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Vail Valley Voices: Sorting photos, memories

Warren Miller
valleyvoices@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

As Laurie and I start to gather up stuff to go live and ski in Montana for the winter, I have been condensing six file cabinet drawers full of old photos into four three-ring binders for consideration of which will be included in my autobiography.

I had no idea this effort would be such a difficult job. My co-author, Morten Lund, has been busy for over a year now. We lost three months of collaborating last winter when I broke my back.

It was hard to think creatively or remember the past correctly when I was in pain and skiers were whizzing by less than 100 feet from my bedroom window.



But that is now history, and I am finding that almost every photo or piece of memorabilia triggers another memory to consider including in my life’s story. Should I include an old $4 one-day lift ticket at Mount Baldy in Los Angeles?

Once I get the old photos and memorabilia reduced by about 90 percent, we will haul them back to Montana this winter.



The Yellowstone Club had a foot of snow when I last checked.

It is with my constant companions, fear and trepidation, that I gear up for this winter. Will I be too scared to trust a safety binding again after pre-releasing and breaking my back? I hope not, because it was my own stupidity that I left so much snow on the bottom of my boot. This wasn’t the first time I’ve missed skiing due to an accident. When I broke my right leg in a fishing accident a decade ago, I missed an entire winter while the steel rod in my leg was finding a good place to call home. When I started skiing the following winter, I was a little scared to make a left turn.

But when the sun is out and the snow is untracked, anything that has happened before is forgotten because I am once again in my ultimate freedom zone. My freedom is only limited by how much adrenaline I have that day, which governs my speed. I find myself feeling like a 14-year-old kid in a downhill championship race. Every time I get to feeling like that, a woman skis by me about 15 miles per hour faster. I don’t try to keep up with her because she always waits for me at the bottom. I always say, “I don’t go skiing with my wife. I go ski lift riding with her.”



We were putting away some of the stuff from last winter’s accident and Laurie suggested I take along the walker just in case I again do something dumb. She also wants me to include the back brace. I don’t think I will need either one of them, but will bring them just in case.

I learned long ago during my other career of making films that less is better. During the editing process every time I would view the film I could see where it could be cut down. Writing this book we will go through the same process. I write the notes down and then transfer them to a master calendar, which I then send to Morten who is writing in New York. I am learning as I go. The process includes trying to remember, for instance, what else happened the night I hurt my back playing basketball for USC on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. It might not be very important when everything gets into its final form, but these countless life experiences trigger more and more memories.

In the meantime, I don’t want to haul those six filing cabinet drawers full of photos back to Montana like I did last winter. I just want the finished book to be interesting when you read it.

For more info about Warren’s wanderings, go to warrenmiller.net or visit him on his Facebook page at facebook.com/warrenmiller. To learn about the works of his foundation, visit the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, http://www.warrenmiller.org.


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