Locals take turns in snow-flick spotlight
ASPEN The massive blizzard that pounded the Front Range just days before Christmas last year likely will be remembered by those who lived through it for its paralyzing force. Nearly 30 inches of snow in Denver stranded thousands of travelers at the airport, shut down major city roads for days and overwhelmed public services.For Snowmass Village freeskier Steele Spence, it was the perfect storm. Literally overnight, his adopted hometown morphed from a major hub of activity into the ultimate urban terrain park. A window of opportunity had presented itself, and Spence and a tribe of skiers affiliated with Denver-based film company Level 1 Productions seized it with a flourish.We were snowmobiling around in the streets, doing stuff that you would never be able to do, said Spence, a Winter X Games veteran who attends the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver. Just around Denver, we had seen stuff before where someone said, If there was three feet of snow there, you could do a huge drop off that retaining wall. It was crazy.Not surprising, the footage from those strange days in the Mile High City is Spences favorite from Realtime, the new Level 1 offering which screens at 9:55 p.m. Friday at Belly Up Aspen. The film is one of a handful at this years annual ski and snowboard film extravaganza, The Meeting, that features segments from homegrown talent.Spence said he believes Realtime will stand out among a roster of movies produced by some of the industrys biggest names at this weekends festival, and not just because of the footage culled from Denver.The title takes its cue from the theme of documenting the 2006-07 winter in chronological order certainly a twist on an often-formulaic genre.I saw the movie at the world premiere in Boulder, Spence said. People loved the format. Its not the same old thing of having individual segments from skiers.Local snowboarder Doran Laybourn also had a memorable winter last year, but for much different reasons. On Jan. 14, Laybourn collided with a snowmobiler in the Richmond Ridge backcountry area off the back of Aspen Mountain, a devastating accident that left him with a shattered right leg, broken facial bones, facial lacerations and assorted other injuries.Laybourns trying road to recovery is featured in Mongo Productions The Constant Struggle, a feature that takes an even look at the ups and downs snowboarders go through in search of recognition and compensation. The film screens with three others Saturday night starting at 9:55 at Belly Up.Laybourn opted not to go into detail about his segment Thursday, noting that his injuries are a subject he didnt want to delve into again. He did say, however, that he believes the film is a powerful one, if only because of its unflinching look at an unforgiving sport. Throughout the film, various riders depict the highlights and lowlights of their 2006-07 season with voiceovers.Its basically about the underdog and their struggles, said Laybourn, who continues to rehab his right leg and expects to be back riding some time this winter. Snowboarding isnt the easiest thing, thats why its a constant struggle. Theres always something.We wanted to take a different approach, said the films producer, Kyle Clancy. We decided to take it into slightly more of the vein of a documentary, instead of just going out and making another movie. We wanted to show people what its like to actually make a snowboard movie. The theme of struggle is a pretty common one. Each rider has to go through problems. Its definitely positive, though. It ends on a good note.Carbondale freeskier Peter Olenick had some struggles of his own last winter, notably filming in Calgary, Alberta, in November in temperatures that dipped to 40 below.Olenick also shot footage for Poor Boyz Productions Yeah Dude in Sweden, Oregons Mount Hood, northern Californias Mount Shasta and at one of his favorite Colorado resorts, Breckenridge. Olenick said he would be in attendance for the screening of the film Friday at 5 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House.I think my segment in this movie is one of the better ones Ive every had, said Olenick, who took bronze in the superpipe in January at Winter X Games 11 after breaking out his signature whiskey flip (a double backflip). Its also one of the better movies Ive ever seen. Its fun to watch, and its got some funny parts.Olenick said he enjoys The Meeting because it gives skiers and snowboarders a chance to catch up with each other. He cherishes the chance to compare his segments to those of some of his best friends.Its fun to see most of my friends who I didnt see over the summer and have some fun, he said. Theres a little competition to see who has the best film, but as far as athletes, were all there just to have fun.For a complete schedule of The Meeting screenings and other events, go to http://www.aspentimes.com/A&E.