Warren Miller 1924-2018

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One of my fondest memories growing up were going on ski bus trips with my youth group and watching Warren Miller movies on the ride up. The movies were funny and inspiring and always got me pumped up for a day of shredding on the slopes. I started attending Warren Miller movie premieres not too long after that. Being around other skiers and snowboarders always gets my adrenaline going. In fact, I won a set of Warren Miller beanies in a drawing at the most recent premiere I went to. Warren Miller Entertainment ski films have changed my life. I love his story on how he got started in the entertainment business when he made his first movie Deep and Light in 1950 with a 8mm movie camera he purchased. Since then there has been an annual Warren Miller movie shown every year just before ski season. Warren Miller has been involved with all of them until 2004 when he retired. Even though the newer movies are no longer produced by him, they continue to have his name on them. I was saddened to hear about his recent passing but will forever be inspired by his career. I just bought his book Freedom Found: My Life Story not too long ago and can’t wait to dive into it. Warren Miller lived a full life and changed the culture of skiing and snowboarding forever. Thank you for your films and the memories and may your legacy live on.

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One of the many ski trips where we watched Warren Miller films on the bus ride up

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Warren Miller vehicle at the recent film premiere of Line of Descent in Scottsdale

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Vans

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Vans have been a big part of my life for years. I still remember having the old 80’s urban street skate hat with the split back tail on the back. Then Tony Hawk made skateboarding a big thing in the late 80’s with his crazy stunts. We would hang around Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale and buy boards and the latest Vans shoes. Now here I am today still riding a longboard, watching the X-Games and wearing my Vans. It helps that I raised two boys that have kept me feeling young. Today marks 50 years since the first Vans store opened up in Cali. In addition to their clothing line, they have sponsored many extreme sports like BMX, skateboarding and motocross. They also sponsor the Warped Tour that features many of the top music artists today. I’ll always be a big fan and look forward to many more years of buying a new pair of Vans.

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Flagstaff

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Flagstaff is this small town in northern Arizona that is home to Northern Arizona University. The infamous Route 66 also passes through the city. I love the mom n pop stores and restaurants in Flagstaff. I always regretted not attending NAU so I could have experienced living in a small town. But what Flagstaff is most popular for is Snowbowl ski resort. Students spend their weekends there and it’s only a few hours from the valley. I skied for the first time here as a kid and have brought my boys up here many times. We came up here for a fun few days after Christmas. We skied, boarded and did some sledding in some pretty cold and snowy weather.

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Ski Culture

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Tonight I took my kids to Ski Pro’s Avalanche Sale at Phoenix Civic Center to pick up some gear. It’s this big sale they have every year where you can pick up ski/snowboard gear for dirt cheap. I love ski culture! I started when I was in jr. high and I’m glad I got my kids started at a young age too. They love it and I can’t wait to get a few trips in with them this year.

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Our first snowboarding trip at Sunrise in ’07

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My son Ty – 6 years old on his first snowboarding adverture

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Ty hittin’ the powder

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Snowbowl ’08

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Jake tearing it up

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Me on my board

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Snowy day in Flagstaff – I love ski towns

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Took a day off to do some sledding – we love the snow!

I started skiing when I was around 12 years old. I was blessed to have a youth pastor that took us on trips to Flagstaff. My mom was always big on making sure I got to experience fun stuff like this at a young age. She would always encouraged me to go on these trips. Once I got in high school, my Pastor Linn Winters would rent these Greyhound buses to take us to Colorado or Utah for a 3 day ski adventure. My very first out-of-state trip was to Telluride, Colorado. They would show Warren Miller ski flicks to get us pumped up for some fresh powder. Even though I was a Freshman, I was happy to make friends with some of the older guys in the group (even though I still went through a few initiations). My buddy Gary would join me on the trips and he and I would become die-hard ski partners for years all the way up to adulthood. About five years ago, I switched over to snowboarding and love that I can do both.

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Bus trip to Utah – 1989

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The crew – Utah ’89. Diggin’ the 80’s hair and outfits

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Skiing with my friends – I was 15 years old in this picture

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Typical skier’s room before a big day – Durango, CO in ’90. I’m eating the bowl of cereal on the right

As I got better at skiing, I started to get more flamboyant. I knew I was good and I liked to show off. I started spiking my hair, wearing bright colors and even tied red ribbon to my skis to make it look like flames were coming out. I would also started to get more risky. I would do more tricks and jumps and would ski in just t-shirts. I went though skis like crazy and even once got kicked out for jumping off a large hill. I dumped a lot of money into the sport and started to fly out-of-state a lot to places like Lake Tahoe to ski with the big boys. After I had kids, my ski life died off for a while. My ex and I did some skiing together, but raising kids took up most of our time. Now I am excited to be at a new phase of life and to experience ski/snowboard life with my boys. Even though I’m not as risky as I used to be, I have really learned to appreciate the sport. I’m thankful for the opportunities all these years to have been a part of this culture of skiing.

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My flamboyant days – 1991 at Sunrise ski resort

Warren Miller is a filmmaker who has been making ski movies since 1950. He is very well-known to us in ski culture and I’ve seen many of his movies on my bus trips. Every year a new flick comes out and Warren Miller Entertainment does a movie tour just before ski season starts. They show it a ASU Gammage every December after the Avalanche sale. I went to quite a few shows in my college days and just recently started the tradition with my kids. We are going to see the newest film Flow State later this month. I’m excited to check it out and get pumped for ski season this year.

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Last year’s snowboard trip – I broke a rib on this trip

Ice Skating

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You can tell it’s the holidays in downtown Phoenix by all the decorations that are going up. I grabbed some coffee at 8th Day and then headed down to the art walk for First Friday. I really enjoyed seeing all the Christmas lights and the people all dressed up warm for the cold weather. One of my favorite things to watch this time of year is the ice skating rink at Cityscape. Situated next to their large Christmas tree, the ice skating rink offers some fun people watching moments. I had a blast strapping on the skates and hitting the ice.

Ice skating at Cityscape in Downtown Phoenix

Already a huge hockey fan, my fascination with outdoor ice skating started in Atlanta in 2007. I was at an event with my friend Shauna and we made a promise to each other to ice  skate at the outdoor rink in Centennial Park before we left. But because of our tight schedule, it never happened. Then I had another chance to do it there with my girlfriend Ashleigh and once again it never happened. I was determined to skate on an outdoor ice skating rink in a cold weather city. I took my kids once at the Del in San Diego, but ice skating on the beach in San Diego just wasn’t the same. So Ashleigh finally took me skating at the Rockefeller center in New York. It was kind of a childhood dream come true after years of watching scenes of people skating there on TV. It was short-lived because I had a foot injury, but worth it. I’m looking forward to finally skating in Centennial Park next month when I visit Atlanta.

Ice Skating at the Del in San Diego with my kids in ’07

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Football Weekend

IMG_1272My oldest son goes to Hamilton high school in Chandler, AZ. They have one of the best football programs in the nation. They have won the Arizona Division 5A State Championship seven times in the past ten years. Last year they got blown out in the championship game. This year it was revenge time. They lost to Mountain Pointe high school to start the season off (ironically my son went to Mountain Pointe his Freshman year). After going 0-2, Hamilton won the rest of their games and found themselves in the championship game once again against the team that they lost to in the beginning of the season – Mountain Pointe. The game was played at University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) and Hamilton repeated their championship success by winning 31-16.

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_MG_8944It ended up being a fun football weekend overall for me. The day after the Hamilton won their title, my alma mater ASU played UA in the Territorial Cup rivalry game in Tucson. It was the first meeting between new coaches Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez. ASU won “The Duel in the Desert” 41-34 in a fun turnaround year for them.

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Touchdown!

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Class Acts

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Territorial Cup

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Go Devils!

Sun Devil Traditions

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ASU has many traditions. The pitch fork sign, shaking your keys during kick-offs, the Lantern Walk and wearing gold at games are some of them. This year coach Graham has brought back some old traditions (like practice at Camp Tontozona) and some new ones. The Devils are much improved this year and on the right track to being a better football team. Tonight was the last home game and I’ve taken someone different to each game this year. Tonight I brought my long-time friend Shauna. She’s an ASU grad as well and we had fun picking on each other during the game. But we did observe this new tradition at the game people were doing in our section – parents holding up their kids as they do push-ups after every Sun Devil score. It was fun to watch. They did a lot of push-ups as ASU won 46-7 over Washington State.