Photos taken last season during Stellar Heliskiing expeditions are on the cover of the current issues of both Powder (above) and Transworld Snowboarding (below).

A Stellar start to winter

A local heliski operation has found its way onto a pair of premier magazine covers just in time for the upcoming season.

Making the front cover of a major magazine would be enough for most businesses to do cartwheels, but a local heliski operation is enjoying the glow of appearing on two covers at once.

Stellar Heliskiing, which operates out of Nelson and Kaslo, is featured in spectacular front-page photos in the November editions of Powder Magazine and Transworld Snowboarding.

The latter features an aerial shot taken in mid-April in the Purcell Range by veteran photographer Scott Sullivan of ace boarder Nicholas Müller doing a “football-field size pow turn” during a visit by a crew from Absinthe Films.

“They were actually on their way to Alaska, but Alaska had a really bad year, so they spent some extra time in the Kootenays and discovered some beautiful terrain with us,” says Stellar’s Martin Keyserlingk.

“They were up three days shooting and filming. We had beautiful weather and beautiful snow and they brought some great athletes.”

Transworld has posted a video on its website about the story behind the photo, in which Müller explains that while he doesn’t compete any more, “for me [making] the cover was like winning a competition.”

Sullivan, who has been snowboarding for more than 20 years and working for over a decade as a photographer, also appears in the video.

“This has to go down as one of the greatest runs I’ve personally ever witnessed,” he says in the magazine.

The Powder cover, meanwhile, was taken in the Selkirks on the west shore of Kootenay Lake by a photographer with another film company, Sherpa Cinema, which was in the midst of filming a movie called All I Can — currently the top sports movie on iTunes.

“They’ve done a smash-up job on that,” Keyserlingk says. “They were out filming with us last year and brought a young, very talented photographer named Jordan Manley.”

It was Manley’s photo of Chad Sayers that made the cover.

Normally the credit and caption appear in the masthead, but in this case Stellar is mentioned right on the cover.

Both film companies actually have direct Nelson connections: Absinthe director Justin Hostynek has his editing studio here, while Sherpa Cinema also has one fellow based here.

Keyserlingk says it’s a happy coincidence that both pictures appeared at the same time.

“Photographers come out, take their shots, then submit them to different publications that choose the best of the best. I know there’s more coming out in the next month or two, but you never know when or how.”

The publicity is paying off for Stellar, which is heading into its sixth season running single and multi-day trips.

“We’re already seeing a lot more traffic on our website and on blogs,” Keyserlingk says. “We’re really grateful we’ve got the talent and winters and terrain we have here in the Kootenays. And the exposure coming out of it is great for everybody.”

He adds the dollar-value equivalent of the two covers is “through the roof,” as a full-page ad in Powder costs well over $10,000, “much more than we would ever be able to afford.”

More media outlets are lined up to check out Stellar’s terrain this year, “so the word’s starting to spread, which is great,” Keyserlingk says.

“You see a lot of high-quality images of the Kootenays in national, North American, and even international magazines. It keeps driving the point home that we compete on a global scale with our product.”

Amazingly, Powder also featured the West Kootenay backcountry on its December cover — a shot of skier Jeff Campbell “flashing his way through the Selkirks,” taken by Garrett Grove.

(CORRECTION: The main photo accompanying this story was originally the cover of the December issue of Powder, which although taken in West Kootenay, was not part of the Stellar shoot. Some of the text also erroneously alluded to the wrong cover.)

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