Warren Miller Forever Changed the World of Skiing

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The iconic ski filmmaker dies at home at the age of 93.

Generations of skiers grew up going to Warren Miller movies at the start of each winter season, and it became a rite of passage for skiers and their families. So when Miller died on Wednesday night, at home in Orcas Island, Washington, at the age of 93, according to a statement issued by his family, the news impacted skiers of all ages.

“Warren essentially invented the action sports film,” Todd Jones, co-founder of Teton Gravity Research, told the Co-op Journal. “At the bottom of it all, he was a true ski bum who set his life up with the sole intention of traveling the world and skiing. His impact on the genre of ski films will live in eternity.”

Pro skiers weighed in on Miller’s influence on their lives, too.

“Thanks, Warren. I wouldn’t be on this chair, on these trips and on this career path if it wasn’t for you near single-handedly making ski movies a worldwide phenomenon,” pro skier Cody Townsend said on Instagram. “Your influence on skiing and skiers cannot be overstated.”

“He started the ski movie industry and made it possible for a lot of us to become pro skiers,” tweeted pro skier Grete Eliassen.

Warren Miller near Matterhorn

Photo Courtesy: Warren Miller Co.

Miller debuted his first ski movie, Deep and Light, in 1950, with footage shot in places like Sun Valley and Mammoth, and he made 600 films of varying lengths since. Although he stopped working with his eponymous film company, Warren Miller Entertainment, in the early 2000s, his memorable and hilarious narration will forever be tied to ski movies. In his films, he used to say things like, “The best thing about skiing backward is you can see where you’ve been.”

His films traveled to far-flung locales like Switzerland, New Zealand and Japan, whisking viewers along for the journey, but they also celebrated family-oriented skiing at homegrown ski hills around North America. In addition to being a Hollywood-born filmmaker, Miller was also a writer, a cartoonist, a World War II veteran and most of all, a dedicated and lifelong skier. “One day I was planning to get footage at Stowe, but it would not stop snowing, so I gave up and skied my brains out instead,” Miller wrote in his 2016 autobiography, Freedom Found.

“His impact on our sport is beyond measurement.”

Miller had an inkling of his influence. “Today, 65 years later, people occasionally stop to tell me how they grew up watching my ski films,” he wrote in his book. “The ski season did not start until the local ski club or ski shop rented the latest film. … Looking back on what set my films apart, it was the emphasis on entertaining people that made all the difference, and that means making them laugh.”

He was also among the first filmmakers to tour his movies to shops, theaters and schools around the country, essentially creating the modern-day ski movie tour.

“Warren invented the ski movie tour. He lived it. This was not a job. It was a passion that found him,” said Chris Anthony, an athlete and emcee with Warren Miller Entertainment for the last 27 years. “Generations of families passed the tradition along. People changed their lives, moved and saw the world differently because of Warren. His impact on our sport is beyond measurement.”

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