UMW News Bureau
University of Montana Western business major Cory Birkenbuel is on a mission. The 33-year old Dillon, Mont. native and self-proclaimed Maverick Mountain ski bum endeavored on a whirlwind, 16-day tour of all 16 Montana ski areas to create a documentary film about the state’s diverse skiing industry and lifestyle.
The project, Montana’s Sweet 16, is part of Birkenbuel’s senior internship at Montana Western. He is working with Montana State University film student and Dillon native Kevin Hilton to not only ski every area in the state but also to shoot video of skiing, snowboarding and life at each of the areas. Birkenbuel ultimately plans to make a documentary to enter in film festivals across the region.
Birkenbuel said the trip and experience are proving to be both challenging and rewarding.
“The project has been demanding,” Birkenbuel explains. “We had to wake up each morning really early to get sunrise shots and then we went to bed around midnight, but the experience has been an amazing time and a great opportunity to complete my internship from Montana Western. This is experiential learning at its best by getting out of the classroom with hands-on experience.”
The project made headlines across the state. In addition to being featured on ski area websites, Birkenbuel and Hilston were featured in a Dec. 30 article in the Missoulian, in a television interview on KXLF News and on Montana Snow Sports online.
Birkenbuel says, aside from being a lot of fun, the project is giving him new perspective on his home state.
“The time we have spent on the road has made us realize how huge and beautiful Montana is,” he adds. “We are very lucky to be doing this trip across this great state.”
The Montana’s Sweet 16 tour concluded on Monday, Jan. 16 at Maverick Mountain. Birkenbuel and Hilton are currently editing their film and will be entering it in film festivals throughout the year.
Their project can also be followed on Facebook by searching “Montana’s Sweet 16.”