Warren Miller’s New Ski Movie Stars 12-Year-Old Vail Keenan’s Ava “Happy Knees”


Snow is finally piling up in the mountains, Denver has seen its first snow flurries and two ski areas, Arapahoe Basin and Keystone, have opened, with a third, Winter Park, coming online Monday.

But for many avid skiers and snowboarders, the season really begins when the annual Warren Miller movie comes out. This year’s edition, “Daymaker,” ends like its predecessors for generations with a narrator’s joyful proclamation, “Winter begins now.”

“Daymaker,” the 73rd installment in the series that invented the ski movie genre, opens at PACE Center in Parker on Thursday and will play in 20 other Colorado locations through December 4. As usual, the two main venues are the Boulder Theater, November 10-12, and the Paramount Theater in Denver, November 17-19.

Salt Lake City’s Marcus Caston shoots powder at Utah’s Snowbasin Resort in “Daymaker.” The film tour will begin its run in Colorado next week. (Cam McLeod, provided by Warren Miller Entertainment)

The film takes viewers to the backcountry of Alaska and British Columbia, Snowbasin Resort in Utah, and Sun Valley in Idaho. There’s a delightful segment on turf skiing – yes, summer “skiing” on turf with specially designed skis – shot in Wengen, Switzerland, as well as a delightful tour of the modest ski areas in northern Greece.

Viewers will also revel in the usual array of heartbreaking powder lines on ridiculously steep slopes in the Alaska Range, bouncy runs on puffy pillow lines, face plants, flips and aerial maneuvers in spin. This year’s movie’s deepest powder takes three young skiers to the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia for some ridiculously over the top snow skiing with Mustang Powder.

The Colorado segment in “Daymaker” takes viewers to Snowmass for a gathering of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, which is made up of dozens of predominantly black ski clubs and dates back to 1973. The NBS also provides support for young black skiers in an effort to help them join the US Ski and Snowboard Team.

In a segment featuring the deepest powder in Warren Miller's 73rd Annual Ski Movie, Daymaker, Madison Rose Ostergren of Jackson Hole, Wyo., is engulfed in feather-light snow while skiing with Mustang Powder snowcat skiing in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia.  The film's tour will begin its run in Colorado next week, with stops in Boulder from November 10-12 and Paramount in Denver from November 17-19.  (Cam McLeod, provided by Warren Miller Entertainment)
In a segment featuring the deepest powder in Warren Miller’s 73rd Annual Ski Movie, Daymaker, Madison Rose Ostergren of Jackson Hole, Wyo., is engulfed in feather-light snow while skiing with Mustang Powder snowcat skiing in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. The film’s tour will begin its run in Colorado next week, with stops in Boulder from November 10-12 and Paramount in Denver from November 17-19. (Cam McLeod, provided by Warren Miller Entertainment)

“There are a lot of great skiers and snowboarders vying for the title of the first black Olympic champion in skiing,” narrator Jonny Moseley, the 1998 Olympic moguls champion, said in the segment. “But if the medal went to best nickname, 11-year-old Ava ‘Happy Knees’ Keenan of Vail would win hands down.”

Keenan, who has turned 12 since filming her segment, is shown pounding bumps with legs pumping rapid fire like finally tuned pistons. She returns a compliment to Moseley, who has narrated Miller’s films since 2008. Moseley won his gold medal with a revolutionary new trick, the 360 ​​mute grab.

“My happy knees just help people know who I am as a mogul skier, a happy skier,” Keenan says in the film. “I want to thank Jonny Moseley for the silent 360 input because if it wasn’t for him no one would be doing it right now. So thank you.” In the narration, Moseley responds, “You’re welcome, Ava.”

In a phone interview this week, Keenan said it was “amazing” to appear in a Warren Miller movie at such a young age.

“It’s not the people seeing me in the movie that turn me on,” said Keenan, a Denver native who moved to Vail when she was 10. “It’s that they’ll think about all the hard work that got me into the movie; it excites me.”

Teton Gravity Research ski film veteran Ian McIntosh stars in this year's film, Magic Hour.  Here he's seen shredding in the Kootenay Mountains in British Columbia.  (Jeremy Allen, provided by Teton Gravity Research).
Teton Gravity Research ski film veteran Ian McIntosh stars in this year’s film, Magic Hour. Here he’s seen shredding in the Kootenay Mountains in British Columbia. (Jeremy Allen, provided by Teton Gravity Research).

Another ski movie that deserves your attention this season is “Magic Hour”, the latest from Teton Gravity Research. Segments were filmed in Montana, the Chugach and Coast mountain ranges of Alaska, and four ranges in British Columbia.

Many snow riders, especially those with a penchant for mountaineering, may find the scenes shot in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park to be the highlights. Skiers and snowboarders are shown tearing up impossibly steep and narrow descents on the Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton and other nearby peaks after climbing them on their own. These scenes are thrilling, inspiring and breathtaking in their beauty.

“Magic Hour” toured Colorado the last week of September and the first week of October, but the digital release will drop next week.

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