Warren Miller celebrates 60 years of film
October 26, 2009
What do Norway, China and Colorado have in common? They are all featured in the new Warren Miller film “Dynasty.” While ski season is still a month away, snowaholics can whet their appetite at the Silver Screen Cinema in Winter Park with a screening of the this year’s Miller flick, which celebrates 60 years of Warren Miller footage with a tour of more than a dozen spectacular ski regions. Miller himself hasn’t been directly involved in the making of a film since 2004, but with the name comes expectations of amazing vertical feats and deep powder. In that aspect, “Dynasty” doesn’t disappoint. There are enough snow-sluffing backcountry couloir runs to make an average resort skier feel grateful for hot cocoa at the lodge after a few turns under the lift. Having grown up on classic Miller, with its skinny-pant-and-wool-sweater-clad skiers knocking out series after series of tight-stanced, sychronized swishing turns, watching this most recent flick is like playing Wii “Road Trip” snowboarding with an ADD tweenager. The film incoherently bounces around locations with no real storyline to tie it all together. (That’s coming from somebody whose best chance of ever appearing in a Warren Miller film is in the blooper reel, mind you, so it’s easy to be critical.) Starting from a rock in the middle of Lake Tahoe, “Dynasty” journeys to Blue River, B.C., where the snowflakes fall big and straight; down to Crystal Mountain, Wash., driving home the point that you don’t even understand the meaning of big powder; southeast to Colorado for some spring skiing and, um, kayaking; overseas to Norway, after which you’ll be booking tickets on Expedia.com; back to Aspen – qualifying as a country of its own – for a long segment on monoskiing; north to Cordova, Alaska, better covered by Shaun White and Hannah Teeter in “First Descent,”; east to Michigan, west to Sun Valley, Idaho, and then back overseas to – of all places – western China, where skiing may have been born thousands of years ago. China steals the show. Skiers Chris Anthony of Vail and Austin Ross of Whistler enter uncharted territory after a two-day sled journey with horses to discover a place where the locals still use wooden planks and a single long pole to make their way down the mountain. They attach horse hair skins to the bottom of their skis, allowing them to easily ascend and quickly descend without stopping to remove or change any gear, which just flabbergasted the Miller team.Other highlights include the sponsored, yes sponsored, 9-year-old snow boarder Alexis Roland of Bloomington, Minn., who gives the rest of us good reason to put our preschoolers on snow gear, and the bizarre flatlander skiing in Michigan. For anyone who’s seen “Step into Liquid,” one of the all-time greatest surfing documentaries, this is the ski-world equivalent of tanker surfing in east Texas.If you are holding your breath for great Colorado footage, don’t bother. Max Mancini of Crested Butte and Matt Lunczkow of Breckenridge take off on an “ambitious storm-chasing trip” (read: trying to find good snow late in the season) across Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region, but get shorted in the final cut. Free-heelers will enjoy watching Mancini represent (almost everyone else in the film seems to randonne). But, the majority of Colorado’s footage is given to silliness at the base of various resorts and a low moment involving an alligator on a snowboard. Where Colorado lacks great footage it makes up in skiers. Featured in the film are Matt Walker of Breckenridge, Andrew Hathaway of Boulder, Klaus Obermeyer of Aspen, Matt Phillipi of Breckenridge, Scott Meyer of Summit, Kees-Jan Van Der Klooster of Aspen, John Spriggs of Breckenridge, Matt Walker of Basalt and Felix Snow of Telluride. Chris Davenport of Aspen lucks out with the trip to the lovely Norway. For those of us who work for a living, it’s a nice distraction to watch those who make a living playing. Longtime Miller fans will appreciate the historic montage featuring vintage highlights and comedic moments interspersed throughout the film. The rest of us will leave feeling a little bit inferior and really ready for the snow to start falling. – Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or email@example.com.