Downhill History

We're in a dry, dusty desert. Sure, it gets sort of cold, and it might even snow a little, but it's not like we're bringing out parkas. There's Mount Lemmon, but, really, Tucsonans don't know cold (unless you're a transplant, then maybe).

It's nice not to need to bundle up in December—and there's none of that annoying snow-shoveling. However, a little seasonal escape can be fun—and a special film viewing will offer Tucsonans a taste of winter.

Warren Miller's Dynasty is a skiing action film, and the movie marks the 60th anniversary of Miller's films. Warren Miller combined a love of skiing and cinematography to build a ski-movie empire, and every fall, a new film tours the United States. The films are set up in segments and always showcase new skiing destinations, adventures and themes.

Dynasty combines images from the last six decades and an impressive soundtrack (think Incubus, Passion Pit, Cream and Deep Purple) with scenery and camera work that will not only make you forget you're in a dry, dusty desert, but make you wonder: How the hell was that shot, and why the hell would anyone want to do that?

The camera crew—all well-versed in skiing—and the athletes travel to Lake Tahoe, British Columbia and even China. Chris Anthony, a 20-year veteran with Warren Miller films, went on what he describes as the farthest journey any Warren Miller crew has ever ventured on.

Anthony, a Colorado native and nationally ranked skier, heard that there may be 3,000-year-old rock drawings depicting skiing that could perhaps help pinpoint the sport's origins—in a remote area of northwestern China.

"We went to seek it out," says Anthony. "This was more about the journey, the below-freezing temperatures and the fact that we came across this ancient community of skiers."

In the Altai Mountains near Mongolia, Anthony and a crew traveled for five days, at one point in a horse-drawn sled. "This was like a Lewis and Clark expedition," he says.

Local guides helped with the journey, and the ancient ski drawings were, in fact, real. Anthony and the crew also had the chance to ski with people in the area who continue to build skis from wood, leather and horsehair.

"It was like a step back in time, and seeing where we (skiing) came from," he says about his segment, which is the final one in Dynasty.

"My parents would take me to the films every year," Anthony says. "I competed in skiing growing up, and that's how Warren Miller found me. I've been to Afghanistan, Iran, Japan, New Zealand and Ecuador. It's been pretty amazing."

The films have a cult-like following. People often come dressed up in ski gear; Anthony says it's a Rocky Horror-type of devotion.

Viewers might want to wear a jacket while watching people plow down snow-covered mountains; the high-definition almost shows the cold. Some of the segments are shot from helicopters; others are shot from a skier's perspective. People featured include a 10-year-old girl who can out-ski us all, and disabled athletes who use a mono-ski to race down the slopes.

"It's an event, a culture, it's a really cool thing to be a part of," says Anthony.

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment