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Fresh snow, new Warren Miller film

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

At a time when more and more ski films take cameras off-mountain and indoors to capture the lifestyle, a Warren Miller film still heads to the hills first. The latest Warren Miller release, the 58th anniversary film, "Playground," is no exception. It’s still about the cakey cornice and carving the perfect line, and in it, Utah serves as the apotheosis of the ultimate winter park where world-class freeskiers regularly sink into stashes of grizzly, deep-powder terrain.

"If you were to assemble a United States of Playground, you’d need a place to locate your capital; a place where the landscape itself looks like it was created by Dr. Seuss with a backhoe; a place where it’s possible to wake up in summer and drive to winter. In short, you need Utah," narrates Olympian Jonny Mosley over scenes of Moab and the Wasatch Mountains. In terms of introductions to the film’s various segments in British Columbia, Colorado, United Arab Emirates (Ski Dubai is accessible by escalator in a mega mall) and California the words describing Utah are likely the film’s most laudatory.

"Playground," sponsored in part by the Utah Office of Tourism who spent $350,000 on the film, makes quite a statement, but one that is readily seconded by its subjects on and off the camera.

"I grew up in the East and I’ve skied Alaska and British Columbia, Europe and South America, and Utah’s definitely got the best combination of light snow and sunny days and we get so much of it," say Jamey Parks says in an interview with the Park Record.

Parks says his best ski days are during survival conditions at Alta resort, when the dense snowfall makes it almost too dense to capture with a camera lens.

After skiing and racing in Vermont at Mount Snow and Sugarbush, and graduating from CU Boulder in 2000, Parks, 31, resides in Salt Lake City "for the snow." Since college, Parks has qualified for the X-Games with a sponsorship from Salomon and Scott. Recently, however, Parks has chosen to focus on documenting his abilities in film and photography. "Playground" is Parks’ third Warren Miller film. His first, "Higher Ground," was shot in 2005 primarily at The Canyons Resort, he says.

"It really comes down to the time issue getting to comps to making films is hard," he explains. "And shooting a ski film is fun, because you wait until you get the best conditions."

He enjoys the latitude "Playground" gave in terms of waiting for the best conditions. While other film companies often assign dates and locations, this film allowed for filming when and where the prime spot would be.

According to Parks, ski films like "Playground" are among the best possible ways to advertise a snowscape. Miller’s films are the films he grew up watching, he says, and are still the ones that reach hundreds of thousands of skiers. "I’ll ski a resort and someone will recognize me," he says.

Parks joins Park City freeskier Tanner Hall, and Utah-raised high school friends freeskier Rachael Burks, who serves as the film’s poster girl, and freeskier Julian Carr, who has been recorded dropping a cliff at more than 2,100 vertical feet.

"Remember kids: don’t try this at home," admonishes Mosley in "Playground." "Unless you live in Utah."

Also from Utah are freeskiers Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Jesse Hall and Jamie Pierre, who dropped 225 feet off a cliff drop in the Teton backcountry.

In the film these Utah skiers ride Southern Utah on mountain bikes and land on slopes with parachutes. These are the kids the film describes as the childhood friends who "didn’t play on the seesaws or swings or the slides" and instead "spent all their time jumping off the fort instead." Today, according to the film, "they all live in Utah."

Warren Miller’s Playground play dates

Warren Miller’s latest ski and snowboard film, "Playground," will screen at the following times and locations in Utah:

Wednesday, Oct. 24

XanGo Grand Theatre at SCERA Center in Orem, UT, at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 25

Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, UT, at 6 and 9 p.m.

Show: 6 and 9 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 26

George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, Salt Lake City, UT, at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 27

Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, UT at 6 and 9 p.m.

Nov. 8-Nov.9

Kent Concert Hall, Utah State University, Logan UT

Show: 8 p.m.

Dec. 1 April 1

Snowbird Conference Center, Snowbird, UT. Various times throughout the season.


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