I’ve never tried to keep my Scot Schmidt mancrush a secret (I wrote about it here in 2009). And so it was with a certain nostalgic thrill that I settled down on the couch with a glass of bourbon to watch the first ski film made by Greg Stump in 18 years (nevermind that I was drinking milk the last time I settled down on a couch to watch a Stump film for the first time). I’m part of a generation of skiers weaned on Stump films and I fondly remember gawking at the world premiere of Blizzard of Aahhh’s in a dark theater in Portland, Maine (Stump was, after all—as I proudly announced to anyone who would listen—like me, a Mainer).
But calling Legend a ski film isn’t entirely accurate. Yeah, it’s partly that, but it’s also part historical documentary, part ski pornography, and part autobiography. It’s also an attempt by a truly important ski filmmaker to bronze his legacy in the ski-film genre—an ultimately unnecessary effort given the impact his earlier films had on so many skiers’ lives, but I suppose every film needs to have a purpose.
New revelations range from the interesting—Barry Levinson, now owner of Ski Racing Development, helped introduce Stump to Trevor Horn and The Buggles (anyone remember “Video Killed the Radio Star”?), which led to Stump’s then-groundbreaking use of live music in ski films—to the shocking—a crusty Warren Miller admits to never having seen Stump’s Blizzard of Aahhh’s, arguably the most important ski film in the last 40 years. Stump even admits to having left the genre because he didn't want to see any of his talent die in front of the lens.
It’s self-congratulatory, but in a mild and tolerable way, because Stump deserves to be congratulated. His career was a rebellion “against the status quo of the American ski film,” as he says about an hour in. A successful one, too. More than anything, his films were—and are—fun to watch and they stoked the fire in pumped-up teens like me. In Legend—packed as it is with archival footage, trippy ambient tunes, history, education, and reappearances from Schmidt, Plake, Hattrup, and the rest of the old band—Stump sings a rollicking and fitting swan song.
For a trailer and screening schedule, visit dandeentertainment.com/legend-of-aahhhs.