Filmmakers target corporate ski industry |

Filmmakers target corporate ski industry

Bob Berwyn
Summit Daily/Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY – Once upon a time, skiing was a pure and simple athletic endeavor. But the essence of the sport is in danger, according to filmmakers Hunter Sykes, Darren Campbell and Steven Siig. The trio visited Summit County recently to film several segments and do interviews for a ski industry documentary they say will examine the effects of corporate ownership on the sport and the mountain communities sustained by resorts. “It’s an empowerment film,” said Sykes. “We want to show what people can do to get involved.””The biggest issue from our perspective,” added Campbell, “is raising public awareness about ski area motives and the impacts on the landscape.”The documentary could be something along the lines of the book, “Downhill Slide,” by Hal Clifford, an expose of the ski industry that’s frequently cited by industry critics but loathed by ski industry executives.

The trio hopes to take the film on a mountain road trip next winter, showing it in the very communities that are affected the most by consolidation and absentee ski-area ownership. They hope to partner with groups like Colorado Wild and the Sierra Club to sponsor local showings, Sykes said. “We’re hoping to just make our money back,” Sykes said. The filmmakers are funding the documentary.They say they’ll focus on Mammoth Mountain, Calif., where a corporate takeover is still in progress. Longtime owner Dave McCoy recently sold his remaining interest in the resort, opening the door for the real estate development economic model that is already common at Colorado’s major resorts.”We hear people saying, all over the place, we don’t want to become another Vail,” said Campbell, who like Sykes earned a masters degree in international environmental policy at the University of Colorado. Both men have worked for Vail Resorts on and off over the years.Cameraman Siig has worked on several other recent ski-oriented movies with well-known Matchstick Productions. He said he was eager to work with Sykes and Campbell on something that goes a little deeper than just showing sprays of powder and cliff jumping in Alaska.

The Summit County segments include an interview with Ryan Demmy Bidwell, director of Colorado Wild, a ski industry and Forest Service watchdog group, and with local Sierra Club leader Karn Stiegelmeier.Demmy Bidwell says he hopes a documentary will show people how they can get involved during the early stages of resort development, when there’s still a chance to influence projects. “I think a lot of people in mountain communities in the West are getting sick of more and more high-end development at the expense of quality of life,” he said.”Part of the whole idea of making the film,” Campbell said, “is making people aware of the choices they’re making when they go skiing, as to where their money is going.”==========================================

Under constructionThe group’s Web site,, is being built. More information will be available there in the future. ==========================================Vail, Colorado

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