words & photos by Julie WeinbergerUnless there is enough snow on the ground to ski, there is no better way to begin the season than with a few days of partying and watching ski and snowboard movies with people from all walks of the snow sports industry. Since all of you right coasters got your fill at IF3 a few weeks ago, those of us on the other side got ours this past weekend with The Meeting.

All the NEPSA entrantsThe event kicked off Thursday night at the Wheeler Opera House with the NEPSA awards, a contest designed for amateur film makers to show shorts they have put together that include skiing and a certain theme. This year's theme was 'transition.' There were 15 entries, 10 of which hit the screen, competing for $3,500. All were impressive, and did a solid job of conveying the theme. Whether the film showed the changing of the seasons or the evolution of one's skiing career, the packed house was stoked on all of them. Mark and Paul Stover, last year's runners up, took first place playing off daydreaming about skiing while in detention. Pat Sewell's film, a goofy spoof about attitudes of professional skiers, was also a crowd favorite.
The fashion showFollowing NEPSA, the party headed over to Belly Up for a fashion show put on by D&E Ski and Snowboard Shop. It was a little weird. The male models were trying to act all gangster, and they just looked ridiculous to say the least. Half the time, the women weren't even modeling ski gear. Instead, they were wearing booty shoots. While Peter Olenick enjoyed this (he was trying to get kisses from the models), their attire didn't exactly fit the idea of the show.
Peter, they are models, not strippers.Then on Friday, it was time to watch some movies and finally use my Target wristband that entitled media and athletes to all the Budweiser and Red Bull Vodkas we could handle. When I picked up my credentials on Thursday, I had no clue this wrist band yielded such power.
Cheers!The libations began to flow around 4:30 p.m. when Idea and Yeah Dude played at Wheeler, followed by Mack Dawg's Picture This and We Are People Too! I'm not going to talk about the ski flicks as everyone on here has already beaten them to a bloody pulp. And, I cant tell you about We Are People Too! because I missed it to go see Real Time at Belly Up. So, I'm just going to say that if you havent seen Picture This, go see it. The camera angles and shot selection are phenomenal. It almost has a Hollywood feel to it.
Packed house for Level 1 and RageAnyway, after Real Time at Belly Up we got to see Enjoy. The bar was packed. Because it was a bar, however, it was tough to sit still and watch the movies. No worries, though. With just about the entire Level 1 crew on hand and a slew of other ski industry personnel abound, the evening was full of drunken debauchery and silliness. Cunnin' Lynguists also performed in front of a packed crowd of mostly underage kids. Ironic.
Cunnin' Lynguists After waking up ridiculously early on Saturday morning for no reason at all, a few friends and I decided to take advantage of the fall foliage and took a voyage up to Aspen Highlands to stumble around and get some nice pictures of the Maroon Bells. With snow on the high peaks and golden leaves, our little trip really showed us that winter is almost here, turning our hungover frowns upside down.
The Maroon Bells looking lovelyThen, it was time for more movies and more Red Bull Vodkas. And, snow was falling for the first time in downtown Aspen. The Absinthe and Standard Films movies hit the screen at Wheeler followed by Lost and Found and Believe. As I sat next to Pep Fujas during Lost and Found I realized how special our sport is. Seeing Pep smile throughout the movie and support his fellow skiers amongst a crowd of industry types, pros and regular people is something most sports don't offer. The crowd was so excited about the movies, and the pros were equally amped on the crowd's enthusiasm.
Eric Pollard, Andy Mahre, Pep Fujas and Eric Iberg introduce IdeaAfter those movies, it was time for another evening at Belly Up with more of the same. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I felt like I had just gone for a long run in my sleep or something from all that damn Red Bull. Successful weekend? Check!On my three-plus hour drive back to Boulder, I had the chance to reflect upon the forum sessions that also took place over the weekend discussing music licensing in action sports, sponsorship and competitions. Freeskiing events were discussed a lot, along with television ratings and how skiercross got into the Olympics, but pipe did not. Tanner was very vocal about pipe not getting in, saying USSA didn't make a big enough push.
Tanner and Simon making pretty faces for the cameraOne TV guy was talking about how ratings go down the tubes as soon as they switch to a lifestyle segment. We always complain about how lame these are, and for good reason. Tanner asked the guy why they don't bring in the athletes to produce these segments. The athletes know what other skiers want to see. The guy was bewildered, and didn't seem to get Tanner's point at all. If they're not going to make these segments better, and they already know they suck since ratings go down, why even show them in the first place?
Sammy Carlson and Seth Morrison signing some postersFrom there, the competition forum went onto talking about how maybe freeskiing events aren't meant for TV, and that other mediums should be better utilized. The TV people's point here was that they'e focused on such a small audience since freeskiing is a small sect of the sport. Sure freeskiing is small. Snowboarding was small, too. So was surfing. So was skateboarding. Not a valid argument. Perhaps a better one would be that skiers dont watch ski events that are on in the middle of the day because they are, gasp, out skiing. Regardless, I guess the point is that freeskiing isn't reaching that broader audience that snowboarding, for example, gets. Clearly, that's a marketing issue, and maybe the people in such positions should take a look at the surfing model.
Sammy, Simon, Tanner and Michael Anyway, this is getting long, and while I could go on forever, you ADD folk are probably about ready to kill me. So, here are just a few little tidbits from the event:--Peter Olenick got sucker punched.--The bar tenders at Wheeler refused to serve booze 10 minutes before the movie.--The police in Aspen have baseball-like cards of themselves. They were handing them out at Belly Up for some reason.Word up to Melissa Rhines and Ryan Miller from Aspen/Snowmass for putting on another great event, to the waiter at Takah Sushi for the endless supply of Purple Haze sake at dinner on Friday and to Ullr for finally letting it snow a little bit here.