Celebrating the Cold Smoke

Coldsmoke Awards, winter, Outside Bozeman, Montana

The Cold Smoke Awards at the Emerson. 

When you hear the term “film awards,” visions of red carpets, fancy clothes, and grand media attention reminiscent of the Academy Awards may cross your mind. Not so with the Cold Smoke Awards, Bozeman's signature ski-film extravaganza. As I walked into the Emerson’s Crawford Theater Saturday night for the 8th annual Awards, I found a variety of excited ski fans ready to have a great time. The theater was packed with crowds lining the back walls and eagerly awaiting the awards. 

Red-faced, messy-haired ski bums fresh off the mountain milled around in their best ski digs (many pulling off the beauty of the ‘80s neon full-body suit—a crowd favorite). Groups congregated in the front of the audience, ready to catch prizes thrown into their outstretched hands. Older couples sat quietly in their seats, enjoying the upbeat crowd. The awards brought together a variety of folks ready to celebrate the culture of the winter-sport lovers who would rather spend their Saturday afternoons frost-bitten on top of a mountain than curled up in front of a fire.

As host Randy Cook stepped onto the stage in a 70s-style light blue leisure suit and Einsten-esque white wig, matching the zany energy of the audience, I knew I was in for a good time. The entire show reflected the ski-bum culture that Bozeman proudly maintains, as presenters joked with the audience and the audience joked back. Cook complained about missing the “one powder day of the season” due to a minor accident at the last Cold Smoke event in Bozeman, earning groans of understanding from the crowd. 

Between the shenanigans, short selected clips introduced each film nominated in ten categories: Best Descent, Best Cinematography, Home Field Advantage, Best Urban Riding, Best Powder, Best Editing, Best Soul, Explorer’s Award, People’s Choice Award, and finally, the Cold Smoke Award. The films focused on winter activities, mainly skiing and snowboarding, but many of the films featured other winter sports such as ice climbing and kayaking.

The audience also received swag during the course of the show. The minute the words “free stuff” left the mouth of the host, an eager mob rushed the stage to reap the rewards. Along with goodies thrown into the crowd—including hats and t-shirts—a raffle featuring donated items added an element of suspense to the event. I eyed the free Bridger Pass, but alas, my luck deserted me. Other prizes given to the lucky winners included a pair of skis, a snowboard, and a weekend package to Big Sky Resort. 

The show concluded with a short video featuring paraskiers gliding down majestic peaks at neck-breaking speeds. It provided the perfect ending to the night, presenting a semi-new sport to a group of winter-sport lovers who came together to celebrate a love of the coldest months of the year.

Got a ski film (or other video) of your own? Enter the Outside Bozeman Best Outdoor Video contest and win fame, fortune, and great swag from area merchants.