What business does British automaker Bentley have commissioning a short film about a skier? “In Search of Snow,” directed by Austin Reza, is a series of moments in the life of mountain man Chris Davenport: at home in Aspen, painstakingly going over the details of an upcoming ski trip, watching his sons compete on the same slopes he grew up on and, finally, carving through feet of fresh powder in the pristine back country just outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.
The film (watch it below) is the brainchild of Graeme Russell, Bentley’s Head of Communications, The Americas and himself an avid skier. Though a Continental GT V8 makes a few cameos in the film, no mention is made of the fact that, aided by Bentley’s all-wheel-drive, the car effortlessly cruises through Colorado backcountry in the middle of a blizzard. Instead, the tie-in, explains Russell, is of a kindred spirit. In Davenport, Bentley has found a modern analog to the brand’s famously wild founding fathers—the Bentley Boys. “Chris’ approach to life is very much in the same vein as the original Bentley Boys,” Russell says, “he is a sportsman, skier and an adventurer who lives his life to the fullest and applies himself to be the best at his chosen sport.”
After two world championships and numerous accolades in competitive skiing, Davenport walked away from the professional circuit and lucrative sponsorships in 2005 to pursue the loftier goal of conquering the world’s peaks that had yet to be skied. In 2007, Davenport became the first person to climb and ski all 54 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado in less than a year, setting a high-mark for the sport that’s unlikely to be met anytime soon.
“I’m a big believer in the work hard, play hard mentality,” says Davenport, “using success or financial gain in your work to get out there and pursue things in life that are meaningful to you.”
Leaving the security of the competitive circuit, Davenport’s crisscrossing the globe, climbing and skiing down mountains on all seven continents. He’s built a unique and diversified brand in the cluttered world of action sports as an owner and spokesman for Austrian ski-maker Kästle, a for-hire guide that will take brave souls to ski the world’s biggest mountains. And he’s an in-demand speaker on risk management for Fortune 500 companies.
Which makes sense. On the mountain, the stakes are life and death, and his methodologies for weighing risk versus payoff up there, he’s found, have direct correlations to the treacherous world of business today. “People are no longer pigeonholed into the post-WWII era idea that you get a job and you hold that job for the rest of your life. But there is risk involved with leaving a good job to start a company, financing it yourself or bringing in outside investment to do something that you’re just passionate about. The rewards are so much greater, though,” says Davenport.
“This pairing is less about skiing or professional athletes as it is people that are willing to live their lives with a certain free spirit, a desire to achieve great things and a willingness to push themselves in a way that many people aren’t. At the end of the day, we should look back and measure our lives by the incredible experiences we’ve had rather than the size of our bank account.” It’s a sentiment that W.O. Bentley would undoubtedly agree with and why Davenport and Bentley exist in the same rarefied air, willing to shoulder the risk of venturing into unmapped territory for a chance at greatness.
Watch “In Search of Snow” here: