Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living ‘like there’s no tomorrow’

Express Staff Writer

Lynsey Dyer captured this image of a young Kashmiri child while shooting a ski adventure film in India recently.


Express Staff Writer

or the uninitiated like me, the prospect of a Warren Miller film about skiing seemed like a waste of time, a rehash of daring I never had, skills I only aped, lingo I never nailed down and crashes that included a spread eagle in the top of a tree.

I was foolishly kind of proud of having lived in two ski resorts, Crested Butte and here, and never even having seen a trailer for a Miller film. I had no idea what I had been missing. These films are about more than just skiing, these films are about living.

In Miller's latest, "Like There's No Tomorrow," the message is larger than if you love to ski, you'll love this film. It's about avenues to opportunities, about finding a way to distinguish yourself in whatever it is you do and using that to jettison you through life.

It's about not saying yes to a life behind a desk just because that's what your degree earned you. It's about finding something you love and living it every day of your life.

This is, simply put, an inspirational film as well as an educational travelogue, with journeys to the Himalayas and Utah, Chile, Norway, New Hampshire, Canada and New Zealand.

For those landlocked to the valley until better financial days are ahead, here's a way to plan for your escape. And for the population of great and greater skiers like those we've raised up and sent on to demonstrate these feats, like Hailey's own Lynsey Dyer, it's a chance to dream big.

Dyer, a renowned American freeskier who had dominated the big-mountain competition circuit for years, spent six days in India with Lel Tone, an experienced Alaska heli-ski guide and Squaw Valley ski patroller.

This was the maiden year for heli-skiing in the Himalayas. The part owner of the

operation was a prince of some sort, Dyer said.

"I would call him the ultimate Kashmirian playboy," Dyer said. "He's one of the guides and skis partially out of control, partially awesome and is super fun to hang out with. Why wouldn't you create your own heli op if you could?"

And while Dyer admits opening her eyes every morning in the strange land was in fact strange, trust in her female guide, Tone, and an unspoken camaraderie with other skiers there overtook her fear.

"You can come to someplace so foreign and still feel completely at home," Dyer said. "Other people may not speak your language, but you can look them in the eye and know that they know how the mountains work, and so do you, and so you have that bond."

Asked to describe the experience, she gives this analogy, "I would call it Alaska, I suppose, mixed with the tree skiing of Japan. Really, the best of both worlds, whether it's sunny or cloudy."

Both Dyer and Tone, and others later in the film, repeat the mantra of how lucky they feel that two little boards on their feet have opened so many worlds to them that they might otherwise not have seen.

The blondes stood out in Kashmir, where they trolled the streets in their ski gear, traded tips with locals in the lift lines and partook in some of the spiritual aspects of the country.

Dyer said she and Tone had ideal snow conditions, safe snowpacks and a day of sunshine to "bag some first descents." The climate was somewhat mellow with a bit of humidity.

"It's hard to compare it to any climate in the states, but I might say it's closer to maritime weather and snow pack," she said.

Daunting at first was the military presence. Even at the base of a ski resort, there were soldiers patrolling with automatic weapons.

"It's still a disputed war zone and border—there are bullet holes in most all of the buildings," she said.

But Dyer said she was most surprised by "how friendly the Kashmirians are, even the military."

The skiing photographer and graphic artist was always pulling out her camera, something that can be offensive to Muslim culture, "so when a military vehicle would pass by, I would hide it."

"This one time in particular, a military vehicle carrying mean-looking armed soldiers drove by and stopped just ahead of us. I assumed we were in trouble for something, maybe my having a camera, and I was a bit frightened. But as they rolled out of the vehicle it became clear that they stopped just to have a picture taken with us! 'One photo, one photo' they would say over and over until about 18 dudes had had their picture snapped with the two blondies. It became the joke to claim 'we're really big in Kashmir.'"

Next up for Dyer?

"I'd love to create a film that captures the essence of what it means to be a female in her power," she said. "I don't think anyone's done it yet and I want to show little girls what authentic power really is."

Maybe that will be in next year's reel.

Until then, the 62nd annual U.S. tour of a Warren Miller film is underway and arrives here Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House.

Tickets are on sale at Sturtevants in Ketchum and Hailey, the Opera House box office at 622-2261 and General admission is $18. Group rates are available by calling 800-523-7117.

Everyone who attends the film gets a voucher for a free lift ticket at Soldier Mountain and a voucher for $25 off a purchase of $100 or more at Sturtevants.

I can't compare it to other of Miller's films, but I can say it is a slickly shot, culturally diverse, well-soundtracked, often funny documentary that I could see sitting through again. Even though I had no idea who these people were before, their dialogue was about a universal need to try something new, scare ourselves a little and live more like there is no tomorrow.

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