If it were possible to harness the energy found in a mountain town come premiere season, winter utility bills might cease to exist. Until the Meeting, a celebration of snow film and culture in Aspen, Colo., there wasn't an event quite like this that brought the ski and snowboard industries together before the start of the winter season.
The three-day event, which wrapped up on Sunday, brought filmmakers, athletes and industry personalities to Aspen for film screenings, seminars and extracurricular activities.
"The biggest change this year was stacking meetings on Friday," says Deric Gunshor, Aspen/Snowmass Event Manager who founded the Meeting six years ago. In past years, seminars were spread out throughout the weekend.
Though repetitive of themes in years past, the three sessions (Olympics, sustainability and social media) served their purpose of promoting dialogue and offering fresh perspectives. At a panel session titled "The Olympic Dream is Reality," panelists including Mike Jankowski, the head coach of U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing, Chris Jerard, cofounder of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, and Tricia Byrnes, We are Snowboarding (WAS) athlete advocate and TTR board member, spoke on the inclusion of ski superpipe and ski and snowboard slopestyle in the 2014 Olympics.
On the ski side, Jerard said, "We want to make sure judging standards are accurate and consistent and judging doesn't kill the freedom of the sport ... Foremost, we want to take the athletes' voice to the powers that be and create a happy coexistence. So far, it's been positive dialogue." On the snowboard side, Byrnes said, "The Olympics reshapes everything you do. It's not just contests, it becomes two years of getting FIS points and competing and then you have this Olympic hangover after focusing on a goal for so long. "
Twelve films screened in three nights at the historic Wheeler Opera House, in the Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain and at the Belly Up Aspen. Two films appeared to steal the show -- "Art of Flight," the groundbreaking snowboard film from Red Bull Media House and Brain Farm Digital Cinema, and "The Ordinary Skier," an Oakley/1242 Productions documentary on Seth Morrison.
It was the first Meeting for Standard Films' producer Waide Hoyt, who screened his 20th film from the legendary Totally Board Series, "TB20." "It feels good to be valued and taken care of," said Hoyt. "We've done a lot of festivals -- from Newport Beach to Banff -- and Aspen/Snowmass really takes care of you above and beyond."
Though freeskiing pioneer Mike Douglas only attended one day of the Meeting, he managed to pack in more than a good portion of attendees combined. "It's so good to connect with the ski world outside the hectic schedule of winter," Douglas said.
The highlight of Seth Morrison's weekend in Aspen? "Seeing all the excited people ready for the upcoming season," Morrison said.