Dear Mr Miller,
I could never address you as Warren because I still see you with my adolescent eyes. With the eyes of a budding dirtbag who never thought making a life as a skier was possible. You were a titan in the ski world, and while I never had the priviledge of meeting you, you have been with me since puberty.
My childhood heroes weren’t NFL players or Big League hitters. My heroes made no money and lived in ski area parking lots. They had names like Schmidt, Day, Andrews and Plake. My heroes earned their keep in front of your cameras. You brought those pioneering maniacs into my living room and into my life. In so doing you managed to ruin any dreams my parents had of their son having a respectable career. You created a dirtbag skier and I will never be able to thank you enough for it.
It was Beyond The Edge that put the nail in the coffin. It was the first ski film I remember where I glimpsed a future far away from the awkwardness and angst of being a teenager. It was the first time I felt that someone could relate to not wanting the ‘regular’ things in life. It was the first time I knew what I really wanted to do. From that moment on, all I could think about was how I could ski every day. Forever.
That stayed with me. All through my teens and into my twenties, you stayed with me. Every fall, I patiently waited for the next Warren Miller film to come out. I would attend the premieres, sometimes with friends, but just as often alone. It never mattered. Your film premieres brought people together. We would congregate in smaller theatres or university halls or convention centres to celebrate our common passion. You helped us fall in love with skiing and kept our stoke high, year after year.
For myself, you steered my life. I strayed a little now and again, making ridiculous attempts to go straight and get a ‘real’ job, but I always came back to my first love. I always came back to the same place: I want to ski, every day.
There was van living and bartending and working in a ski shop. But later, there was ski patrolling and writing and making a real life in the ski world. I’m sad that you are gone, Mr. Miller. You influenced my life and thousands of other ski lives to get outside and see what was there. You helped us go beyond our edge to look for something a little steeper and a little deeper. Wherever you are, may your days be filled with sunshine, fresh snow, good food and comfortable ski boots.
Be safe, ski hard.