Champs & Chumps – Spring 2016

 Industry is a sticky wicket. One the one hand, we like stuff, we consume freely, and we value innovation. On the other, we decry greed, despise arrogance, and denounce business as usual. With that in mind, we present the next installment of Champs & Chumps. 

Every winter for the past dozen or so, Bozeman has been treated to the revelry of ski culture that is the Cold Smoke Awards. This homegrown festival featured film projects from skiing’s vast spectrum of hardcore devotees, and the audience was as crazy and weird as they come. This year, however, no such revelry took place and the renowned awards ceremony was not—the reason being that festival organizers felt the submissions were far too commercialized and lacked the authentic snow-culture character and tone the Cold Smoke Awards were founded on and known for. Bravo, Cold Smoke organizers, for sensing when gratuitous plugs equal advertising and not art—in short, for demanding that production companies keep it real. For the most part, we need the gear, we like the gear, and we’re going to buy the gear. We don’t need to be inundated with product shots and slow-mos hovering over logos when we’re trying to get pumped for more skiing. If Warren Miller and all the other ski-film pioneers could make it without shameless advertorial, so can everyone else. 

While some folks say enough is enough, others double down—in this case, on wasteful, shortsighted mineral extraction. Three mine proposals in southwest Montana threaten wildlife, water quality, recreation, and the local tourism economy. Two are located near the Yellowstone River and one above the fabled Smith River near White Sulphur Springs. Lucky Minerals has applied for exploratory drilling permits in Emigrant Gulch, behind Chico Hot Springs. Just upriver, near Gardiner, Crevice Mining Group has put in another exploration application for gold mines on Crevice Mountain, a stone’s throw from Yellowstone Park. Not to be outdone, Tintina Resources proposes copper extraction near the only landscape potentially more loved than the Park, the Smith River. All three companies claim job creation and economic growth as their inspiration for cutting open the land and potentially poisoning our rivers—which, last time we checked, had a solid economic driver of their own, and one that stands to lose a lot from polluted rivers and depleted fisheries. Here for the boom, gone for the bust, these out-of-state prospectors leave Montanans holding the bag.