If the latest Warren Miller ski film is coming to town, can winter be far behind?
The annual installment of the Warren Miller winter sports franchise — this year, a movie called “Timeless” — will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the SCERA’s Clarke Grand Theatre in Orem.
“Timeless” also will be screened this Thursday and Friday at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City, and Saturday at the Eccles Center in Park City.
Nancy Richter, who handles publicity for the Warren Miller films, said 2019 marks the 70th year for ski films produced by the company. She thinks the “Timeless” theme resonates with ski fans.
“When you watch a Warren Miller film, from any age, it really is timeless,” Richter said. “And when you’re skiing in powder, you’re sort of suspended in time.”
The film will show in more than 100 markets this year, with five crews out playing it in venues across the country.
“It’s like ‘Cats’ touring,” Richter joked.
One of the segments in this year’s film will feature A.J. Oliver, a longtime Salt Lake City resident who is now a ski instructor in Big Sky, Montana. He and fellow Montana ski instructor Brenna Kelleher join ski legend Glen Plake for a week at Mustang Powder Cat Skiing, in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia.
“Kind of the whole story behind our segment is, what does it look like when ski teachers — people who are passionate about skiing and teaching skiing — take some time off and make some turns for themselves,” the 31-year-old Oliver said in a recent telephone interview. “It’s about three people like that going out and sharing a week together. That’s the storyline.”
Oliver says he’s skied Alberta in the past, but not the Monashees — or another beautiful range, the Selkirk Mountains.
“It was a bucket list of mine to check one of those off,” he said. “That’s the Rocky Mountains, man. They are impressive.”
Originally from south Florida, Oliver moved with his family to Salt Lake City when he was 6 years old. He attended the Rowmark Ski Academy (a division of Rowland Hall) in Salt Lake City, and after graduation headed off to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, where he ski raced for four years and later was an assistant coach.
But while Oliver loved Montana, he knew he’d eventually leave Billings.
“Billings is great, but I explain to people that Billings is a little flat,” he said. “You can get to the mountains, but they’re not right there. And when you grow up in the shadow of the Wasatch, eventually you start to miss big mountains.”
Enter Big Sky, Montana, where Oliver moved after college. During the winters, he’s a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort. In the summer, he acts as a sort of “jack of all trades.” Using manual labor jobs to fill the gaps, Oliver spends much of the summers taking people into Yellowstone National Park on horseback.
“We’ll go out from three to 10 days,” he said.
And in the fall, Oliver takes people elk hunting in the nearby Madison Valley.
“I guess I’m living the dream, for lack of a better term,” Oliver said. “I would say that I feel lucky and fortunate to do what I do, and to get paid to be outside and take people skiing in the winter and out in the backcountry in the summer is pretty great.”
Oliver says he plans to hit some of the film’s showings in Utah. He may also try to attend a few of the screenings in Colorado, although he has no plans for attending any of the national showings in places like Chicago and New York.
“In my personal case, I’ll do the hometown tour — all the ones on opening weekend in Salt Lake,” he said. “With Warren Miller, it’s all about the crowd and the fans, so we try to make ourselves available to the people at the shows. We’ll definitely be there and interacting.”
Oliver says he was “honored” to be invited to take part in a Warren Miller ski film.
“It was really inspiring to share a week with two people who care so much about the health of the industry and the sport,” he said. “It was cool to go out with them, and see that the people you idolize are true skiers. They eat and live and breathe it.”
And although Oliver had heard that filming can be a lot of work, he was surprised at “how much fun it was — it didn’t feel like work at all.”
The hope, according to Oliver, is that through their segment on the “Timeless” movie he and the other skiers were able to convey the emotion and energy of the week.
“You want to go and get cool shots and do interesting things on skis, but the goal is to go on a ski trip, have fun, and have that energy come through on the big screen,” he said. “That’s what people in the audience want — the same feelings they get up on the hill. A blower powder day can be a life-changing experience.”