Chris Davenport, one of Warren Miller Entertainment’s veteran athletes, is gearing up for his ninth annual Ski with the Superstars camp. The week-long camp is held at the iconic South American ski resort of Portillo, Chile, which is also a favorite destination for WME camera crews. We caught up with him just after his overnight hike from Aspen to Crested Butte, CO, with 11-year old son Stian, to find out about the camp, who signs up, and why he keeps going back to Portillo.
The camp evolved out of a project that Davenport was working on with Skiing Magazine. Part of the motivation of the camp was a desire to keep working with the resort. “I had been hosting a photo contest for Skiing Magazine, but that kind of thing gets tired after a few years. So I came up with the idea for an all mountain ski camp,” says Davenport.
It wasn’t hard for Davenport to figure out a coaching staff for the camp; he merely called up a few friends, who happened to be former Olympians, world champions and freeskiing icons. The original staff was Mike Douglas, Shane McConkey, Wendy Fisher, and Chris Anthony. The staff is all the same, says Davenport, excepting the loss of Shane and the addition of freeski star Ingrid Backstrom.
Tapping into the burgeoning popularity of big mountain skiing in the public eye, the camp has been going strong for almost a decade, with a diverse clientele and a lot of repeat guests.
A big part of big mountain skiing is fitness for hiking and strength to go all day, and Davenport emphasizes that guests arrive in good cardiovascular shape. “The camp is open to all expert skiers looking to take their skiing to the next level. It’s a really fun vibe. We do some drills and work on skills, but mostly we just go out and ski hard in a variety of terrain, and we do a lot of hiking,” he explains. The camp is composed of skiers ranging in age from their teens to their 60’s, about 30% women, and skiers come from all over the globe.
The camp remains at Chile’s isolated and legendary Portillo year after year, and there are a few reasons, according to Davenport. “I fell in love with Portillo. The ambiance, the authenticity, the nostalgia there. It is all about skiing in Portillo: no shopping, no real estate, nothing! It is the perfect environment for improving skiing.”
According to Davenport, there are still some spots left open for 2012’s session, you can find out more at his website, chrisdavenport.com, and you can get more information on Portillo at skiportillo.com.