It’s January 25th and many of us are opening up our social media feeds before getting on with the day. I often wait until noon to look at anything so that I get some time for myself in the morning.
One of my friends has proposed to his girlfriend of a few years. The next is “in a relationship” with someone new. Another is feeling depressed and I reach out to give a message of hope.
One more scroll down the page and I’ll get back to writing.
“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do”
~Warren Miller (ski in peace.)
This last post was followed by a long list of quotes of similar sentiment. I push my finger up the screen to see another post from my ski co. CEO about the passing of Warren Miller, then another from SKI magazine, and another from TGR, all expressing condolences, gratefulness for the impact his dedication gave the community while wishing ski-turns on the other side.
Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times.
I’m at a loss. I was half-way through writing a piece about Candide Thovex and his impact on both the ski and film industry, and I’m stopped in my tracks. How can I write about Candide in the shadow of this iconic figure passing?
Warren Miller started his company Warren Miller Entertainment in 1949 and began producing one ski movie every year. From Iconic films like Steep and Deep and Have Skis, Will Travel, to No Boundaries, Ski People, and Endless Winter (these being 3 of my personal favourites).
Every year from 1950 to 2004, a movie was produced that sold out local ski co. showings and theaters alike. Every year ski bums and cinematographers waited in anticipation for the next segment of Warren’s brain to unload on-screen. Each and every onlooker hoping to get the first glimpse of where the industry would turn next, what adventure we may be about to embark upon.
Warren was a storyteller, someone who in his own words, “enjoyed entertaining people…rather than just filming people turning right or left”. That’s one of those traits that separates the few pioneers from the pack. This view that everything is a story waiting to be told rather than merely a viewing of the object and the motion of subjects occupying the frame. A mindset that shaped the way these moments were captured and the way the story of skiing was told.
The Warren Miller attitude to filmmaking is something that has been carried into the 21st century largely by the sheer nature of how well his style of filming has been received. His adventurous spirit is abundant, always lively, and heartfelt. He carried this across more than 500 films involving the outdoors, his other passions including surfing and sailing. He pursued adventure throughout his life, from building his own surfboards in high school to ride the waves of Malibu, ski-bumming in Idaho, to his sailing expeditions from his residence at Orcas Island.
Photo courtesy of Chris Miller.
I was never fortunate enough to meet Warren. He would not have picked me out of a sea of faces, but I would certainly recognize him. He never knew my name nor my nature, but I could single out Warren’s voice from across the room, in the same way I recognize which one of my Patrol buddies is yelling down from the chair lift. It’s this feeling of intimacy littered throughout his films in great abundance that makes the loss of a man I never met feel like the loss of an old friend. He shared his stories with me. He shared those same stories with millions of people. It’s for these reasons that we feel so deeply the loss of our on-screen and in-ear companion. It’s for these reasons that multiple industries share their grief and overwhelming gratitude.
He leaves behind the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky MT, the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation for young entrepreneurs, a host of family, and a massive community of loyal followers.
As I take a moment to bow my head for our beloved friend, I can’t help but wonder about the future, and how his spirit will live on. Who will pioneer the next age of skiing as we wander into uncertainty?
Photo courtesy of Warren Miller Co.
There is no replicating the mind of Warren Miller, and for his bountiful life we are forever indebted, but we are thankful that there is a man who can keep that flame ignited. A man who is taking that spirit on its next adventure: Candide Thovex.
The writer of Warren Miller’s In Memoriam, suggests that “for those who are able to, ski a favorite run or enjoy another activity you love in Warren’s memory”.
For now, I think that’s just what I’ll do.
“The best place in the world to ski is where you’re skiing that day.”
Stay tuned for Part II: Candide Thovex. Everyone’s Hero.