I have to admit, I haven’t been a Warren Miller fan for a long time. After all, it hasn’t been the same since Warren stopped making his own movies. For me, the newer ones tend to run together — a lot of people jumping off cliffs; oh look, more back flips; and the obligatory urban stuff, sliding down stair rails and jumping over small buildings and parked cars. Granted, some segments are much better than others. But on the whole, I’ve kind of lost interest.
Sacrilege, I know.
Still, the Warren Miller movies are a tradition. An indicator that ski season is coming! So when Warren Miller Entertainment asked if I’d like a review copy of their new movie, No Turning Back, I said sure, why not.
I won’t keep you in suspense. Almost to my surprise, I liked it.
The construct is the same as it’s been in the past. Like other WME movies, it’s divided into segments, each one featuring different skiers in different locales. The first segment (which I think is the best) showcases Ingrid Backstrom, Jess McMillam, and Chris Anthony skiing in the Chugach of Alaska. The ability of Jess and Ingrid to tackle the steep stuff is exhilarating to watch, and the passion and excitement they bring to big mountain skiing is an absolute joy. WME has featured women skiers before, but I love that this time they’re in the lead spot. Maybe it’s a reaction to the new all-female Pretty Faces movie? Who knows. But as a female skier, and one who gets pretty tired of having the focus on guys, guys, and more guys, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the women rip it up.
The second segment spoke to me, too. As an older skier, I loved seeing a group with an average age of 46 absolutely killing it in Chamonix. Seth Morrision, Mike Hattrup, Tim Petrick, and Heather Paul tackle some awesome terrain off the Aiguille du Midi, accessing lines that can only be reached by rappelling down ropes and descending ladders. Some of the quotes I wrote down as I watched this portion: “With the revolution of ski gear, [skiing is] the fountain of youth for anyone who’s older,” “When skiers are saying 50 is the new 40, what they’re really saying is thank you fat skis,” and “If you’re not smiling, you better change sports.” Anyone who disses older skiers or thinks that they, themselves, are too old to ski, watch these guys. You’ll change your opinion pretty quick.
And I also enjoyed segment #3, which focused on the laid back, off-the-beaten path ski towns and areas of Montana. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to Montana twice in the past two years and plan to go again this winter. The scenery is gorgeous, the skiing by Julian Carr and Sierra Quitiquit is lovely, and the whole vibe of the piece really spoke to me, since I love places that are a bit outside the mainstream.
There are five other segments, too: Snowboarding in Niseko, Japan, which features boarding in an insane amount of snow in the country’s north island; skiing Mount Olympus in Greece (loved the history and the ruins); searching for the site of the world’s oldest ski in Lofoten, Norway (the beauty of the mountains and sea is amazing), racing in Vail and Beaver Creek (enjoyed seeing the racing legends); and speed-riding, which involves skis and parachutes in Switzerland (in a word, heart-stopping).
On the whole, I found this movie more accessible than some of the ones I’ve viewed in the past. Yes, it still has the obligatory exotic locales. Which really, I enjoy. But I think it seemed more focused on actual skiing rather than jumping off cliffs and doing crazy stunts. And not only did the first segment feature women, but women were also featured prominently in two of the other segments, as well. For me, this is a big improvement.
Did it do its job and get me stoked for the season? Yes. Then again, I’m always stoked. My rating: Two ski poles up.