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Ski industry documentary to feature Summit segment

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Bob Berwyn
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Once upon a time, skiing was a pure and simple athletic endeavor. But the essence of the sport is in danger, according to filmmakers Hunter Sykes, Darren Campbell and Steven Siig, who visited Summit County recently to film several segments and interviews for a ski industry documentary they say will examine the effects of the corporate ownership model on the sport and the mountain communities it sustains.”It’s an empowerment film,” said Sykes. “We want to show what people can do to get involved.””The biggest issue from our perspective is raising public awareness about ski area motives and the impacts on the landscape,” said Campbell.

The documentary could be something along the lines of the book, “Downhill Slide,” by Hal Clifford, an expose of the ski industry that’s frequently cited by industry critics but loathed by ski industry executives.The trio hopes to take the film on a mountain road trip next winter, showing it in the very communities that are affected the most by the current trend toward consolidation and absentee ski area ownership. They hope to partner with groups like Colorado Wild and the Sierra Club to sponsor local showings. “We’re hoping to just make our money back,” Sykes said, explaining that the effort is self-sponsored for now. For a large part, they say they’ll focus on Mammoth Mountain, Calif., where the corporate takeover is still in progress. Long-time owner Dave McCoy recently sold out his remaining interest in the resort, opening the door for the real estate development economic model that is already common at Colorado’s major resorts.

“We hear people saying, all over the place, we don’t want to become another Vail,” said Campbell, who like Sykes earned a masters degree in international environmental policy at the University of Colorado. Both men have worked for Vail Resorts on and off over the years.Cameraman Siig has worked on several other recent ski-oriented movies with well-known Matchstick Productions. He seized at the chance to work with Sykes and Campbell on something that goes a little deeper than just showing sprays of powder and cliff jumping in Alaska.The Summit County segments include an interview with Ryan Demmy Bidwell, director of the ski industry and Forest Service watchdog group Colorado Wild, as well as with local Sierra Club leader Karn Stiegelmeier.Demmy Bidwell says he hopes a documentary will help show people how they can get involved in resort development issues at an early stage of the public process, when there’s still a chance to shape proposals.

“I think a lot of people in mountain communities in the West are getting sick of more and more high-end development at the expense of quality of life,” he said.”Part of the whole idea of making the film is making people aware of the choices they’re making when they go skiing, as to where their money is going,” Campbell said.More information on the film will be available on an as-yet unfinished website at http://www.coldstreamcreative.com.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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