Shredding the Gnar

Off the Grid. Many snow pros star in this ski documentary narrated by Jeremy Bloom and directed by Max Bervy.

Reviewed by Matt Kettmann

Santa Barbara wouldn’t know it from the sunshine and 80 degree weather we’ve been enjoying lately, but the season known elsewhere as “winter” is already descending upon the rest of the northern hemisphere. Good thing we’ve got Warren Miller to remind us, because for the 57th year in a row, the ski movie demigod has put his name on yet another exciting downhill flick, once again trotting the snowy globe in search of the steep and deep.

OTG_Martin_McFly_1.jpgNow in his early eighties, Miller is unfortunately no longer the voice of these films; his narration occurs in often oddly placed snippets which were culled from previous films and generally talk about wanting to be young again. In his wake, the filmmakers here employ the voice of Jeremy Bloom, the Olympic skier who now plays pro football as a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the practice of using a loose-fitting cliché as the title, and then trying to wrap that into the storyline. This time, the theme “off the grid” is evoked to show how pro snow riders get away from it all. It kinda works, as all Miller titles kinda do, but what really makes us drool is the footage.

Specifically, we’re talking backcountry snowcat skiing near an array of deserving locales, including the Lincoln-log-constructed Chatter Creek Lodge, open lines at B.C.’s new Kicking Horse Resort, Utah’s Wasatch Mountains (their “Ski! Utah” license plates now make perfect sense), and even a “Monopalooza,” where “tens” of monoboarders gather to show off their style. There’s a 255-foot cliff jump, vegetable transactions in the capital of Kashmir, winter-locked villages in the Indian mountains where only skiers can visit, the 17th Miller film appearance of funnyman Chris Anthony, inspiring stories of one-legged and paraplegic backcountry wizards, and professional snowfights in Japan where snowballs are manufactured with exquisite precision. (There aren’t that many women featured, however.)

And then there’s powder, powder, powder — oh-so-much powder. And that’s really what the Warren Miller experience is designed to do: boost our stoke and our hunger for this year’s soft bowls, cornice drops, and tree weaving. And in that task, Off the Grid succeeds remarkably.

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