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Entries in Chris Davenport (12)


Bill Johnson Strikes in Aspen (again) / Hall of Fame Weekend

Chirs Klug Inducted into the Hall of Fame.Have you ever been to Ishpeming, Michigan?  

I didn't think so.  

Ishpeming is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Lake Superior.  It's the birthplace of organized skiing in the USA and the home of the U.S Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.  I've been to the Ish and its worth the loooong ride to get there. It's about 500 miles North of Detroit.   The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame (Ski Hall) is a fascinating collection of artifacts, photos, films and stories about skiing and riding in the U.S.  It's awesome.   A visit to the Ski Hall is a must for anyone who is passionate about skiing.

This past weekend the HOF came to Aspen.  Every Spring the Ski Hall hosts it's skiing history week and induction ceremonies in a different location.  This year the ski community came to Fat City to celebrate their sport, the lifestyle and to facilitate the enshrinement of 7 snow sport legends.

The 7 Inductees for the Class of 2015:

Genia Fuller, David Ingemie, Harry Kaiser, Chris Klug, Jim Martinson, Bob Salerno, Edgar Stern

Their bio's can be found here. 2015 Ski Hall INDUCTEES.  Saturday's big gala induction ceremony held  about 500 people honoring the inductees at Aspen's posh St Regis Hotel.

CLICK 4 PIX:  Bill Johnson Strikes Again / Ski Hall of Fame

Bill Johnson's Family in Aspen to honor him.As part of the festivities  The Ski Hall commissioned video tributes to skiing super-stars STEIN ERIKSEN and BILL JOHNSON.  Both recently passed away But the most moving part of the whole weekend was the tribute and ski lap for Bill Johnson. Wild Bill burst onto the ski racing scene like a bomb.  He was the first American male alpine skier to win an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984. He's still the only American to win the Olympic Downhill.  Click Bill Johnson to learn more.  Johnson had quite a reputation as a non-conformist...but boy could he let his red sleds run.  It's been said that he challenged the entire skiing establishment in 1984...and then he backed it up.  Bill loved Aspen...and Aspen loved him.  Unfortunately he suffered a serious brain injury in a crash during a comeback attempt for the 2002 Olympics. That injury most surely contributed to his death last January at age 55.  

D.B. Johnson...bill's Mom let A.Party wear the GOLD.On Saturday more than 200 friends and family members of the late, great Bill Johnson gathered at the top of Ruthie's Run, at the start of the race course for America's Downhill on Aspen Mountain.  It was the site of Bill's huge World Cup victory in 1984.  A few words were shared...and the group...more than 200 strong skied down the race course together.  At the top of Aztec...the steepest , most technical part of the track...more honors were shared.  Aspen Ski Patrol exploded a 2 pound dynamite charge...BOOM...and the race was on.   At the finish line, marked, just as it was in 1984, the posse of friends grew...Bill Johnson's ashes were sprinkled across the finish.   Tom Kelly from the U.S.Ski Team shared a short speech that began "We're here to honor Bill Johnson"  Ka-BOOM...as if on cue, a giant lightening strike and thunder clap occurred...very close by.  The explosion was louder than the avalanche charge.   The skies opened up to reveal a serious hail storm.  The energy was incredible.  It was other-worldly. Everyone felt it... as if Bill Johnson were with us. I'm not one to fully believe in paranormal experiences...but this one was real and palpable and very fitting.

Just as Bill Johnson's name was invoked...a huge lightning strike occured on Aspen Mountain. Bill was there with us.All the lifts on Aspen Mountain were closed for over an hour due to the storm.  The mountain was deluged with hail, rain and powder snow.  A very unusual weather event even in April.  It was a fitting tribute to Bad Billy Johnson.  His friends and family (including his Mom and kids) retired to Nello to celebrate and toast the life of Mr. Bill Johnson...Olympic Champion.

The Ski History and Induction weekend was a rousing success in Aspen.  The Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame put on a great show. Generations of skiing legends spent the weekend in Aspen charging the steeps and than bragging about it at Apres' As always it was BIG FUN in Fat City.  

We'll see everyone from the Ski Hall next year in Stowe.   Meanwhile...if you happen to be in Michigan's Upper Peninsula...on the way to...I dunno...Northern Wisconsin...stop into the Hall of Fame.   It's a treasure of skiing history.  Oh yeah...and don't leave da U.P. eh? without trying the pasties. 


Three legends in the ski world. Klaus Obermeyer, Billy Kidd and Chris Davenport.Team Klug at Chris Klug's U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction in Aspen.The Kaiser's The First Family of Skiing at Harry's HOF Induction.U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Famers...team pic.Bad Bob Salerno was thrilled to be a Hall of Famer.Genia Fuller and her daughter. Genia was inducted as the first lady of free-styling.





The 5Point Plan is working.

AspenSpin traveled beyond the traffic circle last night to experience the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale for the first time.  5Point is in it's 7th year and all I can say is WOW...it's all grown up and....WOW, why have I been missing this?  A standing room only crowd at the Carbondale Rec Center (CRC) was INSPIRED by an entire slate of tremendous  films covering a vast array of subjects and by the many film makers and athletes in the house.

The brain-child of Julie Kennedy and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, 5Point Film Festival has matured into a fantastic community celebration of cinematic excellence and adventure story telling.  5Point's mission is  "to inspire adventure of all kinds, to connect generations through shared experience, to engage passion with a conscience, and to educate through film".  Based on my first-time at 5Point in beautiful Car-bon-de-lay, it's clear that the 5Point crew deserve a hearty MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

Click 4 pix:  5Point Spin Pix 

SRO at the 7th Annual 5 Point Film Fest. Click for Pix.5Point is clearly more than just the films.  It's about community.  You hear that a lot.  Last night I felt it. I felt a very strong, positive, palpable vibe immediately upon entering the festival grounds.  It was as if anything could happen...and...on screen it did.  It may have been pouring rain outside...but... it's always sunny inside the CRC during the 5 Point Film Fest.  5point is an entire weekend in Carbondale  filled with films, film makers, special add-on events, parties, bike rides, volunteer opportunities etc etc. Many of the events are free and open to the public.   You could've cut the spirit of positivity and camaraderie in that room with a knife. It was a multi-generational affair and the stoke was real.

I did not realize previously...but there are actually 5 Points which are the guiding principals of the festival, hence the name.  The 5 points are displayed prominently through-out.  RESPECT, COMMITMENT, HUMILITY, PURPOSE and PASSION.  

Click: 5 POINT to learn more and to sign up for next year.

Some of the films rolled during the EPIC Saturday Night program hosted by Chris Davenport had special significance to me personally.  While I enjoyed all the presentations, 4 of the movies inspired me and reminded me to take action, move forward, follow my dreams and continue in my attempt to live every day to the fullest.  The 4 films that impacted me most were:

Slomo himself made the scene. Click 4 pix.SLOMO:  Slomo is a 16 minute film by Joshua Izenberg. Slomo is Dr. John Kitchin, 69 a former Doc who lives a minimalistic life pursuing his passion...roller blading (mostly in slow motion and on one leg) along the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, San Diego.   Slomo loves to skate...that's it and he does it with a huge smile on his face every single day.  Ironically for me...I had met Slomo previously in SD. He's a well known character along the beach, a true beach cruiser. I thought he was just another street guy.  Learning the back-story about his previous career as a neurologist completed the virtuous circle for me.  Slomo does what he wants...and he's as happy as a man can be.

Slomo himself attended the screening.  Click to watch:  SLOMO

I AM RED:  Local photographer, film maker and athlete Pete McBride's 4 minute film documents the "hardest working" and "most endangered" river in America...the mighty Colorado.  Maybe you've seen Pete's previous books and film efforts about the Colorado River (Chasing Water).  His work has inspired me to take action in my own life.  The story of "the Grand River's" trials and tribulations and it's failure to flow to the ocean in recent years has made me more aware of our fragile environment and it has inspired me to become more of a conservationist in every day life.  Thanks PETE!!  

McBride was in attendance at 5Point and shared the awesome news that The Colorado's flow in Mexico has actually improved this year...a huge positive.   Click to learn more about I AM RED

Prizefighter Heather "The Heat" Hardy & her trainer Devon Cormack. Click 4 pix.THE HEAT:  Heather "The Heat" Hardy is not your average Mom from Brooklyn.   She's a BIG time prize fighter who is currently 9-0.  Her strength and determination in the ring is a metaphor for her Brooklyn neighborhood's struggle to survive in the after-math of Hurricane Sandy.  I had a brief meeting with Heather "The Heat" and her trainer Devon Cormack in the audience.   She's one part Melanie Griffith in Working Girl and one part Jake LaMotta, the Raging Bull.  She admitted on-stage that "beating everybody up" is her passion.   

Click THE HEAT to see more.

DUCT TAPE SURFING. Pascale lost the use of her legs in a car wreck.  She has never let full paraplegia stop her.   After her accident, she loved to watch her sons surfing in S. Australia. Tyron Swan, a surfing friend her sons had a brain-storm to make Pascale's ultimate dream come true.  Swan  duct-taped Pascale to his back and took her out in the ocean for surf sessions.  "Tando" surf with an extra 40kg on his back appears to be no problem and Pascale's joy is inspirational.

Click to watch Mark Tipple's 4 minute flick  DUCT TAPE SURFING

Huge night at 5Point Film.  AspenSpin loves movies, we love popcorn and Carbondale is super-cool too.  Sign us up for next year at 5 Point.

Click for pix.  5POINT SPIN PIX

3 first class adventurers. Dav, Mike D. and Pete McBride. click 4 pix Folksinger and activist Katie Lee showed her film Damnation. Click 4 pix



The Way of the Shred.

Aspen is a small town with a BIG heart.  Last weekend's early opening was fantastic.  This Saturday's official kick off to the season was the real deal.  The snow base on Aspen Mountain is equivalent to mid-February last year.  The Aspen Mountain ski patrol got busy and opened plenty of new terrain including Bell Mountain and The Glades.  Bro-brahs were straight-lining the Ridge of Bell without fear.  Coverage was good.  The best part...no one was around.  Apparently the opening at  Snowmass drew big crowds.  But Ajax had the goods...and those goods got got.

Click 4 pix: THE WAY of the SHRED

AspenSpin...known for skiing everyday and partying every night managed to squeeze in a couple social events too.  

Muralist, Kate Howe unveiled her latest mixed media creation at Aspen Highlands.  Her beautiful work entitled Almost Time to Ski now permanently adorns the wall of Aspen Highlands locker room.  She's already working on her next piece at Cloud 9 Restaurant on the mountain at Aspen Highlands.  Kate's art along with her expert ski pro-ing, massage and yoga keeps her plenty busy.  Commission her now.

Aspen's native son and U.S. Ski Team member and Olympic hopeful ski racer, Wiley Maple threw himself a fundraiser at Belly Up. Family, freinds, plenty of silent auction items and a screening of Winter, the newest ski porn from The Ski Channel were on the docket.  Unfortunately, Wiley got a bit of bad news yesterday about his troublesome knee.  The Orthopedic Doc's have shut him down for the season.  Heel up soon Wiley.

So it was a great weekend in Aspen.  A super kick-off to hopefully a POW filled season.  We'll see you out on the mountain.

Click for pix.  THE WAY of the SHRED.


Legend of Aahhh's, A True Fable

The Stumper in Aspen., with Kaycee and John & Aimee Oates.The evolution of the ski film is beautifully documented in Greg Stump's latest offering, LEGEND of AAHHHS's.

Stump, the ground-breaking creator of the seminal ski movie Blizzard of Aahhh's has traced the history of extreme skiing and the entire genre of ski filming in is his most recent creation, Legend of Aahhh's.  Own it now, Click:


Stump is generally credited for putting extreme skiing on the map with Blizzard of Aaahhh's,  With help from skiing stars, Scot Schmidt, Glen Plake and Mike Hattrup.  Blizzard of Aahhh's took ski porn to the next level in 1988 with spectacular footage from Squaw Valley and Chaminox and an ear popping sound track...and most importantly a real story.   25 years later, LEGEND of AAHHH's pays homage to those who came before Blizzard and those who have come after it.  Stump includes interviews with ski film pioneers Warren Miller, John Jay, Dick Durrance and others. Skiing legends Schmidt, Plake, Hattrup along with Klaus Obermeyer, Chris Davenport, Mike Douglas, Kim Reichhelm, Lynn Wieland, Geoff Stump and more offer up opinions and commentary spliced in with some of the sickest historical ski footage known to man.  Some of the footage has never been seen before on screen.

Nobody is smoother than Scot Schmidt.Today's top ski filmers from TGR, Matchstick Productions and Level 1 all pay homage to Stump's Blizzard of Aahhh's for influencing their stoke and breaking the trail for the snow movies we see today. Legend of Aahhh's typically includes footage of extremely gnarly steeps, nipple deep pow sessions and huge airs. But it's the story and the history that fascinate me the most.  In Legend we get to meet some of the players in the ski industry.   Stump respects where the industry has been and projects where it is going.  The sound track includes jams from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Liquid Stranger, Trouble Man and more.

I've seen a lot of ski films in my day, but Legend of Aahhh's connects the dots for me.  It gives the viewer a complete overview of the genre.  If there was a class on ski films... Legend of Aahhh's would be required viewing.   A little place called Aspen is proudly represented in the film too. Legend of Aahhh's has a special place in my heart because I've met many of the stars and I was with Greg Stump in Aspen while he was filming some of the scenes. I got to see a rough cut... plus I got to party with everybody.  Thats just icing on the cake. See my post from 2010   ASPEN PARTY WARS     Blizzard of Aahhh's is my favorite ski film of all time...and Legend of Aahhh's honor's the entire ski world  and what might just be the most perfect ski flick.  

LEGEND of AAHHH's.  (click to buy).


Shredding in June on Independence Pass

About to embark. June skiing on Independence Pass.When I grew up in suburban Detroit, watching Leave it to Beaver, going to public school, taking piano lessons on Tuesday's and bowling on Saturday's I never thought I'd be skiiing in June.  Skiing in June never even crossed my mind. When I was sitting on the trading floor at Morgan Stanley in NYC... Summer skiing wasn't even on my radar.  Things have changed.

Shredding in June: Click 4 pix. Photos by Mike Jahn.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think I'd be "earning my turns" by hiking up to peaks above the tree line...in June??  So as life evolves...so too does one's bucket list.  Skiing in June on Independence Pass on the Continental Divide was not even on my list...but I'm thrilled to have experienced it first hand on a picture perfect, cloudless day in the Colorado Rockies.

It all turned out to be fairly mellow...but when one embarks into the back country you never know what can happen.  "Know before you go" is a good rule of thumb so I  wanted a scouting report from a knowledgeable source.  I consulted my pal Chris Davenport, perhaps the foremost expert on ski mountaineering in the World today.  Chris, along with Aspen Locals Ted and Christy Mahon are completing their Centennial mission of hiking and skiing the 100 highest peaks in Colorado.  Dav assured me that "it's a great year to ski in June".  He encouraged me by saying the current avalanche danger up on Independence Pass was "low".  He suggested a route called Mountain Boy as a good "starter trail".  

After getting the thumbs up from Dav.  I proceeded directly to The Red Onion for happy hour. The crew at Red Onion... Jordan White, Colter J. Hinchcliffe and "baller" Brad Unglert are all sponsored ski pros with BIG mountain credentials.  They could share good intel about Independence Pass.  When I asked Jordan, the most even-keeled of the three, if he'd been up on Mountain Boy...he answered "yeah, we did it this morning".  How was it?, I asked.  "Awesome...fresh POW". Really?  I was sold.  The boys reinforced my desire to hike and ski the pass by describing the route and drawing me a little map on a napkin.  Then they told me to "go get some".

To find a suitable partner, I turned to Match.com...ummmm... I mean twitter. My first first tweet was to Aspen Local Mike Jahn who had previously led me up Colorado's highest peak, Mt. Elbert last Fall.  That experience was a great one.  Perfect day, looooooooooong hike, summitting before 1 followed by tacos in Leadville.  

Good news.  Mike was up for skiing the pass on Saturday. I rented a peeps (avalanche beacon) at Ute Mountaineer and bought a fresh battery at Carl's.  I was planning to hike in my regular alpine ski boots and carry my skis on my back, forgoing AT gear and skins.  "Get up there early"  Damon the guy at Ute said.  "you don't wanna start post hole-ing".  For those who have never post-holed...its when your ski boot breaks through the soft snow while walking...some times up to your hip...its never a positive.

Almost at the summit of Mountain Boy.Damon's words "get up there early" were ringing in my ears as I hit the sack.

Heading out for a new adventure always makes me tingle with excitement.  I sleep with one eye open in anticipation of the day.  Even though I set my alarm, I didn't need it.  I was especially obsessed with time on this trip because of the way the sun can affect the snow conditions. Ideally we wanted to hike on the hard-packed snow, still frozen from the night before and time the decent to coincide with smooth, creamy, sun drenched corn-POW.  It's a fine line and the timing is relevant to safety and enjoyment. While Mountain Boy is hardly Mt. Everest, I had a recollection from Into Thin Air...how a late start had cost everybody dearly.

We were set to take off at 7 am.  I was packed with the dog walked and my FB status updated...and it was only 6.15.  Anticipation, annticippaaaayytion is making me wait.   Mike...(I'm gonna go out on a limb & say)...is not a morning person.  Especially after a BIG Friday night with his lady...so he was running a wee bit late.  Me, I had everything totally together as I waited at our pre-arranged meeting spot.  Totally ready....except for one small detail...I forgot my camera battery.  Whaaaaaaat? 

It was a strikingly beautiful, absolutely clear, bluebird Aspen morning. 33 degrees in town when we set off.  A short switch-backing drive got us to the parking lot at the summit of Independence Pass around 8. We were not alone.  There were about 20 other skiers milling about, buckling their boots and getting ready.  The small crowd dispersed in several different directions.  Mountain Boy was the most popular route.  It's East-facing and gets the morning sun...so you want to hit that one first.   For the record.  I was clearly the least granola person up there.

Let's do this!!!

The Maroon Bells shine in the distance. Click 4 pix. Photos: Mike JahnMike boot-packed it with me, and we kept up a decent pace.  We summited Mountain Boy  (12,800 ft) after hiking about an hour.  As a frame of reference the Mountain Boy hike is longer than Aspen Highland Bowl but not as steep.  The run set out before us looked sweeeet.  It had snowed about 4 inches two nights previously.  Laid out in front of us was a HUGE untracked (mostly) powder field.  The run had not yet been baked...it was absolutely perfect "cream of corn" conditions.

A quick little jump turn off the cornice at the top was required...that's where I usually yard sale.  Not this time, I stomped the entry...and it was on. The best thrill ride of the Summer.  Conditions on Mountain Boy were absolutely stellar. It was like spreading cream cheese on a warm toasted bagel.  One turn after another.  The only sound was that of my own slough.  I stopped and waited in a safe zone as Mike flawlessly ripped his run.  Postal Jim...you know the guy from the post office and his buddy Cortland skied next. We watched.

At the bottom, we were all getting ready to hitch hike a ride back to the summit where our cars were parked.  That's when a fellow shredder, Tom pulled up in his truck and said "u guys can jump in the back".  So we rode back up to the top in style in the bed of his pick-up.  Postal Jim  had toted one can of beer with him the whole way.  He popped the top and we all took a celebratory swig.  Best beer ever.

Next on the agenda 4th of July Bowl on 4th of July.  See ya there.

Shredding in June:  Click for pix by Mike Jahn

Mountain Boy...we hiked it and skied it. Perfect Summer Skiing. Click 4 pix.

The top half of Mountain Boy. Sweet shredding in June on Independence Pass.


We did it!!! Mountain Boy at Independence Pass. We hiked it & skied it. A.Party & Mike Jahn. Click 4 pix.