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Chris Anthony

Megan Mowbray
Matt Inden/The Vail TrailChris Anthony arcs a turn on top of a 10-foot cornice in Vail's backcountry terrain.
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Chris Anthony is well into his 17th year working with ski film guru Warren Miller, has worked with the likes of Greg Lemond and Michael Douglas, written two screenplays, participated in numerous ski instructional camps, and given motivational talks all around the world. The Vail Valley resident has fought back from countless injuries and even been named as an Ambassador for Colorado.

But don’t take our word for it. Anthony will share his stories himself when he presents “Off-Road with Warren Miller” for the Vail Symposium on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Donovan Park Pavilion in Vail. Admission is free.

Megan Mowbray: How did you come to live this lifestyle?

Chris Anthony: I grew up skiing and competed and competed. Then I went to Alaska for the original extreme skiing. I skied in eight championships. There was a movement that was just starting, extreme skiing. It evolved into free skiing with terrain parks, half pipes, and big air. It helped evolve the sport, that’s for sure. I was one of the original groups up there starting to ski in the Valdez, which is now super popular. It’s become sort of a North Shore, like with surfers. It’s my Mecca. I was lucky, I certainly didn’t know what I was getting into, I was just a skier from Golden Peak.

MM: How did you get involved with Warren Miller?

CA: Vail used to hold this hard core skier challenge to test (for the) all around best mountain skier with racing, bumps, and jumps that had to be done all at once in one course. I did well in that event. Another guy who did well was Mike Farney, who had just returned from a shoot with Warren Miller. They needed one more skier to go to Europe on a film shoot. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, I was just asked if I could go, and ski on Head skies. Of course I said sure, even though I was in college and finals were coming up. I guess I put the cart before the horse. That was sort of the opening door. I enjoyed the whole process, not just the skiing. That’s why I fell in love with the whole Warren Miller thing. Skiing was the easy part.

MM: So what was the hard part?

CA: Everything else. People tend to think it’s all glamour, but it’s a hard process. Like if you are at a resort on a groomed run, the audience is expecting the best that you can bring them. To do that, you need to shoot 1,000 different angles using different film speeds and repeat the action over and over and over to make sure the film editor has everything he possibly needs to work with. On a perfect day, you can rotate through pretty quickly – hike up for one turn, then two, then three. But if you are doing a long shot with like 20 turns it make take an hour. Sometimes you are also skiing into a place you haven’t skied or practiced and you want to appear like you are going hard, but it’s not home turf.

MM: What about biking?

CA: I started cycling as a means to train and keep in shape for skiing. I excelled at it for a while, getting really good results. I thought maybe that was my calling, but then I was drawn back to skiing. But the man most recognized and successful at the time was Greg Lemond. He was my Michael Jordan. One year he was skiing at Beaver Creek and coincidentally, I was teaching his kids how to ski, I didn’t know he was their father. It was sort of a crazy thing, one of the kid’s dad called for a ride to Copper, and it turned out to be Greg Lemond. I didn’t believe it was happening. My hero was on the phone with me. It turned into a very good friendship. He hired me to work with him and go through different levels of training and to go to Europe. It was like a kid in New York, and Michael Jordan calls and asks him to come help him shoot hoops.

MM: Who else is an inspiration to you?

CA: People that are good at their sport and last a long time to give back. When it all comes down to it, there are very few athletes that represent that. People that most importantly have good values all the way through, and then evolve to use their fame for other things. People who use their brains and aren’t just jocks. I feel like skiing is just a tool to reach other goals.

MM: What kind of other goals?

CA: I feel like I’ve been lucky that skiing has taken me to many different places and educated me in many different ways. My aspirations are in film and writing. Skiing provided a way to achieve both of these mediums. Hopefully, this is just the beginning. Because as I grow older, I realize eventually, I won’t want to jump off cliffs anymore. Because of the Warren Miller films, I attached on to a film company and got an internship with Paramount to work with Michael Douglas. I wrote a couple screenplays, one of them auctioned off to Warner Brothers and then they commissioned me to write another one. Neither one has gone into production, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

MM: What is one about?

CA: Well, one is a coming-of-age story with six characters of all different walks of life. Think “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Point Break,” and “Crash.” All multiple stories from a very real point of view. There is a lot of action, but there is a reason for it. When I wrote it, I had some ideas for actors. The characters are all in their 20s so I thought Matthew Broderick for one, and well, let’s just say they asked me to change one of the character’s names to Keanu. But now, I would change it back to the original name.

MM: What is the best memory you have so far from skiing, besides being on your dad’s back?

CA: I was left on top of a mountain above the Arctic Circle in Norway at 11:30 at night. The sun wasn’t setting yet, and one of our four other athletes had been injured so they had to fly him out. I was there for two hours in dead silence, with no wind, nothing. I was completely by myself. It was completely surreal. That sort of sticks out, because I kept thinking, how in the world did I get here? It was all by random chance. When you put that all together it’s pretty wild. Not that I wanted to be there for a month or anything, but those two hours were amazing. VT


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