In 1999, Skiing named Greg Stump one of the 25 Most Influential People of our sport. That’s because Stump changed skiing, ski culture and ski film with his 1988 movie, Blizzard of Aahhh’s. Now he tells the backstory with Legend of Aahhh’s.
Before Blizzard, Glen Plake, Scot Schmidt and Mike Hattrup weren’t ski household names and “extreme skiing” wasn’t a mainstream concept. In fact, ski porn wasn’t even a concept. Warren Miller was making ski movies—skiing was set to an orchestral soundtrack. “Freestyle” skiing was limited to ski ballet.
The skiing Stump featured in Blizzard—set to rock and roll—as well as the personalities, the irreverence, the reckless fun of the ski lifestyle the movie portrayed, took the way people ski in a different direction and brought the ski subculture into the limelight.
Stump takes you behind the scenes in his semi-autobiographical Legend of Aahhh’s. The movie, which premiers this week and shows in over 30 locations in the next four months, combines interviews, reflections and vintage footage into a brief history of ski porn and its influence on big mountain skiing and ski culture.
Watching the movie is like being a fly on the wall as Stump, Plake, Hattrup, Schmidt, Warren Miller, Dick Barrymore and others sit around the living room to reminisce and play home movies. Miller and others have a conversation with Stump, even while Stump is behind the camera. It’s funny, it’s intimate, it’s fresh.
“So did these films inspire a generation of filmmakers and athletes to proceed with questionable judgment, or did these films inspire [them] to have the freedom to create stunning images and move boundaries in athletic excellence?” Stump asks in the movie.
Decide for yourself. I left the screening amazed and awed and humbled and stoked. I also left wondering how the star trio of Blizzard is still alive. Seriously, the lines Scot Schmidt skied on 220s, no helmet, guided by “vibrations from the earth” are nothing short of insane and unfathomable. Plake’s buffoonery (he dresses like a disco Uncle Sam for a Today Show interview), and the commercialization of the ski bum is almost as incredible as the skiing. And the footage isn’t all antique. Stump follows ski filmmaking to the present.
This Wednesday, September 19, Legend of Aahhh’s premiers in Boulder, and Stump will be on hand for the movie’s screening. If you’ve ever watched a ski movie, you won’t want to miss this one. dandeentertainment.com/legend-of-aahhhs
All photography by Rod Walker