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Man on the medal

Allyn Harvey

The difference is stark.

Two eras. Two filmmakers. Two very different outcomes.

Tuesday night, as part of Aspen History Week, the Aspen Historical Society previewed “Man on the Medal,” a documentary about Dick Durrance, one of America’s and Aspen’s skiing greats.

Durrance represented the United States in the 1936 Olympics. He designed sections of Sun Valley, ran the Alta ski school and was president of the Aspen Skiing Co. before a chairlift had been built.

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He is largely credited with convincing the Europeans to come to Aspen for the 1950 world skiing championships. The event drew racers from more than a dozen countries and vaulted Aspen’s reputation into the league of great international resorts.

Durrance’s work was the foundation that made Aspen the place to be well into the 1990s.

His real love, however, was filmmaking. He and his wife, Miggs, became world renowned for their skill with a camera.

Their films of Aspen in its early skiing years included some of the world’s top racers biting it on Niagra, of kids motoring down the hill, gathering all the speed they can to hit a small jump, of people walking through town, skis over their shoulder, ready to hit the slopes.

The films provided a full picture of the resort and the sport. The people, even racers and movie stars, came across as, well, real.

Contrast that with “The Power of Four,” the Skico-produced promotional film that ran immediately following “Man on the Medal.” “The Power of Four” had amazing production values with great shots of freestyle athletes and X Gamers hucking off cliffs and sticking awesome jumps.

Missing were shots of kids in the terrain park skiing up to the edge of a big ol’ jump and stopping, looking down and then skiing back down the way they came up. Or that woman smiling and trying to sidestep her way back up to the lift after overshooting it. In short, the people like most of us.

My friend and I became bored with “The Power of Four,” mostly because we couldn’t really relate to anyone in it.

Just goes to show, sometimes newer really isn’t better.


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