Author William Kerig will talk about big mountains, big dreams Vail
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado “-While average people tend to avoid fear, big mountain skiers and riders’ lives depend on leaning into trepidation ” literally. Leaning backward, away from a 55-degree fall line, means losing their edge and tumbling down; moving their body forward, toward the perilous descent, is the only viable option.
In his book, “The Edge of Never,” William A. Kerig delves into the world of extreme skiers who risk their lives in order to “experience the fullness of life in the mountains.” The story revolves around a trip to Chamonix, France ” otherwise known as the “death sport capital of the world” ” in which Kerig invites 15-year-old up-and-coming skier Kye Petersen to ski the exact couloir that killed his legendary big-mountain-skiing father, Trevor Petersen.
Kerig succeeds in not only portraying a compelling adventure, but also excels at revealing the essence of skiing.
Kerig set out to create a ski film portraying the familial bonds between big mountain skiers, so he contacted icons like Glen Plake and expert guides to accompany him and Kye Petersen to Chamonix. He sold all rights to his treatment to Peter Jennings’ company with the understanding he would produce the film, but when Jennings passed away, Kerig was sidelined. The resulting film, “Steep,” doesn’t include any footage of Kye Petersen, the heart of Kerig’s story. And, so, Kerig wrote a book detailing the birth of his idea, his dealings with Jennings, his interactions with Kye ” an initially reluctant teenager ” the history of Trevor Petersen and, of course, a vivid sidestep-by-sideslip, turn-by-turn account of the adrenaline-charged routes of Chamonix.
In 2008, Kerig purchased the rights to the film footage he shot in Chamonix in 2005, and since then, he has been working to finish the project he first envisioned: “a simple father-son story about Kye and Trevor Petersen,” he wrote in his epilogue. He plans to release the film this fall.
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What’s most fascinating about “The Edge of Never” lies in the different levels on which it’s written. It works simply as a heart-pounding adventure story that any skier or snowboarder would enjoy. But it also addresses deeper reasons people dedicate their lives to skiing. It speaks of developing bonds, facing fear, coming to terms with death, taking responsibility for one’s life and discarding the idea that life is secure.
“It’s a great metaphor for life, especially now, because tomorrow looks like the abyss,” Kerig said in a phone interview, expounding on how themes in his book relate to the difficulty people are facing with a poor economy and other unknowns. “Life’s not about attaining security, because inherently it’s an insecure bargain. … It’s a simple message that I’m actually very passionate about: There’s wisdom in insecurity.”
His call for action: Live life today ” don’t put it off. As he points out, “This is your only crack at it.”
“At the end of the day, everything you love is going to go away. You have to embrace it and enjoy it while you’re here, because you’re going to go away too.”
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What: Author William Kerig talks about the soul of big mountain skiing
Where: Donovan Pavilion, Vail
When: Thursday, 6 to 7:15 p.m.
More information: Call 970-476-0954 or visit http://www.vailsymposium.org