Nov 122003
Authors: Chris Hess

“Let’s get freaky.”

Those were the words uttered by the 78-year-old Warren Miller as

his 54th annual ski film officially brought winter to Fort Collins

last Saturday.

This year’s film “Journey” took the sold-out Lincoln Center

audience all over the globe. The night started in Portillo, Chile,

and ended in Verbier, Switzerland, with stops in places like

Norway, Alaska and Colorado’s own Copper Mountain.

A soundtrack including music by The Allman Brothers Band, Grits,

Afro Celt Sound System and Pearl Jam accompanied the film, but

could barely be heard over the cheers of the enthused crowd.

“I thought it was great,” said senior education major Scott

DesBois. “I wish there was more snowboarding, but besides that it

was just sick.”

This year’s installment of the legendary film series did contain

mostly skiing, but not the kind you can find by driving three hours

to Summit County. We’re talking about pros descending the kinds of

mountains that the Jackass himself, Johnny Knoxville, would shudder

to even look at.

One such segment was filmed in Chamonix, France, the homeland of

big-mountain skiing. During the film, two-time world extreme ski

champion Doug Coombs described the legendary skiers haven as

having, “the steepest lift-accessible terrain in all the


In Chamonix, once you step off of the Aiguille du Midi lift,

chutes and trails that lead 9,000 vertical feet to the valley floor

are the only way down, and you have to repel to get to some of

them. In one of “Journey’s” highlights, Coombs descends a chute no

more that 20 yards wide that would be hard to walk down, let alone


The film, however, wasn’t without its lighter side. During the

segment filmed in Portillo, Chile, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team members

Dave Babic and Toby Dawson decided they liked the place so much

that they flipped over it, literally. The two wild boys built a

kicker on the roof of the resort lodge and did back flips over the

unsuspecting diners on the patio. Seeing people spill coffee all

over themselves has never been so hilarious.

Also, Mohawk-adorning ski legend Glen Plake had an entire part

of “Journey” dedicated to him and his home resort of Heavenly in

Lake Tahoe, Calif. Whoever says that skiing is for old lame guys

doesn’t know what they’re talking about, because Plake is the

hippest old guy in the world.

To end the film, Miller composed a highlight reel of snowboard

pioneer Craig Kelly and his greatest moments with the Warren Miller

film crew. Kelly lost his life last year in an avalanche in British

Colombia. The tribute perfectly portrayed Kelly’s smooth and

influential riding style as Pearl Jam’s “I Am Mine” played over the


At the end of the tribute, the house was silent, except for

Warren Miller’s voice, assuring the crowd, “That’s all for now.

I’ll see you next year, same time, same place.”





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