The annual Powder Awards sponsored by Powder Magazine are winter action sports' top honors for Winter Action Sports Films and Professional Skiers and Snowboarders. This year, big mountain professional skier Cody Townsend won three awards – best male performance, best line and full throttle awards.
The Best Line of the Year award was an incredible run in the Alaska Tordrillos mountains last winter. He skied though an extremely narrow chute between two huge rock walls at warp speed.
Mountains are inspiring and for big mountain skiers they there is no greater thrill than seeing a magical decent, imagine yourself skiing it, and then going to attempt to ski it. Townsend's decision to ski this long, narrow chute was the culmination of many elements and the result was one of the most epic ski descents ever captured on video.
The decent can be seen in the new MSP Film "Days of My Youth" and the line was an accomplishment on several levels.
He had to drop in from the peak off of a narrow spit of snow. He had to line himself up perfectly as the narrowest part of the chute was in the last quarter of the run. And not knowing the snow conditions added to the danger.
"It got really scary in the middle of the chute," Townsend said. "The snow was a bit firm which only increased my speed."
Upon exiting the chute, he had to control his speed and start to navigate the cliffs and exposure below.
"It's the sort of line I had been looking to ski for a long time. To do the ultimate straight line has been a goal of mine. I have been in this zone before several years ago but hadn't noticed it. This time when I saw it I knew it had to be done."
Today's ski equipment has allowed skiers like Townsend to push the limits like never before. A line like this was not skiable 10 or so years ago. The accomplishment is a combination of his skiing ability, his commitment to the fall line, and his athletic ability to remain balanced and calm at those speeds.
He made it look easy, and as he started arc turns after exiting the chute, you get a real sense that he was in total control the entire time.
The view from his POV camera adds to the thrill, and brings the viewer along for a run of a lifetime.
Follow Dan Egan on Twitter at @skiclinics.