First Warren Miller film since creator’s death is a ‘Face of Winter’
What: “Face of Winter” by Warren Miller Entertainment
When: 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
How much: $23
Amie Engerbretson is no stranger to appearing in Warren Miller ski films.
The Squaw Valley, California native cut some lines in Alaska in 2015 for “Chasing Shadows” and made her mark on the French Alps in last year’s “Line of Descent.”
This year, Engerbretson fulfilled her lifelong dream of skiing in Iceland for her segment in “Face of Winter,” Warren Miller Entertainment’s 69th film. The film will screen at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
Before then, the film will make its Utah debut from Oct. 17-20 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, before heading to Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden from Oct. 23-25, and the Clarke Grand Theatre in Orem on Oct. 24 and 25.
Iceland seemed nearly fictitious, Engerbretson said.”It’s a trendy destination now, and you never know if hype is reality, but my experience surpassed any expectation,” she said. “The best way to describe Iceland is it’s a fairy tale world.”
The skier felt welcome in the North Atlantic island nation of more than 300,000 from day one.
“Since Iceland is so small, I think it would be easy for the people to be isolationists, but that’s not the case,” Engerbretson said. “They are so welcoming. They have so much national pride and want to show you everything.”
She also enjoyed the fresh food.
“Everything we ate was either caught or raised within two miles of where we stayed,” Engerbretson said.
Engerbretson, along with fellow skiers Anna Segal and Jonny Moseley, also got to see how an Icelandic farm worked, because they lived on one during the two-week shoot in May.
“There’s a scene where we let out new cows into the pasture, and that was the first time they had ever been outside,” she said. “I never knew cows got excited and jumped around. I just thought they stood around and ate grass.”
Engerbretson also experienced the skiing of her life.
“It was spring skiing, and that was fun because in Iceland, during that time of the year and being so close to the Arctic Circle, we only had three to four hours of (marginal) darkness,” she said.
The sun would set atrise between 3 and 4 a.m. and set at 11:30 p.m., which allowed for long ski days and after-dinner runs.
“What was cool about those long days is you had perfect sunset moments that lasted two and a half hours instead of 10 minutes,” Engerbretson said. “So we would ski off into the sunset over and over and over again.”
The sunset runs took place in the Gold Coast area of northern Iceland.
“It’s cool because the runs end at the Arctic Ocean,” Engerbretson said. “So all you see is sunsets and the ocean.”
Engerbretson made her turns on “corn snow,” which means it had gone through a series of melt-and-freeze cycles, according to Engerbretson.
“It’s not powder, but really smooth,” she said. “There’s a quote in the movie that says, ‘corn skiing is like skiing through butter.’ It’s cool because you can go really fast and feel the edges of your skis.”
Unlike some past Warren Miller shoots, the Iceland segment didn’t run into many natural or technical challenges.
“Everything lined up,” Engerbretson said. “Our guide with Arctic Heli Skiing was great. He knew when the show would be good and where to land the helicopter.”
The guide also knew where the puffins and waterfalls were located.
“So we were able to have picnics in these cool places,” Engerbretson said. “We were able to get real close to the puffins, as you will see in the film.”
Cinematographer Chris Patterson, who has been with Warren Miller for more than 25 years, shot the footage.
“He had a cohesive vision, and I really felt like it was a grand adventure,” Engerbretson said. “I felt it was as awesome as it will look on the big screen.”
The skier enjoyed traveling to Iceland with Segel, her teammate on the K2 Skis team, and Moseley, who she has known since growing up in Squaw Valley.
“K2 has a big women’s team, so (Segel and I) had never met,” Engerbretson said. “We did know a lot about each other, because we have a bunch of mutual friends. So this was a cool experience to hang out and get to know each other.”
Moseley knew Engerbretson’s father, Jeff, who was also a professional skier.
“I remember watching Jonny training bumps before the Olympics, and I remember him becoming a celebrity after he went to the Olympics,” she said. “I think it was great for him to see my progression as an athlete, because I knew him when I was a five year old girl.”
Engerbretson enjoyed her experience shooting “Face of Winter,” but she also looks at the film with reverence. It is the first Warren Miller Entertainment film to be released since its creator, Warren Miller, died at the age of 93 in January.”Being a skier in a Warren Miller film was a lifelong goal of mine since I was a little girl,” she said. “My dad … ended up being a filmmaker for Warren Miller, and we would go see the movies every fall. So getting that first call from Warren Miller was a benchmark for me, and it doesn’t get any less special.”
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