Vilar Performing Arts Center presents Warren Miller’s ‘Daymaker’ on the big screen Saturday
- What: Warren Miller’s ‘Daymaker’
- When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
- Tickets: $17-$35
- More info: VilarPAC.org
For 73 years, Warren Miller Entertainment has been stoking skiers and riders — and making them laugh. Its magic lies not only in the exhilarating athletic footage, but also in its storytelling, dosed with humor, from the retro days of poking fun at tourists tumbling off chairs to hilarious current-day commentary and antics by professional leisure athlete Katie Burrell.
Burrell has “retired from being brave, and I’m happier,” she says in the film, suggesting to big-mountain skiers Hedvig Wessel and Lexi duPont that maybe, just maybe, the gnarly mentality of “a cliff — I need to jump off it,” doesn’t have to drive their every action. Instead, she suggests, going around the cliff. (Of course, they ignore that advice.)
In addition to plenty of chuckles, the stories also have heart, beginning with Tyler Blocker, whom Olympic gold medalist (and “Daymaker” narrator) Jonny Mosley and ski pro Marcus Caston surprised last year at Snowbasin after Blocker’s dad submitted a video of him and won the Warren Miller sweepstakes. A year prior, Blocker caught an edge screaming down a groomer and nearly lost his life; he ruptured his spleen and lost a kidney, and doctors told him he’d need six months to recover. Within two weeks, he was skiing again, albeit, at first, not the hard-charging kind of skiing “Daymaker” filmmakers captured him smoothly pulling off as he conquered steep spine lines he said he’s been looking at all his life.
If a teenager coming back super-strong after a life-threatening fall isn’t inspiring enough for you, check out Pete McAfee, a single-leg amputee who debuted with Warren Miller Entertainment last year to attempt the first adaptive ski descent in Denali. This year, he joins fellow adaptive backcountry rider Dominic Davila to Heliski Canada’s big mountain terrain — and take a dip in an ice bath (initially testing the waters, naturally, with his prosthetic).
“Daymaker” captures the true definition of a ski bum with its sled skiing footage in Idaho. You know the drill: About all you do is think about, plan and do whatever it takes to snag that great line.
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And that’s exactly what Simon Hillis, Marcus Goguen and Maddison Rose Ostergren do at Mustang Lodge. Over and over and over again, they ski the deepest powder they’ve ever encountered. This footage will make you yearn as you’ve never yearned before; it takes face shots and the descriptor of needing a snorkel to the next level.
Vail hometown hero Ava “Happy Knees” Keenan makes an appearance with her dad as the film features the National Brotherhood of Skiers and its emerging talent. Keenan, who’s been a competitive mogul skier since she was 8, is ranked No. 1 in her skier age group, is the youngest to podium in this year’s Rocky Mountain Freestyle Comp Division and is the first Black skier to win a sanctioned RMF.
“I love (mogul skiing) because of the adrenaline it creates when you’re going as fast as you can down a mogul course and then have to hit a jump. There is nothing like it,” Keenan said. “Moguls force a skier to have range, and it pushes me to find my range. How fast can I go down a course? How direct down the fall line can I be? How big can I go on the airs? What tricks can I do on the airs? Mogul skiing is the only ski discipline that incorporates all of the elements of skiing: turning, air, speed, technique, etc. I love it because it’s complex and you can never be perfect at it. It keeps pulling me to get better, to improve.”
As part of “Daymaker’s” celebration of the 50th season of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, which returns to Vail this year for its anniversary, 83-year-old member Ben Finley talks about “the adrenaline that comes from pointing skis downhill.”
In keeping with a theme of diversity in terms of age, from 8 to 83, that “Daymaker” spans, it also bridges generations in terms of the soundtrack, from The Animals’ 1960s “It’s my Life” to thrasher music to reggae.
And, it doesn’t just stick to the snow: Connery Lundin shreds the rolling green hills of Switzerland on grass skis, and after watching him crash, you’ll be glad we have fluffy white stuff to slide down when things go sideways.
And, speaking of sideways, you won’t want to miss footage of a snowboarder encountering a huge slide while heliskiing in Haines, Alaska. As the radioman says, “Welcome to Alaska, bud.”
Just as Warren Miller’s passion for skiing took him worldwide, so, too, have John Falkiner’s skis. Falkiner is one of a cast of colorful characters who defined 1970s extreme skiing in the Alps. These days, he guides skiers in a place that’s probably not on most skiers’ radar: Greece, specifically the Olympus Range, where a small group of backcountry skiers explores this snow-covered part of southeastern Europe.
As “Daymaker” gloriously announces after just over two hours of spectacular, artistic and exhilarating footage: “Winter starts now.”