Wiped Out

Given the number of serious snowmobile accidents this year I was not surprised to see Chris Brown’s recent comments on Rob Alford’s face book page – http://tinyurl.com/4vj44ff . Unfortunately Chris was beaten up pretty bad in a snowmobile wreck earlier this year so it is understandable that he would begin to question his own behavior and as well, try to prevent other riders from enduring a similar experience. Unfortunately I fear that Chris’ words will fall on deaf ears and despite the heartfelt plea – it is probably best that he save his strength and focus on his own recovery and health. I’ve been there and tried that!

I remember the disappointment and overwhelming dismay I experienced following my first viewing of a ‘Sled Necks’ video in 2003. Despite the fact that we shot, produced and released our first Boondockers video in the winter 2002 we had no idea that there were any other snowmobile movies available. We honestly thought that we had introduced an entirely new genre of film to the winter action sport scene so you can imagine the excitement and anticipation we experienced when we discovered our competition, ordered their video and awaited the arrival of Sled Necks 3. And to really appreciate the suspense you should also understand that we had only recently made the transition from skiing to sledding and were accustomed to the relief that Warren Miller and Greg Stump’s ski video’s brought to a long summer season. Unfortunately, where the video offerings of the ski community built anticipation for the upcoming season – Sled Necks was littered with horrible crashes, near amputations and a brutal reality check that clearly defined the consequences when things went bad.

At that moment I vowed to make certain that our videos would be different. Up until that point the only thing that differentiated the latest snowmobile video was the extremity of the action portrayed by the riders. The film’s own producers provided very little creative input and so the expectation and responsibility was passed on to the rider to push their limits higher, further and harder. If anyone remembers ‘Boondockers 2 Tangly' you will recognize our efforts to attract an audience with what we considered to be something more substantial – a theme based video that introduced an entirely different genre to the film industry and its audience. We heralded the sport instead of the individual rider, we injected an element of humour and even offered a tribute section to the great Warren Miller himself.

Unfortunately we were wrong. Despite our many efforts on the sales tour (We hit 15 shows that fall and developed an online community of over 10,000 fans) – the video simply didn't sell like we thought they would. It seems that the snowmobile community displays a terribly morbid sense of curiosity that wants to watch Jay Quinlan nearly decapitate himself in his back flip attempts; will talk forever about Kaufman’s leg injury and takes great delight when yet another sled tumbles down a steep slope side with parts flying everywhere.

Of course the back flip is also pretty commonplace these days so while we might want to try and rein in the action – the fact remains that the customer is always right and this is the way that sports advance themselves. The best I can suggest is that junior and beginner riders recognize the time that professional riders invest in their craft. Remember these guys started out small (check out the first Sled Necks video some time) and worked their way up to the bigger hits. Furthermore, many of the sports founders started out as professional skiers and snowboarders who were accustomed to winter conditions and were simply using the sled to access the back country. Riders like Rob and BJ, Dan Gardiner and Burandt (who you might note is retired from the monster hits) have invested an enormous amount of sweat equity that the audience and junior riders don't necessarily acknowledge or understand. These guys ride every day. They are talented athletes who perform at the peak level, they probe landings, they are in perfect shape and they are completely intimate with the terrain (often hiking hundreds of kilometers during the summer season to scope a hit). They are professionals and while they might not make much money – they are certainly willing to pay whatever price it takes to play!

Reality TV? Forget the tattoos and let me tell you a story about this scar!

BTW: I recently discovered a box of ‘Boondockers 2 Tangly’ videos in our Newfoundland office. If you’d like to make a donation for Chris’ recovery fund we will send you a free copy. It’s still a great bit of fun that provides endless hours of entertainment for all ages

Sweat Your Brains Out!
-Andrew McCarthy

PS- If you would like to donate to Chris Brown recovery fund, here is the information:

Chris Brown Recovery Fund
C/O John Kerst
Yampa Valley Bank
P.O. Box 775770
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477

Or through Pay Pal by sending to…

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