Sherpas helping with avalanche video contest 

Filmmakers encouraged to create educational movies to prevent deaths

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A Whistler motion picture production company that got its start by creating an avalanche education video is getting back to its roots. Malcolm Sangster of Sherpas Cinema is going to be part of a judging panel that will evaluate four-minute avalanche preparedness videos submitted for a new contest sponsored by the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC).

The contest, called Show Us How You Know the Snow, is underway now and continues through to March 21. The CAC is teaming up with the American Institute for Avalanche Research, and Education, and six other organizations, to sponsor the contest aimed at bringing more awareness to avalanche protection. Videos entered into the contest will be posted on the video sharing website Vimeo, so they can be viewed by anyone interested in the contest. The winning video will be determined by a combination of the most views and the assessment of an expert panel, which will include Sangster.

The first project Sangster's company took on was a video called The Fine Line. The movie won several awards after it was released.

"It was an avalanche education film that was commissioned by the Canadian Avalanche Foundation," said Sangster from his home in Banff. "It's one feature film and four training films."

The contest organizers are looking for videos showing proper preparation for riding in avalanche terrain.

"Show us what happens before you hit your favourite powder stash," said CAC executive director Gilles Valade. "Use your camera to tell the story about how you and your crew get ready to safely explore beyond the resort boundary and you've got a great chance to win some amazing prizes.

"Our goal is to simplify what's involved in avalanche terrain preparation."

Each year an average of 150 people are killed around the world in avalanches reported by the 17 countries making up the International Commission for Alpine Rescue. In Canada between 1998 and 2007 an average of 14 people a year died after being trapped in avalanches.

The creator of the winning video will get a two-day trip for two at Monashee Powder Snowcats, two four-day gold passes to any resort in the United States and a Backcountry Access Float 22 airbag along with other prizes. Sangster said there has been some discussion of his company possibly being involved in creating a final edit of the winning video.

Full contest details are at KnowTheSnow.com.

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