Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Warren Miller’s latest film offers global perspective

At one point during Warren Miller’s 64th annual ski movie, “Ticket To Ride,” an older man watches young professional skiers soaring down the steep, snow-covered peaks rising above him north of Anchorage, Alaska.

“I’m so envious, man,” he says.

You and me both, Mister. You and me both.

And of course, that’s the feeling the grandfather of ski films wants the audience to have. The annual movies, which tour the country for two months in advance of the oncoming ski season, are a pep rally for winter, leaving viewers aching for the first snowfall. The two showings of the film Friday night at 6:30 and 9:30 at the Bing Crosby Theater likely will be filled with skiers and snowboarders cheering at every scene.

Miller’s movies are inclusive and wide-reaching. Locations include Alaska, Switzerland, Montana, Colorado, Greenland, Norway and Kazakhstan. Male and female skiers and snowboarders fly through whisper-light powder and expansive, heartbreaking scenery. They climb the west face of The Eiger in Switzerland, then ski off. A helicopter deposits two skiers atop a craggy peak in Kazakhstan, and they ski-fly down it using parasails.

A veteran of the Afghanistan war who lost the use of both feet regains his joyfulness with the help of friends when he does a back flip using adaptive ski gear in Aspen, Colo., landing in a huge air bag to cheers from the crowd. Trick skiers and boarders fly off railings, bank off concrete walls and grind down banisters. And just to remind you that the pros are still human, the film crew included scenes of falls so dramatic they’ll make you shudder.

The film also acknowledges the threat of climate change, with skiers traveling to Greenland and saying the glaciers there are melting five times faster than they did 20 years ago. They ride dogsleds, boat across open water and hike up mountains to bag first descents that they say could be “last descents” due to global warming.

“We only have one chance,” skier Michelle Parker says. “There’s no Planet B.”

Likewise, later in the film, during another Aspen scene, skiers and boarders visit a nearby coal mine to illustrate the capture of methane gas emissions for use in generating electricity. Skier Chris Davenport, shown with his son, says his No. 1 goal as a parent is to make sure his children have the same opportunities he had.

And right now, those opportunities are constantly expanding, says skier Chris Anthony, watching JT Holmes and Espen Fadnes ski-fly down a slope in Kazakhstan, using parasails in conjunction with their skis. They fly, then touch down to swoop across the snow, then take flight again.

“Everything’s changed,” Anthony says. “Everything’s evolved. You can’t help but think, ‘Wow. What are our limitations?’ ”