sammy Carlson for Best Male. Hall was recognized for sending a huge double back flip over Chad's Gap in Utah, where a nasty fall over a decade ago nearly ended his career.
"I never thought I'd be back here after that day in March 2005, but God has a funny way of working," Hall said while accepting his trophy. "If you're following someone's footsteps, those aren't your footsteps. Don't be afraid to be yourself."
Meanwhile, Matchstick Productions snagged the award for Best Powder and Kye Petersen took home a stack of hardware by winning Full Throttle for his work in Numinous. Numinous, along with claiming Movie of the Year, also won trophies for Best Post Production, and Powder Awards rookie Logan Pehota's stunning drop for Best Line.
"I don't feel like I deserve this award," Petersen said of Full Throttle, which recognizes the skier who charges all year long. "I'm not trying to be full throttle. I'm trying to be the best I can be and have the most fun I can have on the mountain. But to come here and get an award is such a huge accomplishment."
The 18th Annual Powder Awards will also be known for crowning several new faces, as a fresh generation of skiers picks up the torch to make their own mark. LJ Strenio, upon accepting the award for Best Jib, pointed to the show's host in astonishment and said, "That's Jonny Moseley!"
Tatum Monod won Best Female Performance for her multi-faceted skiing in Level 1's film, Habit. She joins a historic list of previous winners, including Sarah Burke, Ingrid Backstrom, Lynsey Dyer, and Angel Collinson. It was Monod's first Powder Award.
"This award has been a goal of mine to win for years and years," said Monod, who's recovering from a knee injury. "Just to be nominated, let alone win, is a huge deal for me. I've put in so much work. It's been an absolute mission and trek to get my knee back and my life back and all I want is to get back into the mountain and doing what I love.”
Newcomer Keegan Kilbride scored the trophy for Breakthrough Performance.
"This is insane, dude," a stunned Kilbride said. "I don't think I've gotten a trophy since football in high school."
A new award was added to the show this year. As the sport of skiing has given so much to so many, the 18th Annual Powder Awards sought to honor individuals who give back. The Moving Mountains Award recognized Auden Schendler for his tireless efforts to create meaning policy change regarding climate change. Schendler is Aspen Skiing Company's vice president of environmental sustainability and chairs the board of Protect Our Winters. His work has been credited with influencing change within resorts and corporate policy to address warming trends and what it means for skiing.
"There's a good test to determine if you're being successful on your work on climate: Does it hurt? Are you getting flamed on Facebook, are people mad at you?" Schendler said, noting the importance of people and institutions being fearless in the fight against global warming. "There are people who are emerging who are fearless and they're hanging it out there. Athletes are working on this problem that not just threatens skiing but civilization. It hurts, it's painful, it's dangerous for their careers and reputation, but their doing it anyway. I don't do this work alone. We will succeed, skiing will endure into the future, but we need your help."
Caroline Gleich, one of the most vocal athletes speaking out on the fight for public lands and climate change, accepted top honors for the Powder Poll, where the public votes on their favorite skiers. "Social media is a really funny thing. It can be a nasty place but it can also be a place to find support and community, and that's the same thing with this event tonight," Gleich said. "To be able to ski professionally, to be able to ski at all, it is the ultimate freedom, and such a luxury and privilege. With that privilege comes the responsibility to give back and to make the world a better place. I want to encourage everyone in this room to get vocal."
Photo of the Year
Photographer: Ming T. Poon
Skier: Cody Townsend
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
First Place -- Candide Thovex
Second Place - Cody Townsend
Third Place - Chris Benchetler
First Place - Caroline Gleich
Second Place - Angel Collinson
Third Place - Tatum Monod
Moving Mountains Award
Logan Pehota, Numinous, Dendrite Studios
Tanner Hall, Triumph, Tanner Hall, Corey Stanton, and Tom Yaps
Chris Rubens, Eric Hjorleifson, and Mark Abma, Drop Everything, MSP Films
LJ Strenio, Habit, Level 1 Productions
Best Female Performance
Tatum Monod, Habit, Level 1 Productions
Best Male Performance
Sammy Carlson, To Be, Sammy C Productions
The Tales of Vienna, Seeking Nirvana
Best Post Production
Numinous, Dendrite Studios
The Time Within, DPS Cinematic
2.5 Million, Tyler Wilkinson-Ray
Movie of the Year
Numinous, Dendrite Studios