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Last Chair- The Wizard of Aahhh’s

Greg Stump’s 1988 Blizzard of Aahhh’s, often called the greatest ski film ever, inspired a generation of kids to pursue a life on snow. His new film looks at the big picture.

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SKI > What was Blizzard’s greatest influence on ski filmmaking?

G.S. > It brought pop music into the fray. MTV was brand-new, so this was a big deal, as the youth movement instantly became the film’s audience. And I let the athletes actually talk. “Look! They’re real people!” They were as much a part of the storytelling as the ski action.

SKI >The film is credited with helping to launch the term “extreme” into mainstream culture. Uh, congrats?

G.S. > I knew there was something special about the movie. But when Glen [Plake] and Scot [Schmidt] appeared on the Today show to promote the film, that was “extreme”’s big breakthrough. Glen was flying his mohawk. I was in the control room, and this old director kept yelling, “You idiots! Zoom in on the guy with the ‘tommyhawk!’ Zoom in!”

SKI >You’ve inspired a generation of filmmakers, and now they’re pushing the action to what some consider recklessness. Are you comfortable with that legacy? 

G.S. > I do feel a responsibility. That’s why I quit making ski films. I knew that eventually somebody was going to die in front of my camera. You can’t stop people from doing what they want to do, but I didn’t want to be part of that. The funny thing is that what we considered extreme back then would be a line that you wouldn’t think twice about taking today. A Salomon marketing executive at the Blizzard premiere said, “You’ve gone too far. This will never work. What can they do next?”

SKI >So what is next? 

G.S. > Legend is my swan song on snow. I want to shoot a comedy.