Guests: Warren Miller

Warren Miller: Schuss Flick King

Profile: Warren Miller
By Mike Steere

In his own words
"I liken it to showing a pornographic film on an aircraft carrier three days out of port. You can watch it--but you can't do it." (On the annual pre-ski-season release of his films.)

Born and raised in Hollywood, Miller first brokered sports images in the Boy Scouts, selling stills of his camping trips. He delivered papers to the home of Walt Disney, whose signature he emulates. After mustering out of the Navy, the young Miller bought an 8mm movie camera and in 1946 found himself ski-bumming in Sun Valley. After fortuitous property-for-promotional-movie deals with ski-resort developers and his company's later successes, he scrapes by no more. Miller and his wife, Laurie, have homes in Washington's San Juan Islands, Maui, and Colorado. They have three children and five grandchildren.

First impressions
If he's speaking, he's usually speaking his piece. But get him talking about skiing itself--not the skiing biz--and the crankiness and aggrievement cracks. Suddenly he's gentle, lyrical, almost New Agey in praise of sport on snow, where nobody keeps score.

The Deep Six
1) Who do you do it for?
"I do it for me. I've been a storyteller all my life. Apparently, people like to listen to the stories I tell. As long as they listen, I'll keep telling."

2) How will you top yourself?
"Practice, practice, practice. I'm not Joe Montana, having to quit because of physical limitations. My fingers do the walking [on the keyboard]. My brains do the talking."

3) What makes you angry?
"The perception that skiing is expensive. Divide the lift ticket price by eight hours, and it might be only $5-something an hour. People can still come to Colorado and stay in Glenwood Springs for $50 in a room with two king beds--that's $12.50 a person--and be 45 minutes from either Aspen or Vail. The wife cooks up some tuna casseroles, you eat at the Colonel. If anything makes resorts angry, it's when I talk this way."

4) What's your current focus?
"Writing. I'm attempting to get my column syndicated and trying to break into magazines with some of the stories I tell."

5) Who are your heroes?
"A guy who went to the Antarctic in 1914--Sir Ernest Shackleton. He spent 18 months on an ice floe on the Southern Ocean. Of 26 guys who were down there with him, one of them lost a foot. Part of that time was spent rowing a 20-foot boat, living on sea lions and penguins. He [Shackleton] was the ultimate survivor."

6) What scares you most?
"Creeping governmental management of industry--and skiing is an industry."

Warren Miller answers your questions
The king of ski films reveals all: how to get in a movie, why he avoids the bumps, how to break into the business, and, of course, where to buy his stuff.

Thanks for sending all your great questions!

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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