The Powder Highway: a love letter to Kootenay ski culture

Powder Highway producer Vance Shaw is the first to admit his latest ski flick isn't meant to be "the most righteous film ever."

Stu Bilodeau at Panorama in Taynton Bowl. Bilodeau is one of several locals featured in the film The Powder Highway, which plays in Invermere October 7.

Stu Bilodeau at Panorama in Taynton Bowl. Bilodeau is one of several locals featured in the film The Powder Highway, which plays in Invermere October 7.

Powder Highway producer Vance Shaw is the first to admit his latest ski flick isn’t meant to be “the most righteous film ever.”

And while there’s plenty of powder, thanks to some great ski conditions in the winter of 2010-11, the new movie — which gets its Invermere premier this Friday at the Copper City Saloon — has its sights set squarely on the people who love it and ski it season after season.

“We’re pretty passionate about the area,” says Shaw, whose company Vshaw Communications is based out of Revelstoke.

“Really it was just the people we met along the way (that inspired us). We thought we could probably have fun making a movie about the Kootenays.”

Started last summer, the film is a thorough tour of the Kootenay ski scene.

From Rossland’s Red Mountain to Panorama Mountain Village, Shaw and his crew crossed the region, doing their best to experience everything it has to offer.

“We basically did everything you can do skiing here,” he says, “whether it be heli, cat, touring. Anything. All of it.”

In each place, the crew worked with local skiers, telling stories from those in the know.

At Panorama, the crew teamed with locals Stu Bilodeau  and Christina Lustenberger and her family.

“With Invermere, we tried to focus on its race history,” says Shaw.

“Christina and Stu are both in the movie and they’re just really talented skiers. Both of them are at the top level of skiing. It was about them, and we were focussing on the fact that they grew up there. Skiing wasn’t a hobby. Skiing was their life.”

Panorama was also one of the few hills the team hadn’t had a chance to ski before, and Shaw say it held up well against others featured in the film.

“Because it was such a good winter, every place was really good,” he remembers. “It was really good snow.”

With Kootenay ski culture squarely in focus, Shaw says he’s hoping the film will make people in the region appreciate the terrain they’ve got to work with, and the people that ski it alongside them.

“What we were expressing is that this is all out your back door,” he says.

“It’s not a fairy tale ski movie. It’s right there, you can go get it this winter. Anything we did — of course, the heli sking is a budget issue — but the rest of it is quite affordable. And it’s all there.”

The Powder Highway begins at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, and the event is open to anyone 19 or older.

Invermere Valley Echo

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