Over the weekend, more than 1,330 skiers gathered in Denver’s Sculpture Park at the second annual First Chair Festival. Showcasing seven ski films, including Habit by Level 1 Productions, Drop Everything by Matchstick Productions, and the premiere of The Faction Collective’s new film, This is Home, First Chair Festival drew a diverse crowd—three college friends drove through the night from Salt Lake City to Denver; a New Mexico couple made it a stop on their honeymoon after getting married at Taos last weekend; a seven-year-old drug his dad there so they could enter to win a week of heli-skiing.
Sitting in the grass as the sun set over the Rocky Mountains, a skier throttling it down an AK spine on the big screen, I looked around at the sea of people around me. Most of them were strangers, and yet I felt what I always feel surrounded by skiers—community. No matter where we come from, we are part of a community of people all excited about the same thing; We can’t wait to go skiing.
With so much in the world to divide us by highlighting our differences, spending a day unified by something as pure and silly and fun as ski movies was a welcome reprieve. It felt good to direct my passion away from the headlines and issues that make me angry and instead get fired up about something that brings me joy, friendship, and burning quads.
First Chair Festival was a reminder that we’re all in this together—dads, 11-year-old girls, eighth-grade boys hopped up on energy drinks, college freshmen, grandmothers—and for skiers, the best is yet to come. We’re only a few months away from a brand new season of sliding around on snow with our friends and families. In some places, winter will come even sooner.
Ski films help us celebrate our similarities, our common ground as skiers, and they’re meant to be shared. Our columnist David Steele writes more about that here. You won’t get the same feeling watching them alone on your phone. It’s the whoops and hollers, the knowing look of awe you give the person next to you that says, holy shit—skiers are insane, that will give us the energy to make it through the final push until winter.