Summit skier Spriggs talks nomination with Powder Poll awards headed to Aspen
FRISCO — While riding the high of releasing his ski film “The Book of Pow” just weeks ago, John Spriggs of Frisco found out Tuesday that he’s been nominated for Powder Magazine’s Powder Poll awards for his Colorado skiing featured in the film.
The 20th annual Powder Poll asks readers and skiers to choose their top three male and female “representatives of the sport” from a group of skiers chosen by the Powder Awards judging panel.
Reflecting on the honor Wednesday afternoon, Spriggs said he thinks he earned the first-time nomination thanks to the all-around backcountry skiing he, friend and pro skier Taylor Seaton of Avon and filmmaker Edward Clem showcase in the short film.
“I got to revisit places that I maybe skied 10 years ago,” Spriggs said. “We kind of focused on every aspect of backcountry, in terms of deep-powder skiing, skiing pillows, mini-golf lines (short steeps after a big storm). And then we had a big-mountain section where we were hiking, camping big lines. And a jump section. So it’s showing that we love to do all kinds of backcountry skiing available to us.”
This year’s Dec. 7 Powder Magazine awards show is slated for Aspen’s Hotel Jerome rather than Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center, where the show has been hosted in recent years during the annual mid-December Dew Tour week. Dew Tour has moved to Copper Mountain Resort in early February.
Having attended the Riverwalk Center awards show the past couple of years, Spriggs said it’s an honor to be nominated for the first time. It’s a highlight for a ski career that also has included smaller spots in bigger budget Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research ski films.
“The level of riding is right up there with what’s in the other big films right now,” Spriggs said. “So I think that went into (the nomination), as well.”
Despite the much smaller budget for “The Book of Pow” compared to some of this winter’s most highly publicized ski films, Spriggs believes it portrays the dedication and devotion needed to safely seek out, scout and ski all kinds of powder lines in the High Country during last winter’s epic season. It was also an opportunity for him and Seaton to be in the editing room with Clem and have a strong say on what would ultimately make the cut, kind of a true beginning-to-end influence on a passion project.
“I hope that our movie portrays how passionate we are about the sport of skiing, being outdoors, the joy that powder itself — just the substance — brings to our lives,” Spriggs said.
Spriggs said the film’s showstopper might just be the final segment, which was initially scouted in early February, researched further via Google Earth and then hiked to for a follow-up scout in late February. After reaching the top of the line in late March after last winter’s historic avalanche cycle, Spriggs and company decided conditions were ideal enough during a 10-minute window of good natural lighting to drop in for what became the film’s closer.
With his own direct experience of skiing pillows up in Montana and British Columbia — which Spriggs referenced as “the land of a billion pillows” — Spriggs said he is proud the film showcased the quality of local pillow skiing, namely that final segment. In the scene, Spriggs skis a very high consequence 500-foot line deep in the Gore Range, 12-14 miles from an accessible road. The nature of the line’s terrain was that it was so steep that trees, it seemed, couldn’t really grow on a cliff-like face halfway down the line. The zone had enough rocks situated in a certain way to create, with last March’s conditions, almost a backbone of pillow snow.
“It definitely doesn’t look like something you’d see in Colorado,” Spriggs said. “Colorado is kind of forgotten about in terms of backcountry with all the resorts out here and the terrain parks.
“It was just a very technical line where it was basically a pillow line that was on each side, one you couldn’t fall off of,” Spriggs said. “It went straight into the valley floor of trees, so you had to really control your speed. If I fell anywhere on the line, I could have gotten hurt, potentially died. There’s only a few lines, maybe one a season, that conditions have to be perfect. You have to be feeling it, all of these things have to come together at once to ride lines like that and not get hurt.”
For more information on Powder Magazine’s 2019 awards and to vote in the Powder Poll, visit powder.com/powder-awards/vote. Voting ends at 12:59 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 28.
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