Warren Miller – from ski bum to industry icon
Miller, a fine athlete, is an expert surfer, sailor of catamarans, ski instructor, author, columnist, humorist, entertainer and all-around nice guy. During March, a year or so before Vail opened, Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton took Miller to the top of the mountain. He was very impressed; in fact, he started telling his friends, “Buy your piece of paradise now.”
Then, in March 1963, he spent five days making the first of four or five Vail stories for his films. In fact, Vail was highlighted in his annual Warren Miller’s Ski Show some 20 times in more than 30 years. Miller and his family were also the subject of a White Stag ad for Ski Magazine, which was made in Vail in 1964.
In 1986, after traveling the world making ski movies, he decided to settle down and bought a place in Vail. It was what he wanted to do at that point in his life. He said that the decision was made with zero commercial effect. His wife, Laurie, and he did it on their own. Vail was where they wanted to be. It was a good move. George Gillett, owner of Vail at that time, commissioned Miller to make a major promotional film of Vail – “There’s No Comparison.”
During the founding years of Vail, most of us who had spent considerable time skiing at Sun Valley still considered it one of the best places in the country. That sentiment certainly wasn’t returned. The devotees of Sun Valley, which was the most elite resort at the time, pooh-poohed their new competition. They said that Vail didn’t have good, challenging skiing.
“The last time I skied Vail, I was cruising along, fell asleep, and hit a tree, said one of Miller’s old friends from Sun Valley, Charley McWilliams, a superb racer.
Today, because Vail has become so popular, several Sun Valley regulars have moved to Vail to enjoy the larger variety of ski runs.
“We moved to Vail because the mountain was so much bigger,” Miller said, “but also found that the size of the mountain paled by comparison to the size of the people who were here.”
When Miller kindly said that he would write a foreword to this book, he told me that he would have to work hard at disassociating himself from the emotional involvement. The book, he said, was so readable to people who didn’t know the inventors of Vail. He had a deep attachment to almost everyone in the book.
The people of Vail are proud of the man who, through his filmmaking, did so much for the sport of skiing. Warren Miller for years has been one of the most well-known and famous names in the ski world.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 128th installment, an excerpt from chapter 15, “The Rich and the Famous.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.