It’s not too late to see No Turning Back on the big screen in Utah. You may not have rallied for the world premiere in Salt Lake City or the sold-out shows in Park City but there’s still Logan and Orem. Why should you pay $20 to see ski porn in a crowded theater? Because you get a free lift ticket to Snowbird and a free ticket to Powder Mountain (a $100+ value); because it’s one of the best Warren Miller films since Warren Miller left the building; because it means you’re ready for winter.
From the heart-stopping first descent in Cordova, Alaska, to the speed riding segment that brought out the biggest cheers of the night at Abravanel Hall, NTB finally evolves. Instead of epic powder run after powder run and a handful of jibbing montages that frankly put me to sleep, this 65th installment tells tales. I never thought of skiing Greece but I am tempted after watching Tyler Ceccanti and Josh Bibby scale the mythical Mount Olympus, surrounded by 2,500-year-old ruins. Plus, taking a horse looks way cooler than riding a snowmobile to get there.
There have always been European segments that included Chamonix, France, but never has WM crafted a journey that immerses you in the why it’s the Holy Grail for ski mountaineers. There’s more oral storytelling as well, with the soundtrack enhancing rather than distracting from the sequences. “Is that straight down?” my eight-year-old asked as Points North Heli-Adventures dropped Chris Anthony, Ingrid Backstrom and Jess McMillan onto a spine on the southeastern side of the Chugach Range. Sage has been to every WM film since she was born but this was the first time she cared and the first time I realized that WM isn’t for me anymore, it’s for her.
Her eyes were riveted on Sierra Quitiquit and Julian Carr as they danced through the mom and pop resorts of Montana. Sage turned to me. “Can we go to Montana?” she whispered. I smiled and nodded. She wants to go places.
The athletes aren’t just ripping up the slopes or trying to make stupid skibum jokes. They’re talking about what brought them to the areas in the first place and, aside from the random snowboarding montage snoozefest in the second half of the film (where we have no idea where they are and who they are), the audience is listening.
This particular Warren Miller is one for the generations. Let’s hope they keep up the better work.