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Monday, October 10, 2011
Nontraditional movie awards, Part 1

By Megan Michelson
ESPN.com



Ski Movie Awards Snowboard Movie Awards Fan Vote

[Over the next four weeks, we will be giving out awards to some of our favorite new ski movies. This is Part 1 of the series. Be sure to place your pick for your favorite films on our Fan Voting page.]

Meathead Films' "Prime Cut" gets the award for being the kind of ski film you want to watch on a couch, with your buddies, while eating a bowl of chili. Let me explain.

In the machismo world of ski films, no movie wants to be called charming. So for using that word, Meatheads, I'm sorry. It's not like "Prime Cut" doesn't have plenty of action to solicit manly, fist-pumping cheers from the audience. It most certainly does, including Chris Logan's Japanese pillow lines, POV tree-skiing at Jay Peak, and LJ Strenio's impressive final urban segment. But still, the film has this hometown, salt-of-the-earth vibe that I simply can't help but describe as charming.

Take the narration, which is done by Meatheads co-founder Chris James, who chronicles the crew's humble beginnings as students at the University of Vermont to 10 years later and their current status as the best (and only) ski film company focused on the East Coast. "It's the people we film with, the legendary characters we've met, and the spirit of camaraderie that have motivated us along the way," James says. That's down-home goodness, right? Makes you want to eat some home-cooked chili (the opening scene in a butcher shop may add to that hunger as well).

The film doesn't look low-budget -- the cinematography and editing are fully professional -- but besides a trip to Japan, the whole thing was shot within a few hours' radius of the Meatheads' Burlington, Vt., home base and film techniques include winches and skins, not helicopters. It features archival footage from the Meatheads' 10 years in business, including some comic relief from legendary characters Radio Ron and The Hammer. The segment on the Green Mountain Freeride crew of brothers Lars and Silas Chickering Ayers and the late Ryan Hawks will make you want to give your buddy on the other couch a big hug.

And unlike other films that seem to be created purely to prove the invincibility and utter radness of the featured athletes, "Prime Cut" offers a sense of humanness, of humility. The film includes groin-crushing rail slides, bloody faces, ice-rink-like snow conditions, bump skiing and fluorescent one-pieces -- all things your average meat-eating jock from New Jersey might experience on a ski trip to Vermont. It's downright relatable. Ah, there we go. That's a better word choice than charming.