Aspen Times Weekly: A Warren Miller double-feature at the Wheeler |

Aspen Times Weekly: A Warren Miller double-feature at the Wheeler

Ian McIntosh skis Portillo, Chile in "Warren Miller's Chasing Shadows."
Court Leve/Courtesy photo |

When the falderal of the holidays pass, when the celebrities jet away and the road traffic eases and the festival of wealth culture that is late December here comes to an end, then Aspen returns to what it is now and always has been: a ski town. Sure, the picture most of the world has of Aspen is of that a glittering place where the fabulous and fur-clad gather. But if you spend enough time here, it’s clear that it’s a community of people who have oriented their lives around the idea of sliding down mountains on sticks.

And there may be no off-the-slopes tradition more universal and time-honored in ski towns than gathering to watch the annual Warren Miller ski movie when his tour comes to town.

This year, the Wheeler Opera House is hosting a Miller double-feature on Jan. 9, showing Warren Miller Entertainment’s two winter releases: “Chasing Shadows” and “Streif.”

“Chasing Shadows” follows skiers and snowboarders to the slopes of Chamonix, Alaska’s Chugach, Utah’s Wasatch and into the Himalayas. Among the featured athletes are JT Holmes, Seth Wescott, Caroline Gleich, Steven Numan and Marcus Caston, and segments include one segment on powder surfing and another on a mono-ski gathering in Jackson Hole.

“Streif,” an acclaimed portrait of Austria’s Hahnenkamm World Cup race following five top downhillers, isn’t a proper Miller movie: it was produced by Red Bull Media House, one of the countless production companies that followed in his footsteps. But Miller’s company is touring it around the U.S. through 2016.

Miller, now 91, and his Warren Miller Entertainment, has been making ski movies annually now for 66 years, though he doesn’t actually get behind the camera anymore. The skiing and filming equipment may have evolved over the decades, but Miller’s movies and their celebration of life on snow are timeless.

Twenty-four of his movies have featured Aspen. The Aspen Skiing Co. recently announced it was honoring the ski film legend by dedicating a trail on each of its four local mountains for those movies. So before the movies on Saturday, you can cruise Aspen Mountain’s “Silver Bell,” which has been temporarily dubbed in honor of Miller’s 1957 entry “Anyone for Skiing?” You can drop into Snowmass’ Cirque Headwall, which is renamed for 2006’s “Higher Ground.” Or rip down Buttermillk’s “Racer’s Edge,” tagged for Miller’s 2013 offering “Ticket to Ride.” At Highlands, “Steep and Deep,” is already named after Miller’s 1985 movie.

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