Stoking the Stoke
Hearing the words “Aspen” and “culture” in the same sentence has a predictable effect on most people. Their minds conjure visions of theater, ballet, orchestras, and art exhibits, that plentitude of refinement that so distinguishes Aspen in the summer months and beyond.
But at some point in autumn (the precise moment is personal; for some it happens as early as September, while others don’t start to feel it till the first snow flies) local thoughts turn to another form of culture, the one that truly defines Aspen for the bulk of the year: the culture of skiing.
Ski culture is best exemplified by those who live it every day, but it also gets creative treatment in movies, music, and product. For the past ten years, the Aspen Skiing Company has helped spotlight all of that and more with the Meeting, a three-day preseason powwow (Oct. 2–4; aspensnowmass.com) at venues including the Wheeler Opera House, Belly Up, and the Aspen Mountain Sundeck. The event draws filmmakers, athletes, and gear companies together to rally around their shared passion.
“In the fall, there’s so much pent-up excitement about the upcoming ski season,” says Deric Gunshor, SkiCo’s event marketing senior manager.
“Everyone’s talking about what type of winter it’s going to be, what skis or snowboard they’re gonna get, what ski pass they’re getting. Bringing movies and athletes to town is a great outlet to channel that energy. It gets people fired up and showcases films that our athletes are in and that are filmed in and around Aspen/Snowmass.”
The inaugural festival, in 2003, was conceived to screen Oakley’s The Community Project, featuring footage of then-breakout snowboarder Travis Rice shredding Buttermilk. (Revisiting the reel shows how sport filming has changed in a decade: “It’s a lot more real-time and interactive” now, says Gunshor.) Sure to stoke this year is the final opus in Teton Gravity Research’s trilogy starring big-mountain freerider Jeremy Jones, and a conference featuring big-timers waxing poetic about their various industry niches.
As the Meeting is a celebration of mountain zeitgeist that encapsulates a season, it makes sense that it kicks off with the crowd-favorite NEPSA (that’s “Aspen” backwards) Video Awards, which fête local filmmakers—or anyone with a Go-Pro and a vision. (2014 themes are Huck Dynasty, Sick Day, and Aspen Problems; submissions are due September 18.)
“As technology has developed for people to film their own segments, the quality has gone through the roof,” Gunshor says. “It’s a cool opportunity to see themselves ski and ride on the big screen at the Wheeler.”