Athletes

Seth Wescott: Surgery to Sochi

Seth Wescott suffered a serious ACL injury last April and has been striving to comeback and claim his 3rd snowboard cross gold medal in the Sochi 2014 Olympics. These webisodes document his battle.

In April of 2013, Seth Wescott stared down an untouched, powder-filled line on a bluebird day in Alaska. He had no idea that the journey before him would include a torn ACL, possibly de-railing his 2014 Olympic aspirations. Nine months later, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will decide this week if he’s on the team. To support Seth, we'd like to feature these webisodes that document his battle to comeback and claim his 3rd snowboard cross gold medal in Sochi.

TEASER - Seth Wescott: Surgery to Sochi from Sugarloaf on Vimeo.

Episode 1: Surgery to Sochi from Sugarloaf on Vimeo.

Surgery to Sochi: Episode 2 from Sugarloaf on Vimeo.

Chris Anthony's Youth Initiative Project

The Mission of the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project is to improve quality of life through introducing youth to educational enrichment opportunities.

Warren Miller Entertainment is proud to partner up with Warren Miller Athlete Chris Anthony and his Youth Initiative Project. Do you have a 4th or 5th Grader? Set up a school visit with Chris Anthony. In his school visits, Chris calls upon segments from Warren Miller films he has appeared in over the last 24 years to take kids on a global journey with a simple message: if you can dream it, than set a goal for yourself and reach for it.

To learn more about his Youth Initiative Project which includes school visits, visit ChrisAnthony.com/youth-initiative

The Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project will launch it’s scholarship program in 2013/2014. The goal is to provide financial assistance or scholarship through relationships with creditable organizations to deserving youth who have an interest in educational enrichment opportunities or courses in the field of athletics, music, academics, and arts.


Would you like to support this opportunity? Be part of the Project’s Scholarship Fund. Make a tax-deductible donation here:
Dontate

 

Booking Contact: Kelly – Skidynamic@hotmail.com


Keely Kelleher and Crystal Wright in Montana

Keely Kelleher and Crystal Wright film a segment in Montana for the upcoming film, Ticket to Ride. We caught up with these natives of the west to find out why Montana is so special, not just for the skiing, but also for the people and the beautiful landscape.

The ladies of next year’s Montana segment are no strangers to skiing in the west: Keely Kelleher grew up on a ranch near Big Sky, Montana, and Crystal Wright is a Jackson Hole, Wyoming native and accomplished rodeo rider. With their skiing and cowgirl skills, they may as well be the poster girls for Western ski culture, so it is only fitting that they show Alaska-native Elyse Saugstad around their dual stomping grounds – ranches and ski mountains - in Ticket to Ride.

The trip takes the three athletes back to where Keely grew up and Crystal attended college, skiing both Bridger Bowl and Big Sky. According to Keely who, like Crystal and Elyse, has skied all over the world, coming home to ski is like nothing else. “It’s hard to describe skiing in Montana. Everything feels bigger, the sky, the mountains, the kindness you find in the locals,” said Keely. “I think it’s something everyone in his or her lifetime has to experience and not just for the skiing, but for the people you’ll meet and the beauty you’ll see.”

Wild west adventures, from runaway pickup trucks to powder stashes punctuated the trip. “I think this was good initiation into the cowgirl skier world for Elyse,” said Keely. “Even though Elyse is a badass Alaskan woman, I’m sure she had a chuckle and eye opening experience on the Lazy Shamrock Ranch [the name given to their land by Keely’s dad].

“We had a ton of fun. We got to bounce around in an old truck and sing "save a horse, ride a cowgirl," which was pretty funny! I used to love that song when I was on the rodeo team for Montana State, so it brought back good memories,” said Crystal.

Her love for the state and the skiing creates a conundrum for Keely. “I want to keep my home a secret but I find its hard not to tell people about how beautiful and remarkable it is here,” she explains. “You have the big resorts and big skiing in Big Sky or Whitefish Mountain, but then you’ll get on back roads on your way to places like Maverick ski area, or ride the slow double chairlifts at Showdown ski area, where you’ll meet the old rancher with skis out of the 70’s who tears up moguls better than anyone you’ve seen. But he’ll never tell you that!”

Even with globe-trotting ski trips behind them, the charms of western skiing keeps a strong hold on the two skiers. “The big thing about skiing in places like Montana and Jackson is there are not as many people and the resorts are not as built up,” Crystal said. “It is truly big sky country. It is definitely different skiing than in the Alps or the Andes, but it has its own special small town feel with still amazing mountains that I love.”

Keely concurs, and while she may say she wants to keep it a secret, she can’t help but tell everyone how wonderful the local culture and mountains are. “Montana ski culture is never a scene or a proving ground; the people simply enjoy skiing and their way of life and they want to share it with you,” she said. “My favorite part is they’ll never be too caught up in themselves to forget to wave to you on the road to the ski hill.”

Snowboarders Rob Kingwill and Seth Wescott Team Up in Valdez

Some of snowboarding’s best come out to film with WME each season. This year, veteran pro-snowboarder Rob Kingwill and Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott went to Alaska with Valdez Heli-Ski Guides to film an all-snowboard big mountain segment for Ticket to Ride. We caught up with Rob to get all the details of their epic trip.

Since Warren Miller’s first film came out in 1949, things have changed a lot in snowsports – most notably with the addition of snowboarding. With Warren Miller Entertainment still documenting the best, most fun, and most inspiring things that can be done on snow, no film is complete these days without including both skiers and snowboarders. While WME films are still heavily weighted in favor of skiing, some of snowboarding’s best and brightest come out each season to represent the sport and connect with the audience. Veteran pro snowboarder, big mountain athlete and entrepreneur Rob Kingwill has ridden in four WME films, including a trip to Alaska this past year to film an all-snowboard big mountain segment with Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott. Although the trip didn’t come together until the last minute, everything fell into place perfectly, according to Rob. “Seth is one of my best friends and favorite people to ride with, and we have been trying to organize a good AK trip for years,” he said. “This time, everything finally fell into place and we crushed it up there!” For snowboarders like Rob, who is an extremely enthusiastic ambassador of the sport, being able to share his vision of snowboarding to a broader audience, and even inspire skiers to give the sport a try is one of best things about filming with WME. “I love sharing my passion for snowboarding with the world. I hope that the audience can see how fun and graceful snowboarding is,” he says. This trip, the two athletes and the crew lucked out with incredibly cooperative conditions and nailed a great shoot. They flew with Valdez Heli Ski Guides, and based themselves out of the spectacular new Tsaina Lodge. “We were blessed with a ton of sunny days, which is quite unusual on Thompson Pass! Sometimes you can sit for weeks with no sun,” said Rob. “And the snow was stable and the lightest I have ever ridden in AK. I rode some of the biggest steepest couloirs of my life while we were filming this year- and we had so many good days in a row, it started to wear on my nerves a little bit!” According to Rob, this was actually one of the biggest challenges of the trip: stepping it up for the camera and maintaining such a high level of focus for so many days in a row with no break due to weather. That, however, is a problem of the sort that every film and athlete crew would like to have on a trip. The conditions were matched by the good pairing of athletes, as athlete chemistry is also a really important part of a trip going well. “Seth is one of my favorite people to ride with, and we just feed off the stoke from each other and try to push our limits. We both have a ton of AK experience, so it is nice to have someone you really trust to assess the dangers involved in riding some of the lines up there, and have confidence that we have each others backs,” said Rob. All in all, it sounds as though the snowboarders will sneak in under the radar with what will be one of the all around best segments of next year’s film. Rob sums it up, saying “It is always an honor and pleasure to film with WME, because they make sure everything is set up so you can focus on the riding and creating a great segment – and it really was one of the best trips of my life!”

The Legend of Jumping Scot Schmidt

We dug into the archives to take a look back at the 1986 SnoWorld article that documents Scot Schmidt's transition from B-circuit ski racer to daring, world-renowned freeskier and skilebrity.

Most skiers who have become identifiable by more than family and friends have won gold medals or set speed records. Scot Schmidt gained recognition by leaping off cliffs.

For Scot, the route to the edge of a cliff began in Helena, Montana, and had its roots in a promising racing career. After graduating from high school in 1979, Scot moved west to Squaw Valley to continue the search for points and ever higher rungs on the competition ladder.

"My goal at the time was to be a professional ski racer," Scot said. "My points were really good, but I didn't have the money to travel and go to the FIS races that I qualified for.

"I was working five days a week and racing and training on weekends. That’s when my results got worse and worse. I wanted to race professionally, but there weren't any B circuits at that time, so I just raced in fun races.

"I worked for the race department in Squaw Valley as a pace setter and a course setter for the Nastar program."

Squaw Valley has terrain that can be a challenge to any skier accustomed to speed. Scot's adventures in the upper reaches of Squaw Valley led to his first appearance in a Warren Miller film.

"I had developed a reputation as being one of the more daring skiers at Squaw Valley. One day Warren Miller showed up with a camera crew and they asked me to ski for them.

"We had a perfect day - the snow was good, everything right for jumping and skiing some chutes. When Warren Miller saw the footage, he was really impressed.

"I got a letter a couple of weeks later saying that it was the most exciting footage he'd seen in a long time and asked me if I would be interested in going along the next time he filmed in a foreign country. I wrote back and said yes."

Scot Schmidt's first appearance in a Warren Miller movie was in "Ski Time" doing what he does best at Squaw Valley. He appeared again in "Ski Country" and" Steep and Deep" skiing in New Zealand, and is back again this year skiing in the Alps in "Beyond the Edge."

Jumping for Scot is that extra dimension that most of us look for but rarely find in our own skiing.

"Jumping is a little like downhill racing. I free ski mostly on 220 cm downhill racing skis. Squaw Valley is good for jumping, because it's well groomed and you can get a lot of speed. There are cornices, ridges and cliffs. It's fun going fast off those things."

"My racing background helps my jumping ability. I don't know what makes me any better than anyone else. But I guess it's being used to speed. Downhill was my best event. I always enjoyed downhill racing.

"I had considered doing some speed skiing, but I'm not too interested. It involves a lot of sidestepping. You spend all day getting up the mountain for one or two runs. It is also expensive. I didn't have the money for the suit, the helmet and all the special equipment it takes."

Is it possible to make a living on skis without being a world-class racer?

"There isn't a lot of money in making ski movies, but I've been happy to do it. It's been a living. I've been able to travel all over the world, so I can't hold down a regular job. I spent most of last winter in Europe and some time this summer in Argentina. We had a fantastic time.

"I'm signing sponsor contracts this year. It's mainly because of my being in Warren's movies that all these things are happening. The guys in Warren's office are really good and they are doing a lot of negotiating for me. They're good to work with."

After traveling in Europe and skiing in New Zealand and South America, Scot still considers Squaw Valley his favorite place to ski.

"I like Squaw Valley," Scot said, "but because of insurance rates, some of the steepest chutes and places we used to ski have been closed. So the good old days are gone. We can't do what we used to do.

"There's no problem like that in Europe. That's why I enjoy Europe so much. You can do whatever you want to do. Everything is so much bigger and it's not patrolled the way it is in the U.S. You have to be very careful. There is avalanche danger and there are glaciers everywhere, so there are holes and crevasses to look out for. It can be dangerous."

In Europe, Scot worked with two different cameramen. Fletcher Manley was in Europe for about six weeks, and Gary Nate shot additional footage near the end of the season. For Scot, it was his first trip to Europe and first experience traveling in Europe.

"The weather was really never very good," Scot said. "There were very few sunny days, and we sat around for weeks waiting for the sun to come out. The skiing was about like I expected. The areas are just so big. The things you can do there are endless.

"But the jumbos I've done at Squaw Valley will be the biggest I'll do. I think I've reached my limit and I don't expect to jump any higher than I already have.

"I've probably jumped 130 feet, vertically about 80 feet. That's about like jumping off the top of an eight-story building. The last big jump I did, I was coming in so fast that it was really scary - but that's what made it so much fun. After that landing, I knew I couldn't go much higher.

"I've always liked the challenge. Sometimes I'm not sure I want to do what I'm doing, but I'll end up doing it anyway because I like pushing myself. I think that's the greatest thrill."

Cliff jumping isn't a subject likely to be taught in even the most advanced ski classes, so anyone interested in exploring that other world will be self taught.

"You don't want to go up there and start leaping off things," Scot said. "I worked myself up to the bigger things by starting off with little cornices and cliffs. I got a pretty good feel for what I could handle and what I couldn't

"At Squaw Valley we had the 90 meter Olympic jump. Four years ago we could pack it out and run that. I think going off the 90-meter hill on downhill skis was one of the greatest thrills I've ever had.

"We did it a number of times. We would just climb all morning, ump and then go skiing in the afternoon. We got about the same distance with downhill skis as we would have with jumping skis. We were landing on the lower end of the steep section just before the compression. I'm not sure how far it is - almost 90 meters."

Although skiing north of the equator in the winter and south of the equator in the summer make skiing almost a year around occupation, Scot has been developing his boardsailing skills while living in Santa Cruz, California.

"I'm starting to get into it professionally," Scot said. "I’m sponsored by O'Niell, The North Face and Windwing designs. Windwing makes my sails.

"Windsurfing is definitely an advanced sport. With eight-foot wave boards, the thrill is the same as skiing. It's not one of the most difficult things I've learned, but it's good for me because I'm learning something new. I've done so much skiing it's nice to get the same thrill out of doing something else."

After a few days windsurfing in the fall, Scot was scheduled to appear with Warren Miller at some of the showings of "Beyond the Edge."

"It's fun seeing the response of the audience to the movie," Scot said. "People really enjoy the shows - they're great. It's fun to share that experience.

"I know there are a lot of kids gunning for me now. When I do the shows and they see what I do, they think I have the greatest job in the world. There will probably be some young guys going for it. I like that. I really enjoy what I am doing now."

 - Published in the 1986 SnowWorld

 

Skiing the Swiss Alps with Doug Coombs, Seth Morrison, Shane Szocs and Glen Plake: Vintage Clip of the Week

Doug Coombs used to run big mountain ski camps above the Swiss town of Verbier. In this clip he invited some of his friends, old and new. What a year to be a camper! That's because they got to ski with legends like Seth Morrison, Shane Szocs and Glen Plake.

Click HERE to watch hundreds of clips on our YouTube channel.

Neon and Near-Death Experiences: Vintage Clip of the Week

John and Dan Egan are carpenters from Vermont. They barely escaped death after breaking off a cornice as big as a 3 story apartment building before it fell over 1,000 ft. in 1990's Extreme Winter.

Click HERE to watch hundreds of clips on our YouTube channel.

Aspen Spora's Flow State Video Blog

Hey, it's Aspen! I just wanted to share my latest video blog. This was from Royal Oak, MI, my last stop of all the Flow State premiers.

Hey, it's Aspen!

I just wanted to share my latest video blog. This was from Royal Oak, MI, my last stop of all the Flow State premiers. Thanks so much for letting me experience such awesomeness. It means a lot to me.

Also, if you want to check out my other video blogs, they document all of my experiences that I treasure from being a part of the Flow State film tour.

Thanks again,
Aspen

Click here to watch Aspen's other videos.

The Rahlves Banzai Tour

Although ESPN recently dropped ski and boarder-cross from the Winter X-Games, Daron Rahlves is keeping the sport alive with his own version of the event. Founded in 2009, The Rahlves Banzai Tour is a public event composed of a mix of ski racing, big mountain skills and Chinese downhill.

ESPN’s popular Winter X-Games recently announced it was dropping ski and boarder-cross from the events list, shocking the sport and its fans. Warren Miller Entertainment athlete Daron Rahlves, an Olympic medalist in ski racing, as well as in skier-cross at the X-Games was one of those caught off guard, and disappointed, by the decision.

Rahlves, however, as a passionate racer and fan of ski and boarder cross had already created his own imaginative version of the event – and named it the Rahlves Banzai Tour. A mix of ski racing, big mountain skills and Chinese downhill, the event is open to the public. Racers run four at a time from the top of mountain to the bottom, over varied and natural terrain…hand-selected by Rahlves.

The races haves been steadily gaining in popularity since Rahlves organized the first race in 2009, and an official 4-stop tour in 2011. The event scored an appearance in last year’s WME film and on NBC’s Red Bull Signature Series. We caught up with Rahlves to find out more about his tour and why it might be great training for the pros despite the X-Games disappointment.

 

My goal is to provide the best ski and snowboard race on the planet where the most skilled, calculated, creative and aggressive natural terrain skier/rider with finesse will come out on top. With four at a time anything can happen and the fastest doesn't usually win. What makes this event so relatable is it's held on open runs off the groomers that the public skis. I set the track with the emphasis on flow, terrain, speed changes and overall fun. No one type of ski is an advantage - run whatcha brung! 

The loss of the X-Games could be a great opportunity for the Rahlves' Banzai Tour in getting more competitors and big names to compete. There is no other event like this in the world. The prize money makes a nice pay-day, and the title of Banzai Champ is well respected.

I'd like to see the big guns come out and give it a shot. There will be competition from the locals and others who come out for these events that know how to get down the mountain.

I hope they're not scared of putting their reputation on the line. Come on. How'd you get to that level anyway?

For 2013 the Rahlves' Banzai Tour is planning on four stops like last year. It will take place in February and March 2013. All events will be in the Tahoe area, with a cap of 150 competitors at each event 2012 it was a huge success. Then we have the "Super Finals" where I race against the men ski winners from each stop. It's the only time on tour I get in the mix to put my title of "Banzai Master" on the line and a wad of cash waiting for the winner if I'm dethroned. Fortunately in 2012 I kept the title and was able to pay the rest of the tour's bills.

Registration will be open December 2012 on the website and is open to men and women skiers and snowboarders, 18-years old and up. We also raise money for The High Fives Foundation to do good for our community on top of a wild event. It will be a good time for everyone involved with parties on top of the action. Race dates will be posted on www.rahlvesbanzai.com.

Does Kevin Quinn Go To Burning Man?

It’s off-season for Points North Heli-Adventure’s owner Kevin Quinn and he's prepping his plane to fly another round of partygoers to the infamous Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.

It’s off-season for Points North Heli-Adventure’s owner Kevin Quinn, meaning he is down at Lake Tahoe, CA, but for Quinn, it’s never actually ‘off’ season. Chauffering people via air to fun stuff is what makes the PNH owner, operator, and lead guide tick. As in, right now, Quinn is having a blast prepping his plane, a 1953 Cessna equipped with giant bush tires, to fly another round of partygoers to the infamous Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.  
This curious endeavor is perfectly normal for Quinn, who comes from a family heritage of Alaskan bush pilots and clearly suffers from an obsession with aviation.
“The best way to describe the plane is a dune buggy with wings,” Quinn says gleefully about his Cessna, sounding like a kid explaining his or her dream bicycle. “I do this every year -  I take 30 or 40 people up to Burning Man, they help me pay for the fuel. It’s just about a 30-minute flight.”
The plane, which fits just about 3 or 4 people plus gear, makes multiple drops, and then, according to Quinn, most of the passengers find their own way back after the festival. For making all these trips, however, he admits he’s never actually been inside the festival gates. “I’d like to go sometime, for one day and night, just to say I’ve been, but it’s not really my cup of tea,” he said.
This of course, is just as well, since even though Alaska heli-ski season seems far away, the attention it takes to maintain the successful business, which is now the largest heli-ski operation in the US, is never ending. “[PNH] is constant, year-round work,” says Quinn. “I’m always looking to upgrade – for example, we launched a non-motorized ski touring operation up there two years ago, and that has taken off like wildfire. We’re almost sold out for next year already.” 
In addition to flying the Burning Man air taxi, gliders, and whatever else he can get off the ground, Quinn spends a full 40-hour work week on PNH, even in August. “I work on permitting, and of course I talk to guests and potential clients.  We [Quinn owns PNH with his wife and fellow ski guide Jessica] do everything ourselves. We haven’t hired any outside help – but we are passionate about what we do. I’ve never met anyone who said they didn’t want to go heli-skiing.”
Quinn, who skis in this year’s Warren Miller Entertainment film in the PNH segment in Alaska, also hops back and forth to his native Alaska in the summer, running client fishing trips in remote and wild Katmai National Park. “All my aunts and uncles run fishing lodges now, and Alaska is in my heart and soul for sure.”   
When it comes time to relax, for at least five or six minutes at a time, and enjoy some summer weather, Tahoe still gets a little credit on the PNH radar. “Tahoe is a pretty beautiful place, Quinn admits. “Squaw Valley is my second home.” 
Check out Kevin Quinn and Points North Heliskiing in this year’s film Warren Miller’s Flow State. 

It’s off-season for Points North Heli-Adventure’s owner Kevin Quinn, meaning he is down at Lake Tahoe, CA, but for Quinn, it’s never actually ‘off’ season. Chauffering people via air to fun stuff is what makes the PNH owner, operator, and lead guide tick. As in, right now, Quinn is having a blast prepping his plane, a 1953 Cessna equipped with giant bush tires, to fly another round of partygoers to the infamous Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.  

This curious endeavor is perfectly normal for Quinn, who comes from a family heritage of Alaskan bush pilots and clearly suffers from an obsession with aviation.

“The best way to describe the plane is a dune buggy with wings,” Quinn says gleefully about his Cessna, sounding like a kid explaining his or her dream bicycle. “I do this every year -  I take 30 or 40 people up to Burning Man, they help me pay for the fuel. It’s just about a 30-minute flight.”

The plane, which fits just about 3 or 4 people plus gear, makes multiple drops, and then, according to Quinn, most of the passengers find their own way back after the festival. For making all these trips, however, he admits he’s never actually been inside the festival gates. “I’d like to go sometime, for one day and night, just to say I’ve been, but it’s not really my cup of tea,” he said.

This of course, is just as well, since even though Alaska heli-ski season seems far away, the attention it takes to maintain the successful business, which is now the largest heli-ski operation in the US, is never ending. “[PNH] is constant, year-round work,” says Quinn. “I’m always looking to upgrade – for example, we launched a non-motorized ski touring operation up there two years ago, and that has taken off like wildfire. We’re almost sold out for next year already.” 

In addition to flying the Burning Man air taxi, gliders, and whatever else he can get off the ground, Quinn spends a full 40-hour work week on PNH, even in August. “I work on permitting, and of course I talk to guests and potential clients.  We [Quinn owns PNH with his wife and fellow ski guide Jessica] do everything ourselves. We haven’t hired any outside help – but we are passionate about what we do. I’ve never met anyone who said they didn’t want to go heli-skiing.”

Quinn, who skis in this year’s Warren Miller Entertainment film in the PNH segment in Alaska, also hops back and forth to his native Alaska in the summer, running client fishing trips in remote and wild Katmai National Park. “All my aunts and uncles run fishing lodges now, and Alaska is in my heart and soul for sure.”   

When it comes time to relax, for at least five or six minutes at a time, and enjoy some summer weather, Tahoe still gets a little credit on the PNH radar. “Tahoe is a pretty beautiful place, Quinn admits. “Squaw Valley is my second home.” 

Check out Kevin Quinn and Points North Heliskiing in this year’s film Warren Miller’s Flow State

 

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