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Devastating Beauty

By August 26, 2016Daily Create

Today’s Daily Create went along with a multimedia piece I read today put out by the New York Times called Snowfall. What’s amazing about this story is twofold. First is how it’s told. The format is set up like an elegant website, embedded with images, video and actual audio from the 911 calls. There is even an augmented animation. It’s  great digital storytelling and the media garnered critical acclaim, including winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Second is, of course, the story itself (for who cares how pretty something is if it isn’t well-told). It’s about how 16 expert skiers and snowboarders made a fateful back-country run down Stevens Pass on February 19, 2012. The day started out as a fun event and by noon turned to tragedy due to a devastating avalanche that killed three of the world’s top skiers. What immediately pulled me into the piece was how well-written it was. Here is the opening line:

The snow burst through the trees with no warning but a last-second whoosh of sound, a two-story wall of white and Chris Rudolph’s piercing cry: “Avalanche! Elyse!”

It was gripping. I shed some tears as the narrator described in detail how one skier had been trampled so badly by 11 million pounds of snow that his arm was like “pulling a wet towel . . . there was nothing connected to anything. It was completely crushed.”

11 million pounds of snow! I can’t even wrap my brain around that. That’s like getting slammed with 5,500 cars all at once.

I live in Colorado. I love the mountains. I feel safe here. It’s beautiful. But I can’t say I ever really understood the awesome power of these mountains.

And I never want to.


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