Steamboat Springs Eight million college students at 720 colleges across the United States will learn about Double Z Bar and Barbecue's Chicken Lips sandwich, thanks to 24-year-old hometown boy George Oliphant.
"I grew up on Chicken Lips sandwiches," he said. "And I'm always representing the 'Boat." Even in New York, where he recently took a job as an on-air personality for MTV's latest venture, the College Television Network.
The channel aired for the first time with MTV's new programming on April 1. CTN streams into dorm rooms, cafeterias, student lounges and gymnasiums with shows designed for college students. It broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Since taking the job, Oliphant has interviewed Nelly and the All-American Rejects.
"This is a sweet job," he said. "I get to go back stage, interview great bands and then party with them."
Oliphant graduated from University of Colorado in Boulder in 2000 with a degree in Film and Theater.
"My dad (Steamboat attorney Tim Oliphant) asked me what I was going to do next," Oliphant said. "I thought maybe I would come back to Steamboat and ski. He said no."
Tim Oliphant talked his son into moving to New York. At first, George stayed with his grandparents in Montclair, N.J., taking the train into New York City until he got established.
A professor from Boulder helped Oliphant get a job with a film-editing house where he edited Burger King commercials.
"I logged so many hours of Coke cascading over ice, and burger flipping and fries flying through salt," he said. He spent his spare time sending out headshots and auditioning for every play and film he saw advertised.
He took a job with a children's theater company that performed in Connecticut and New Jersey and sent a tape to MTV.
"They thought I was funny," he said.
When MTV bought CTN last fall, they still had Oliphant's tape and invited him in to audition.
"I guess they still thought I was funny and I started working in January," he said. He showed up in Colorado with a camera crew to film the Burton Elite Team in Breckenridge, then to Boulder to film a segment on mountain biking and then to Steamboat to shoot the Maverick Superpipe Challenge.
Oliphant was in the Winter Sports Club growing up and immediately impressed his employers with his skiing ability.
"And I can speak what they call the 'bro/bra lingo,'" he said. "They decided I was definitely the person for winter sports."
Oliphant led the crew off the mountain to shoot the town from a local kid's angle.
They visited the Winter Driving School.
"It was really fun," he said. "We got to do donuts in the parking lot and crash into snow banks. I think they were surprised that I could drive so well on the ice. They didn't realize that I had to learn it growing up."
Then, the crew shot a segment on cool ski town jobs, like the guy who drives the Dragon that carves out the half pipe.
And they let locals request their favorite videos.
"They requested a lot of rap and country," he said. "But they are also into Eminem, Busta Rhymes and Killer Mike. The snowboarders were into Linkin Park, American Hi-Fi and the new punk bands like Simple Plan."
Then the group shot the Fish Creek Falls hike, the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and night skiing on Howelsen Hill.
Most of Oliphant's friends from Steamboat Spring High School have moved to Denver or Los Angeles, he said, and that's his best advice to the current graduating class.
"Get out. It's hard to leave, because Steamboat is fantasy island. But people need to expand their knowledge beyond Denver. Steamboat will be there when you get back. It's a big country and a bigger world. A lot of people get discouraged," he said.
"If all else fails, you'll know that you can outski all of them."