Local skier to hold North American premiere her film in Bethel

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BETHEL — Jackie Paaso, big mountain skier and co-director and co-star of “Evolution of Dreams,” will premiere her film in North America at The Gem on Saturday, Oct. 20. Doors will open for a reception at 6 p.m. and the film will show at 7:30.

“We dreamed of Olympic Gold, being the best in the world, yet great success always keeps company with failure. When everything fell apart, dreams of Olympic success were smashed. For a time the loss consumed us. We found free ride by chance, and the discovery changed our world in ways we couldn’t have imaged. We found our tribe.”

Paaso is a world-class free skier who lived and skied in Bethel from age 12 and graduated from Gould Academy in 2000. As a child, Paaso and her family would travel from Foxboro, Massachusetts, to Sunday River every week so that she could be part of the weekend competition program. When she was in eighth grade, the family had the chance to move anywhere in the country and they chose Bethel. She attended Telstar in eighth grade and then spent four years at Gould Academy as a freestyle skier.

In January, Paaso will compete in her 10th and final season on the Freeride World Tour. She became a big mountain skier in 2006. She is humble and quiet about her accomplishments, but they include six Freeride World Tour victories and 12 podiums. She was also the 2016 Verbier Xtreme Champion and the first woman in 11 years to win the Sick Bird Award. She is passionate about skiing. Her face lights up when she talks about the outdoors.

Paaso co-starred in the film with Eva Walkner, a friend she met on the tour. “Evolution of Dreams” tells their story through footage of their amazing feats. It takes the viewer on their journey from skiing regulated courses as young girls to becoming big mountain skiers as young women and finally, to their next challenge — exploring the world of ski mountaineering.

“Evolution of Dreams” is the culmination of a two-year project that explores what happens when the passion for your dreams fades. Do you just stop? Or do you search for what’s missing and uncover new dreams and goals? Paaso’s and co-star Eva Walkner’s journeys have taken them from regulated ski courses to big mountain skiing which allowed them more freedom. Throughout that journey, they’ve discovered another aspect of skiing — ski mountaineering. In this new discipline, they have to tackle new challenges and conquer new fears. It is their “Evolution of Dreams.”

“I’ve got one thing left on my checklist,” Paaso says, “and if you’ve been following my career at all, I think you know what that is. So it’s all or nothing in 2019. Most important will be having fun and skiing the way that makes me the proudest. So here’s to an injury-free season to top them all off. If one thing is for sure, I’ll do my best to make sure whoever ends up on top has to work for it.”

At 4:30 p.m, Paaso will also give an avalanche awareness talk at The Gem. The program is free and open to the public. She is the co-founder of SAFE AS Clinics and Safe on Snow Clinics, avalanche clinics held in the U.S. and Europe. She is presenting on behalf of the BRASS Foundation (Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety), organized to honor Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack, two promising development-level ski racers on the U.S. Ski Team who were killed in an avalanche while training in Soelden, Austria, in January 2015. Paaso will have avalanche beacons to demonstrate as well.

She will be available for a Q&A following the film as well. She is excited to return home for the premier before the film heads to festivals all over Europe. The first screening of the film will be the night before, in Salzburg, Austria, but Paaso will be here in Bethel. There will be roughly 100 screenings of the film worldwide. The only other U.S. screening currently scheduled is at the Santa Fe Film Festival on Nov. 5.

The screening that night opens with the 50-minute film “A Land Shaped by Women,” about the travels of two other freeride skiers, and a five-minute submission by the Wallner Brothers to the Are Video Challenge that highlights the top to bottom ride of Robin Wallner. Proceeds from The Gem event will go to the Bethel Rec Ski Program.

Eva Walkner, left, and Jackie Paaso from the film “Evolution of Dreams.” (Photo courtesy of Hans-Martin Kudlinski)

Still shot from “Evolution of Dreams.” (Photo courtesy of Hans-Martin Kudlinski)

Still shot from “Evolution of Dreams.” (Photo courtesy of Hans-Martin Kudlinski)

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