By Helen Olsson
There are certain harbingers that the ski season is upon us: Leaves fall. The air turns crisp. Arapahoe Basin opens. And the annual crop of ski movies hits theaters.
For our family, going to a ski flick from Warren Miller Entertainment or Matchstick Productions is a tradition that’s the perfect psych-up to ski season. And if you were ever going to see a Warren Miller movie, this is the year to do it, as the man who pioneered the genre 67 years ago will make an appearance in the movie (Here, There & Everywhere) for the first time since 2004.
I’ve been going to Warren Miller movies since I saw my first screening in a hotel meeting room in New York in the 1980s. I grew up on Miller’s trademark call to ski action: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when do.” But there is nothing quite like seeing a ski movie on a big screen in a theater full of rabid snow-sliding enthusiasts who hoot and holler at every face shot and cliff drop. It’s energizing.
Once my husband and I had kids, we were reluctant to skip the movie premieres so we often brought the little chiddlers along, packing earplugs to protect their precious ears from the thunderous soundtrack. The kids would run around the theater before the lights dimmed, collecting stickers, lip balm, and other swag. They’d raise their hands high to catch flying t-shirts chucked into the audience by an on-stage emcee.
Then we’d sit back to watch impossible descents down peaks from the Colorado Rockies to Alaska’s Chugach and lust for blower powder days of our own. One year, my daughter fell asleep on my lap shortly after the opening credits of a Warren Miller movie rolled, and I questioned the wisdom of paying the relatively steep price of admission. (I would have been wiser to go to 3 p.m. matinee.)
As our kids have grown older—they are now teens and tweens—they not only stay awake for the whole show, they love the pre-show fanfare. When the movie starts, they sit wide-eyed, mouth slightly agape, entranced. They leave the theater itching to put steel edges to snow.
Here, There & Everywhere, Warren Miller 2016
Here, There & Everywhere is set on location around the globe, with backdrops from Greenland and Switzerland to Kicking Horse, BC, and Cordova, AK. Colorado skiers and riders will especially love the segments set in Crested Butte with the incomparable Wendy Fisher, a 7-month-pregnant Ingrid Backstrom, and halfpipe Olympian Aaron Blunck. (For more details on Colorado coverage in this year’s Warren Miller movie and clips of Colorado segments from year’s past, click here.)
This year, the glue holding the different segments together is a nostalgic blend of Warren Miller footage going back to the era of black and white along with interviews with the legend himself. Moviegoers will love hearing Warren’s voice on the soundtrack again. (Incidentally, Miller just came out with his autobiography this fall, Freedom Found.)
Ruin & Rose, Matchstick Productions 2016
While the Warren Miller movie is known for its globe-trotting, no movie went quite as far—literally and figuratively—as this year’s Matchstick Productions movie, Ruin & Rose. I took the kids to see it this fall, and they were transfixed. It’s a groundbreaking movie that used a post-apocalyptic storyline to put a spotlight on global warming. Much of the movie was filmed in the deserts of Namibia. The cinematography was simply stunning and offered a quiet juxtaposition to the exhilaration of the snow-filled, action-packed ski segments, filmed in snowy locales from Alaska to Bulgaria.
Some moviegoers thought the Ruin & Rose storyline pivoted too far from the traditional ski movie formula (all big tricks, big air, big powder, big crashes, big cliff drops, etc.), but my kids loved it. And like the Warren Miller movie, it was the perfect way to get psyched for a winter of ski and snowboard adventures of our own.