Photo by Ryan Creary
PARK CITY, UT (Nov. 13) - When the lights went down during a screening of Warren Miller's new film Children of Winter, Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) sat in the audience, along with everyone else in attendance, wondering what he was about to see. The only difference -- Sullivan had already lived through part of the film.
The annual Warren Miller ski film is narrated by 1998 Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley who also makes several appearances including catching some of Steamboat, Colorado's "champagne powder" with current U.S. Freestyle Ski Team athletes Michael Morse (Duxbury, MA) and Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT) as well as up-and-comer Joe Discoe (Telluride, CO). In addition, Moseley chronicles taking his family, or as he notes the "Mos-wold's" (in reference to the Griswold's from National Lampoon's Vacation) to Hakuba, Japan. There he kicks back with Japanese Olympian and former competitor Takehiro Sakamoto to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Moseley's gold medal from the Nagano Games.
Children of Winter has an assortment of U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes past and present including alpine alumni Jeremy Nobis (1994 Olympian) skiing Utah's "Greatest Snow on Earth" and Reggie Crist (1992 Olympian) taking on his home mountain in Sun Valley, ID. Also going big is U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Team athlete Ben Watts (Bend, OR) who shows viewers how to ride Oregon's Mt. Bachelor.
Hahnenkamm downhill champ Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) also has a segment in the flick but this one-time alpine team racer has rejoined the fold of the national team to chase victory on the ski cross circuit. Rahlves takes viewers on a tour of several of the legendary World Cup downhill spots including Kitzbuehel, Austria.
Sullivan and Wescott Start the Action
It is the opening segment with breathtaking views of Alaska that shocks and awes in the traditional Warren Miller fashion. Riding alongside Sullivan at the start is Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, ME). The two spent two weeks this spring flying in a helicopter around the Chugach mountains of Alaska in looking for the perfect line to shred.
"After the season I went up there for about three weeks to film and it was amazing," Sullivan said. "We got our own helicopter and we were just out flying around looking for the coolest stuff to ski."
"This year was my sixth year so for me it was the same plan as every April, but it was fun. It was great being up there with Marco," Wescott said. "It was the first time that I wasn't up there with my buddy Louie Castenholtz from Switzerland, so it was kind of cool to switch it up for a year."
While in Alaska, Wescott and Sullivan took their time picking out terrain that would make great additions to Miller's film, but they also had to be cautious with the spring conditions.
"It was late in the season so there were a lot of avalanches. We were just looking for snow that was stable," Sullivan said. "We were looking for the steepest mountains and the best lines. We even got to name a couple of our runs because it was stuff no one has ever skied before."
"For me, the biggest part of going back there year after year is learning more about the Chugach mountain range and hopefully the stars align and you get to ride some really good stuff - and every year we do," Wescott added.
According to Sullivan, who named his run 'Eight Bottle Throttle,' his unique name came from a hard learned lesson in safety that viewers might not catch on film, but that he'll likely remember forever.
"When you get in the helicopter, you're supposed to have your boots all buckled up because if they're not, they can get caught up on stuff in the back where we sat. So, I skied this line and we were all fired up and I just jumped in the heli and all eight of my buckles were undone," Sullivan explained. "The rule that the pilot had was that you owe him a bottle of wine for each buckle that you leave open and so I named the run 'Eight Bottle Throttle.'"
While he's no stranger to skiing, Sullivan says his Warren Miller filming experience has opened his eyes to an off-season lifestyle he hopes to continue in years to come.
"It's just a cool experience and a new element of skiing for me. Obviously I love skiing and I am into racing and freeskiing, but to be able to take it to that next level of being in a helicopter in Alaska with the sole goal of finding the sweetest lines, it was just another step for me," Sullivan said. "I know where I am going to be every spring now - I'm going to be up in Alaska because it's so sweet."
To catch Warren Miller's Children of Winter visit warrenmiller.com