The ‘Flow State’
Ryan Summerlin November 22, 2012
“Flow State” refers to a state of mind, or a state of being, in which an athlete is so focused that things happen almost without thinking and time seems to move slowly – even when traveling at say, 80 mph down a nearly vertical ice luge, like some of the skiers on the World Class circuit are known to do regularly.
“If you ask a world class athlete, a lot of times they don’t remember the full details of a race or something; they were in that zone where they just functioned automatically,” said Chris Anthony, an Eagle County resident who is in the film and has been on the road touring and promoting since mid-October.
That’s the story behind the name of the 63rd Warren Miller film, which screens at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek today and Saturday. The film takes viewers atop peaks in Norway, Austria, California, Switzerland and beyond.
“The powder in Japan will send you scrambling to tune up your gear, the gravity in Telluride will have you scheduling an avalanche refresher course and the steeps in Alaska will drive you to push a little harder during your next preseason workout,” promoters boast.
There’s an 11-year-old in “Flow State,” as well as a slew of 90-something 10th Mountain Division veterans and athletes of all ages in between. It’s pretty similar to the audiences the films pull each year, Anthony said.
“We’ll get an audience where there will be three generations – grandparent to grandkid – and they all walk away with something,” Anthony said.
Last Saturday, the film screened three times at the Paramount Theatre in Denver. Altogether, around 6,000 people attended, and each show had a very different feel, Anthony said. At the first screening, eleven 10th Mountain Division vets, all in their 90s, joined Anthony onstage.
“They literally got a standing ovation. There were some tears too. It was amazing,” Anthony said.
The film includes a historical segment about the 10th Mountain Division, during which Anthony and others cut turns on 70-year-old 10th Mountain Division ski equipment. So far, people have really enjoyed that particular part of the film, Anthony said.
“It just has such a different feel to it,” he said. “It’s a real connection to our history, where we came from, and a real tribute to a special group of guys. Our editor did a nice job of putting it together. It’s a break from the archetype and all the crazy stuff to something that’s really neat.”
The 10th Mountain Division segment also features veterans explaining what it was like be a part of the United States’ first mountain infantry. These “original ski bums,” as Scott Kennett describes them, pioneered the way for today’s ski culture. The film includes vintage footage of the veterans navigating the Rockies with 7-foot hickory skis and 90-pound packs. Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division are invited to attend the screening free of charge.
Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety made an appearance at the next showing. He took a break from training for the upcoming World Cup season and drove to Denver to see the film for the first time. Ligety skiied in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains for one segment of the film, but had yet to see it.
“There he is, the No. 1 giant slalom skier in the world right now, and he’s in the film and he’s heli-skiing in Alaska, which is totally not what we’re used to seeing him do,” Anthony said. “He’s very humble in the segment, which is cool, and he takes a massive spill in it too. It’s nerve-wracking to see a guy out there risking himself and not on the world class circuit either, but just for the pure joy of skiing and being in Alaska.”
Former Vice President Al Gore attended the same showing Ligety did. Some of the film’s athletes, including Ligety and Anthony, teamed up with Gore’s Climate Reality Project.
“We’re making small steps to increase awareness so we can decrease our carbon impact and hopefully protect our winters,” Anthony said.
The final showing of the film got a little rowdy, Anthony said.
“It was a full-on rock star party show, with a shot ski up on stage and people going nuts,” Anthony said. “The shows literally went from PG to R.”