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Dave O'Leske - Spirit of Snow
This film is an appreciation of backcountry skiing directed and produced by Dave O'Leske. Most of the people and scenes in the film are from Colorado. The film features voice commentary from the following skiers. (Unfortunately, these skiers are not identified until the end of the film.)
The film opens with scenes of mountain scenery and the featured skiers describe the appeal of backcountry skiing. A bit of ski history is included, starting with pre-historic skiing in Central Asia and Scandinavia and moving to North America in the mid-1880s. Skiing as a sport came of age in the western U.S. after World War I. This section of the film is illustrated by black and white still photos. The featured skiers describe early ski gear.
- Earl Clark, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division in World War II.
- Dick Durrance, the top American ski racer in the 1930s.
- Delores LaChapelle, a pioneer of powder skiing in the 1940s and advocate of deep ecology.
- Inga Prime, the first female certified ski instructor in Sweden.
- Jerry Roberts, a Colorado avalanche forecaster and snow safety consultant.
- Erik Schultz, who was paralyzed in a skiing accident and runs a foundation that promotes environmental conservation and disabled recreation and therapy.
Earl Clark discusses the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, which unlike other army units was united by a common love of the mountains. Jerry Roberts discusses avalanche awareness, early forecasting and education. He observes, "Education teaches you the rules; experience teaches the exceptions to the rules." There are scenes of touring and climbing and a harrowing scene of Erik Schultz tumbling down a steep couloir, during which he broke his T4 vertebra and was partially paralyzed. He continues to ski on a specially made sled. The final scenes of the film depict powder skiing set to music.
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