Ski porn pioneer Roger Cotton Brown on fifty years of filming at Vail

What's the heart of that story, in your mind?

Earl Eaton was a local boy from the Squaw Creek area in Eagle County, and he heard Pete Seibert making noise about a ski area and said, "I have a place you might like." He first took Pete to the the top of Vail some time around 1958 and showed him the bowls. He'd grown up hunting around there but they're hidden from the road, so it wasn't like everyone knew they were there. The rest is history, and it's a great story.

The teasers I've seen for your film play up a lot of the contrasts over that 50-year span. What has essentially stayed the same, from your perspective?

The appeal of adventure in the mountains is essentially the same. The mountains have stayed the same, and it's just tremendous terrain. It's gotten easier to ski, of course: when Vail started, powder skiing was more difficult. The big heavy wooden racing skis that I had when I came to Vail in 1962 would dive right into the snow, and unless you were absolutely perfect in your form you were gonna go ass over teakettles regularly. Howard Head brought the first metal skis out to Vail and it really opened the whole thing up, because it was very flexible and rode on top of the snow.

The other thing that made skiing at Vail more accessible is they hired this guy Sarge Brown, another 10th Mountain guy, and when he came in he got really serious about grooming and snowmaking and re-shaping the trails to some degree. It really opened the sport up.

After all the time you've spent editing all that old footage together, what are you most looking forward to about getting this film in front of an audience on Vail's birthday weekend?

The event itself is actually a little scary for me because we had to fit this film into a 56-minute version in the hopes of getting it aired on PBS, and trying to squeeze the whole story into 56 minutes is next to impossible. A lot of great stories and great people are left out, so I may lose some friends over it! We're making a longer cut of the film with a lot of other stuff that the locals will appreciate, so hopefully I'll get to keep my head.

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is that meant to say ski PORN??? 


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