The Warren Miller Entertainment crew knows they have some very large ski boots to fill with this year’s ski flick. WME director Chris Patterson, cinematographer Tom Day, and long-time editor Kim Schneider, along with all the other fantastic WME stagehands, knew before the first frame was even shot that they wanted to make WME’s 69 film, the first after Warren Miller’s passing, a tribute to the legendary man who started the snow sports community’s favorite tradition.
How do you justly honor such a legend? By doing your darnedest to continue his legacy of sharing with the world the amazing people, places and mountains that make skiing so rad.
And WME’s 69 film Face of Winter does exactly that. It’s an epic in the truest sense of the word, sweeping across both time and place to pay tribute to Warren’s earlier films and the locations he skied, plus showcase how today's skiing continues to draw people from far and wide to form a unique community of likeminded spirits. And of course, it features all the awesomeness that WME films have become known for: jaw-dropping scenery, adrenaline-pumping ski action, and lots of that white fluffy stuff.
Face of Winter opens with a look at a new, off-the grid location with plenty of pow: RED Mountain, one of B.C.’s best-kept secrets. Athletes Kaylin Richardson and Dennis Risvoll get a tour of this tucked-away playground from local wunderkind, 15-year old Simon Hillis.
A Helly Hansen-sponsored athlete since the age of 4 (yes, you read that correctly), Hillis is a scene-stealer. This segment also showcases the men and women behind the scenes of Red Mountain’s operations: the ski patrollers. For those who ski the resort and get angry when ropes aren’t dropped first thing on a powder day, you’ll come to understand and appreciate these men and women keeping us safe in-bounds.
Other new spots for Face of Winter include Portillo, Chile, and the Snow Farm in Cardrona, New Zealand. In Portillo, the WME crew trains the lens on Warren’s favorite and original subjects: professional ski instructors. Francesca Cain-Pavillard and Brennan Metzler, both PSIA Level 3-certified instructors, show us that the ski bum life has a glamorous side, especially when it comes to their summer gigs.
At the Snow Farm in New Zealand, we get both a new location and some new screen stars: the men and women of the U.S. Cross Country team, including 2018 Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins. These hardcore athletes show us what their “off-season” training looks like, and prove that you don’t have to launch yourself off cliffs and do flips to be a badass skier.
The movie also brings us back to familiar places with familiar faces. Dash Longe and newbie Jim Ryan return to Points North Heli-Adventures, an Alaskan heli-operation that’s been featured in Warren Miller films 17 times, yet you’ve probably never seen the same the same ski line twice—that’s just how big the Chugach Range is.
Face of Winter also takes us back to Iceland, this time to the northern Troll Peninsula where Amie Engerbretson, Anna Segal, and narrator Jonny Moseley explore the rugged Icelandic mountains where the snow feels like butter and the skiing comes with a side of ocean views.
A film about the faces of winter would not be complete without featuring some of the most famous mountain faces in the world—like the Mont Blanc massif in Chamonix, the epic lift-served extremes of Engelberg in Switzerland, and North America’s crown jewel, Denali. And while all the ski action in all segments is guaranteed to provide the kind of stoke you’ve grown accustomed to in WME films, the Denali segment stands out as a highlight.
In remote Denali National Park, Jess McMillan and Forrest Jillson retrace the footsteps of pioneer mountaineers who ventured out into this beautiful yet unyielding landscape when the area was still unexplored and very much uncharted territory.
Besides showcasing spectacular scenery and great skiing, this segment is perhaps the purest ode to Warren’s original work. It focuses on telling a story about the mountains and the skiers who are so drawn to their magic, they’ll invent ways to access them, slide around on them, and just be surrounded by them.
A lucky few may get to experience the pristine, wild beauty of Denali, or the bottomless powder at Wiegele’s World in Blue River, B.C., in real life—but for the rest of us, Warren Miller’s Face of Winter is the second-best way to experience these epic adventures.
The world premiere of Face of Winter is on Oct. 12 in Portland, Oregon, and will then hit the road and host shows across the nation through December. Find a tour stop near you and purchase tickets at warrenmiller.com/events.