The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center has been working with disabled veterans and active service military personnel throughout its history. It is fitting, then, that their first annual screening of a Ski Channel film highlights a group of "wounded warriors" making their way to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, led by Kirk Bauer, Head of Disabled Sports USA, of which BOEC is a national chapter. The BOEC is a national leader in outdoor adventure education, focusing on individuals with disabilities and special needs.
The film "Winter" is a feature-length who's who film of world class ski athletes, following them around the globe as they push the limits of the sport and their own personal limitations - something the athletes of the BOEC are very familiar with.
This is the second annual Ski Channel Film Tour; it launched in January and will play in dozens of host cities around the U.S. The film took more than a year to compile in approximately 100 locations worldwide. In addition to Bauer and his ascent of Tanzania's 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, also featured is skier and base jumper Karina Hollekim who was badly injured in a sky-diving accident, and her story of survival and recovery is documented in the film. "Winter" also features freeskiing pioneer and four-time X Games gold medalist Sarah Burke, who passed away in January after a tragic accident training for the Superpipe competition in Utah.
"Winter tells a story," said the Ski Channel's Meagan Van Dyke. "It allows you to connect with the characters on an emotional level that no other film does. Sure, many ski films are beautiful visually, but 'Winter' inspires and takes the audience through an epic journey of how these athletes push it to the limit on a daily basis. We had so many people come to us after the film and tell us they wanted to get on skis, or they wanted to learn to paraglide or even ride a unicycle. 'Winter' is mesmerizing in both the way it's shot and what it depicts."
Other featured athletes in the film include Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety, world record holder Simon Dumont, Rory Bushfield, Sean Pettit, Melissa Arnot, Johnny DeCesare, Jen Hudak, Julian Carr, Sen. Bob Dole, Phil Mahre, Steve Mahre, Andy Mahre, Mike Wilson, Kris Holm, Ted Davenport, Chip Hildebrand and Matt Reardon.
"This year's film is a nonstop thrill ride," said Steve Bellamy, Ski Channel Chairman and CEO, who wrote and directed the project. "Viewers journey to the top of Everest, they look over the edge of insane ski descents, they fly like a bird and they hear first-hand why these people assume these risks. The stories are not always pretty and don't always end well, but there is hardly anything on screen that isn't jaw-dropping or mesmerizing. And although the film is a deep narrative, it sits on a bed of high-octane."
That "deep narrative" takes viewers through a history of U.S. skiing, delving into the story of 10th Mountain Division soldiers who helped secure U.S. victory in World War II and came home to create many of Colorado's most famous ski resorts. Bellamy attempts to capture the quirky and astonishing world of extreme mountain sports and its participants, including mountain unicyclist Kris Holm riding the lip of a 2,500-foot cliff and mystifying stunts by Julian Carr and Rory Bushfield. Last year's Ski Channel film was entitled "The Story," winning awards at 12 film festivals.
The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) is playing host to the Ski Channel Film Tour "Winter" at 8 tonight. Tickets to the event are $15, with all proceeds benefiting the BOEC. All seats are general admission and doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased at the Breckenridge Welcome Center and at the door.
The event will be emceed by local radio personality Jen Radueg, who has lived in Summit County for 14 years and been with NRC365 for eight years. The event is sponsored by the Town of Breckenridge, KSMT "The Mountain" and the Summit Daily News.
The BOEC was founded in Breckenridge in 1976 to provide outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and to train instructors who work with special populations. They strive to integrate disability with ability in successful experiences in the wilderness, rivers, ski slopes, and other outdoor classrooms. BOEC works with a diverse range of populations including those with mental and physical disabilities, serious illnesses, disabled veterans, at-risk youth, and other special needs groups.