Ski film icon Warren Miller’s ‘Line of Descent’ was 68 years in the making
Local skiers enjoyed the experience
“Line of Descent” continues the winter sports film tradition Warren Miller Entertainment started 68 years ago.
Panoramic vistas shots in Colorado, Montana, California and Wyoming are juxtaposed with international settings such as Norway, New Zealand and British Columbia.
The film is showing this weekend at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, and will continue Oct. 17-19, at the SCERA Grand Theatre in Orem, before making its Park City premiere Oct. 20 and 21 at the Eccles Center for the Arts. The final Northern Utah screenings will be Oct. 24-26 at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden.
Although King of the Wasatch champion Tyler Peterson had been asked before to appear in a Warren Miller film, “Line of Descent” is the Sandy resident’s actual debut.
“This is actually the second time I’ve been invited to be part of a Warren Miller film,” said Peterson, who works at the Snow Flower Condos at Park City Mountain. “The first time was three or four years ago. I was supposed to go to Romania, but the trip was canceled two days before we were supposed to fly out. So this was redemption for sure.”
Peterson’s segment was shot over a 10-day period in late February and early March at Silverton, Colorado.
“My favorite part was heli-skiing,” he said. “We had two great days in the helicopter and I had never done that before, so just skiing out of a helicopter just by itself was cool.”
It also helped that Peterson is interested in aviation.
“I’m the guy who loves planes and helicopters, so riding in the heli was so much fun,” he said.
Peterson’s only regret was the heli-skiing started and ended too quickly.
“Everything happened so fast because we were up against the clock to get the best shots we could,” he said. “As we flew up to the top of the mountain, we studied the lines we wanted to ski. I took photos with my cell phone and studied where I was going to go, because I had to figure out where my entrances and exits were going to be.”
Peterson’s work with still photo shoots helped him with his filming.
“I work with some of the top photographers in Utah, so I’m used to setting up for a shot and hitting the right spot,” he said. “It’s a little different when you switch over to film with the guys in Warren Miller, it takes three or four times longer to set up.
“That means you really don’t want to screw up the shot, because if you do, that takes up a half-hour to an hour of your day. So I was expecting a little intensity, and that’s how it felt.”
Peterson skied with Freeride World Tour winner George Rodney, who hails from Salt Lake City.
“We worked together excellently,” Peterson said. “He’s younger than me, but he’s such a great positive kid and great skier.”
With one Warren Miller film under his belt, Peterson hopes another opportunity will come his way.
“If I get invited again, I will use this experience to my advantage, because the first ski films I ever saw were Warren Miller films,” he said. “I had some big expectations when I was asked to be in one, and I guess I’ll see just how excited I [was] when we see the final film.”
“Line of Descent” also features Warren Miller film veteran Kaylin Richardson, Olympic alpine skier and U.S. National Downhill champion.
Richardson, who works with Deer Valley’s Ski with a Champion program, said appearing in a Warren Miller film never gets old.
“Warren Miller is such a major platform and a cool way to share my love with this snow-loving community,” said Richardson, who has been in Warren Miller films to date. “It gives me a fun conversation starter with anyone, and it’s fun to be part of that legacy.”
Richardson is seen in two segments with fellow skier Marcus Caston. The first was shot in Fernie, British Columbia, and the other in the Lyngen Alps in Norway.
“I was able to tag along with some ski patrollers during a ski patroller swap in Canada,” Richardson said.
She and Caston spent eight days in British Columbia before heading to Norway for nearly two weeks.
“I was so excited to head to Norway,” she said. “I have been there two other times for other Warren Miller films. It’s part of my heritage, and although I have very distant relatives who live there. It’s one of the few places I can go where people think I’m a native.”
Richardson was extra psyched to ski the Lyngen Alps.
“I had heard about them for the past decade,” she said. “They are located in the big back-country area over there, and many people from the lower areas will travel above the
Arctic Circle to ski there in the spring and late winter.”
Richardson said the skiing didn’t disappoint.
“We shot from the end of March until the beginning of April, and that’s full-on winter over there,” she said. “Our guides said it was the best powder they have had in their lives.”
Filming took a little longer because of the weather.
“We didn’t see the mountain peaks the first eight days because we had squall after squall,” Richardson said. “We would have 45 minutes of tons of snow and then it would clear up for a bit and then it would snow again, but once it cleared all the way, it was staggering. We could see what those mountains were and it was a cool reveal.”
The shoot also featured many technical obstacles, one being avalanche danger.
“We had an amazing guide, Oscar Oppenheim, who we booked through Lyngen Adventures,” Richardson said. “Since we always err on the side of caution, he would tell us whether or not we had to stay low because of avalanches.”
An avalanche threatened them during one point of the shoot.
“We were going across a pretty low slope, we heard a loud crack and felt the snow restabilize underneath us,” Richardson said. “That was pretty spooky, even though we were in a pretty safe spot because the angle was so low. But that kind of activity was really a wow.”
Another shot took three times as long as planned.
“Our photographer, Jay Dash, who lives in Salt Lake, told me he had an idea for a photo over a ridge,” Richardson said. “I hiked up higher and as I was going around, I had to actually take my skis off and rock climb across a 15-feet drop.”
It took Richardson four hours to get to the point.
“When I do things like that, I always look at the worst case scenario,” she said. “I figured if I lost my footing, I would push off and land in some powder, which wouldn’t have been too bad.”
Richardson is happy to continue her relationship with Warren Miller Entertainment.
“I remember growing up and seeing all of these amazing skiers, and it’s humbling to be one now,” she said. “Since I’ve been doing this so long, I see kids who first saw a film five years ago who are now in the throes of adolescence, who are skiing. And that’s fun for me.
“Of course there are lines that I want to ski and I want to show the world what I’m capable as a skier,” Richardson said. “However, since I’ve been doing this so much, I don’t have much to prove.”
Warren Miller Entertainment’s 68th film “Line of Descent” will screen at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, and at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21. Both screenings will be at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Ticket are $23 and can be purchased by visiting this website.
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