Powder Awards

Ski-film industry workers and aficionados raise a toast during the 2013 Powder Awards at Aspen’s Hotel Jerome. The awards ceremony is an annual event celebrating some of the best athletes and filmmakers in the industry. After a few years away, the event returns to Aspen on Saturday, Dec. 7.

In case living in what feels like a snow globe hasn’t properly stoked wintertime passions, Aspen will again claim its rightful place as the host of Saturday’s Powder Awards.

Not since 2013 have the local powderhounds congregated at the Hotel Jerome to celebrate some of the best athletes and filmmakers in the industry. Powder Magazine first moved its annual awards ceremony from the trade shows in Las Vegas to Aspen in 2005, where they’d remain for the next eight years.

But then the party moved farther west, to Salt Lake City, for a few years, explained Powder editor Sierra Shafer. Then it came back to Colorado — not to Aspen, but to Breckenridge.

“We were linked with the Dew Tour,” she said of the reason for the switch in locale. Over the course of those years away from Aspen, the awards ceremonies maintained their character, but the party vibe waned.

“The show will be a little bit different than it’s been. It’s going to be noticeably trimmed down, then we’ll have an on-site party at the Jerome. We haven’t done that the past few years, so it will be fun to have that back, too,” Shafer said, adding that as of press time, nine professional athletes who make appearances in the films will be at Saturday’s event. 

“This year is the 20th anniversary, and I really wanted to bring it back to the best ski town. Aspen, the local community will show up for it. We’re really excited for that,” she said.

While the lifts are running and there are plenty of turns to be had, there’s something special about the palpable energy at a ski-movie screening, Shafer said.

“I think people watch ski movies — to me, that’s like, ‘OK, ski season’s coming,’” she said. “It’s a pretty special part of ski culture. It’s amazing to see the stuff coming out now, especially this year. So many original submissions! Then there’s also the tried and true … it’s exactly what I expected and wanted to see. It really ranges, and it’s exciting for us just to get the industry together.”

The judging panel reviewed “every single clip” of more than 50 submissions for this year’s Powder Awards, Shafer added. 

“We actually hire a professional judging panel,” she said. Judges have bonafide industry chops, whether as an athlete, cinematographer, journalist or industry veteran. 

They’re not the only professionals that have put in the work ahead of time to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. Kelsi Moore, senior events manager at the Hotel Jerome, has been working with Shafer and the rest of the Powder crew for months to ensure every detail is solidified, from bar and food menus to booking the DJ.

“We were able to secure a date, and everything just fell into place. We’ve had weekly conference calls. We have countless amounts of emails back and forth,” Moore said. “It’s been about four months that the contract has been signed, and we’ve been talking even before that. There’s a lot of back work for sure.”

Moore anticipates that all that work will earn a big payoff.

“We’re so excited to have them next week,” she said. “They really wanted to bring it back to Aspen and for sure the Jerome because it is such a special anniversary.”

As for the night itself, “We’ll have a VIP reception party for all the athletes, camera crew and cinematographers. Then we’ll bring everybody into the ballroom for the screening and the awards presentation,” Moore said. “Then after that is completed, we’ll get to have a party and DJ Naka G will come in.”

And in the true spirit of “powder to the people,” tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Belly Up, which will host $5 screenings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of past Movie of the Year winners: Sherpa Cinema’s “All. I. Can.,” Poor Boyz Productions’ “War” and Matchstick Productions’ “Ski Movie 3,” respectively.

“This is kind of the big event of the year when we really acknowledge how much these athletes give to the sport and how hard they work,” Shafer said, adding that while the festivities culminate Saturday at the Hotel Jerome ceremony, the Powder Awards really kicks off with Tuesday’s Belly Up screening. “It’s really meant to be very celebratory for kind of the kickoff of the season and all the work that goes into … that partnership that we all have, just in ski media.”

For those who want a change in venue for their on-screen inspiration, the Wheeler Opera House is screening Warren Miller’s most recent release, “Timeless,” on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Savvy viewers will recognize Aspenite Baker Boyd in Miller’s 70th film.

For those who prefer to take in the stoke from the comfort of home, Faction and Red Bull Media House this morning released their aptly named “The Collective” in its entirety, for free, on YouTube. 

“This has been the culmination of two years of hard work from our producers, production team and athletes,” spokesperson Katie Davis said in an email. “We’ve had insanely positive feedback from the tens of thousands of skiers who have seen the film live, over the course of our 500-stop global screening tour. This is the next huge phase of the project: Share the joy of skiing with the masses, free of charge! We’re darn proud of it.”

Megan Tackett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at megan@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @MeganTackett10.