Aspen skier George Rodney talks about his role in newest Warren Miller film
Someone once told Aspen skier George Rodney there are three ways to make it into the world of big time ski films: a skier must have talent, great sponsors or an immense amount of dumb luck (apparently voodoo also can come into play).
For Rodney, it was a combination of raw talent and sponsorship, meaning he didn’t have to delve into witchcraft. It was a surprising phone call last winter from one of his main sponsors, Volkl, that paved the way for the former Freeride World Tour champion to land a spot in this year’s Warren Miller film, “Line of Descent.”
The film has its only Aspen showing Saturday night at the Wheeler Opera House. The 68th feature to the famed filmmaker’s name, “Line of Descent” made its world debut earlier this fall.
“It’s a dream come true,” Rodney said of being in his first major ski film. “I’m always asking people how I get into these movies. It’s really the end goal. … To have that Warren Miller name attached gives you good credentials, for sure.”
Rodney has seen the show a few times, including in his hometown of Denver and in Salt Lake City, where he went to college, but the Aspen showcase is even more special. He came to Aspen almost every weekend during his childhood, and from the age of 8 to about 14 trained with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.
While he eventually moved to Park City, Utah, graduating from the Winter Sports School, the Roaring Fork Valley is where his skiing roots are. He moved to Aspen full-time over the summer — where he did a professional internship with Strafe Outerwear, another one of his key sponsors — and doesn’t plan to leave.
“This is where I learned how to ski and grew up skiing and this is where I love to ski the most out of anywhere in the entire world,” Rodney said of Aspen. “This is where I got my favorite group of guys to shred with, The Freaks, and I’m excited to share with all those boys what I’ve been up to.”
The film has little dialogue and features segments from across the globe, including here in Colorado at Steamboat Springs and Silverton. The idea of the film is to explore “the ties that bind ski culture,” according to the Warren Miller website.
“It’s how everyone who loves to be out in the winter and up in the mountains, they all have their different way of enjoying it, and it’s often because they have different lines of descent,” Rodney said. “It’s really cool, because it really encompasses why everyone loves action sports in the winter and how you can show who you are through your line of descent.”
Rodney’s segment is the show’s finale, filmed entirely in Silverton last winter. The opportunity to be a part of the film came in the middle of his final semester at the University of Utah. He was taking the full year off from the Freeride World Tour to finish up his degree in sports management and was thankful his teachers let him run off to Colorado for a month of skiing.
“Luckily, all my teachers were cool. They even knew who Warren Miller was,” Rodney said. “I was really pleased with how it turned out. We were skiing lines top to bottom that no one ever gets to ski.”
Rodney, 24, is treating Saturday’s show as somewhat of a big sendoff as well. Next week he heads to Japan, which hosts the first stop of the Freeride World Tour later this month. After winning the 2015 world title in his rookie year on the big mountain skiing tour, injuries limited him to only a few competitions in 2016 before he decided to completely sit out the 2017 season.
With his health back, college degree in hand and newfound fame thanks to Warren Miller, he’s feeling good about 2018.
The Freeride World Tour has four regular stops — Japan, Canada, Andorra and Austria — before the March 31 to April 8 finals in Switzerland.
“Last year was really cool to get back to the roots and to why I love to ski,” Rodney said. “This is kind of my comeback year in terms of defending the title. I’m feeling similar to how I was going into 2015.”