Eye of the Condor Returns

Fiery Andes mountains, skiing, and Chilean soul

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It started as an unsure idea.

Unsure if a photography/cinematography based competition would develop or be dismissed like a bad photo, director of marketing and sales for La Parva ski resort in Chile, Rodrigo Medina, pitched an idea to the South American resort. Fast forward to August 2011, at the opening dinner of Sony's Eye of the Condor (EOTC).

"I saw some of the big industry names were present," says Medina, "like Seth Morrison, J.T. Holmes, Sean Pettit, Julian Carr, Rachael Burks, Ingrid Backstrom, Tanner Rainville, Sherry McConkey, and Adam Clark and realized we had pulled it off."

Viva Chile! The rich Chilean culture allows a unique flare to this cinematography competition. PHOTO: Roberta Rebori.

La Parva will be home this August 2-9 to EOTC's third and final year of competition. "We consider ourselves innovators," says Medina. La Parva was the first South American resort to host a FWT event in 2009. Then came EOTC in 2011. "We give ourselves new goals," he continues. Looking toward the next great idea for La Parva, Medina promises that this "small ski resort, apart form the world, is putting every effort into this final one event."

Originally, EOTC was going to be called "Andes Photo Media Competition," which is a "super lame name" as Medina notes. During a visit with K2, global marketing manager Mike Powell said to Medina, "well, you guys are pretty into Condors." Later that day, "I was in the shower and 'Eye of the Tiger' was on the radio, and I got it then, 'Eye of the Condor' was going to be the name."

Team Discrete gettin' some during EOTC 2. PHOTO: Chris Bezamat

Medina's lively and innovative spirit led him to want "to make an event that would be different from all other typical ski events," says Medina. La Parva has done just that. The seven day competition takes a mix of skiers and gives them 168 hours to film and edit a segment--minus the time needed to sleep and party. The goal of the edits is to showcase the sport of skiing, the experience, and the influence of the Andes and Chilean culture that surrounds La Parva. As two-year judge Ingrid Backstrom says, she looks for a segment "that makes you want to stop, rewind, and watch it again."

But winning the competition seems to be an afterthought for most teams as the sheer experience tends to outshine prize winnings. The Chilean location provides an undercurrent of majesty. "La Parva has a nice, mystical, magical touch," says Medina.

Icelantic logo against one of La Parva's typically outrageous sunsets. PHOTO: Annelise Loevlie

Annelise Loevlie, the Icelantic global brand manager and member of last year's EOTC winning team, agrees. "The energy of the Andes is some of the coolest I've ever felt," she says. "Physically, they're really craggy and not super welcoming, but at the same time, a lot of legends surround them."

Team Discrete, which competed in the past two EOTC events and is rallying again for the competition's final year, has won the "People's Choice" award for its edit both years.

"Our approach to the movie has been to show the true culture of Chile and La Parva," says Julian Carr, owner and member of team Discrete. "That, and the immense spirit in those mountains and the people connected to the locations."

Team Discrete camping on the peak of La Parva during EOTC 2. PHOTO: Chris Bezamat

Eye of the Condor has the ability to mask the competitive edge with an international love of the skiing experience. Backstrom thinks a lot of the competition's success is a result of its timing.

"During the winter people feel so much pressure to get stuff done. Summer is like a bonus round. People want to have fun and go for it," she says.

Spread Eagle. Crazy Sunset. What more do you need? PHOTO: Chris Bezamat