By R. Scott Rappold
It's that time of year. There's a chill in the air, snow on the highest peaks and winter is so close you can almost touch it.
But we still have a few weeks until most Colorado resorts open, so what's the skiing addict to do?
The answer, of course, is to watch a ski movie. Some call it "ski porn," for the drool-inducing effect these movies can have on skiers. From groundbreaking films by director Warren Miller in the '50s to goofball comedies of the '80s to the current generation of directors pushing the envelope of intense backcountry skiing, these movies will have you out waxing your skis and making winter hotel reservations.
Here are some of the best.
Blizzard of AAHHHS
Like the name suggests, this groundbreaking 1988 film still has the power to drop your jaw. Nobody had filmed anything like this before, with athletes dropping cliffs and shooting down dangerously narrow couloirs, long before most ski areas offered such terrain. It's even more amazing when you consider that powder skis had yet to be invented.
Steep and Deep
Warren Miller directed more than 50 ski movies between 1950 and 2005, movies that mixed his passion for the ski bum life with a sense of humor about it all (especially people who don't know how to get off the lift.) This 1985 film may be his magnum opus, more off-piste, out-of-bounds snow-riding and less campy humor, and it convinced a generation of young skiers to push what they ever thought was possible on snow.
Two guys from Detroit take on Aspen - the mountain and the posh resort culture - in this 1993 movie. Half drama, half skiing, with plenty of drug-fueled mayhem and partial nudity, it's as memorable for the snow scenes as much as the portrayal of the ski bum trying to make it in the world of the rich and famous. As they say in the movie, "Skiing is the easy part."
Hot Dog: The Movie
The '80s saw no shortage of cheesy ski comedies, but this one set the bar. A promising young skier arrives at Squaw Valley, falls in with the wrong crowd, angers the wrong people and falls for the wrong girl ... well you get the picture. Other movies tried to repeat the formula (see "Better Off Dead" or "Ski School") but nobody matched it. With plenty of raunchiness to go around, this isn't a movie for the kids.
This 1969 film stars Robert Redford as an aspiring Olympic skier and Gene Hackman as his coach. Serious and thought-provoking, it's more character study and less ski porn, with critic Roger Ebert calling it "the best movie ever made about sportswithout really being about sports at all." No list of ski movies is complete without it.
Colorado College graduate Nick Waggoner of Sweetgrass Productions has fuzed cinematic art with the ski film format, making visually stunning ski movies that often seem to be about much more than skiing. This 2013 film is his best, about a man in search of endless winter. There's also a naked skiing scenethat will make you appreciate outer clothing layers.
Warren Miller's narration was always one of the thing that made his movies great. This 2003 film was his last (subsequent movies used soundbites from old movies until ditching the great director's narration completely.) Sure, the terrain got gnarlier, the skis fatter and the HD sharper as the company he sold his name to continued to make films, but there will always be something missing without Miller.
Mr. Bond has always been an excellent skier. You have to be when people are trying to kill you on the slopes. Here are some of the best Bond ski scenes.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service: One-and-done Bond George Lazenby set the bar high in the franchise's first ski scene, with jumps and an avalanche.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Roger Moore escapes a mountain chalet on skis and parachutes off a cliff. And who hasn't wished for a ski pole with a dart gun in it?
For Your Eyes Only: Bond doing an Olympic ski jump and a bobsled run? Oh yes, believe it.