‘Ride’ makes it worth the trip

  • Sharon Wootton / Outbound Columnist
  • Friday, October 27, 2000 9:00pm
  • Life

This year’s version of the annual Warren Miller ski film, “Ride,” is mercifully tighter than last year’s film, bringing it back to the peak after that foray into triteness.

It’s the farewell film for Miller, who has been gradually turning over the business to his son, Kurt, and Peter Speek since 1989, and who has announced his retirement from the film world.

“Ride” is funny at times without going the Beavis and Butthead route, with great action shots and the mandatory clips from the past.

There’s scenery to die for (perhaps a bad choice of words for an extreme film), and the music selections match well with almost every feature.

Just imagine logging 40,000 vertical feet in one day.

Whether you’re a snow lover or an armchair traveler, “Ride” is a go, if only for the aerial views and a greater appreciation of the Dawn Patrol at Whistler. The avalanche hunters, armed with sticks of dynamite sometimes packed in their backpacks, create avalanches before the moving snow can dispatch skiers.

One of the best shots is an explosion of snow, with chunks of it flying down at the camera.

The Wisconsin ski team of Adam and Luke Schrab are at it again, building another ski jump out of telephone poles, scrap wood and hay bales in the middle of flat farmland. By weaving their progress in short clips through the film, we have to wait until the end to see whether they’re a success or whether it will fall down in the wind, like last year’s version.

In New Zealand, the test is to ride down the unskied southwest face of Mount Aspiring. In the United States, skiers and snowboarders whip through the trees, with bump specialists bouncing over moguls in Keystone, Colo.

Although one skier had a camera strapped to her waist, the few shots were hardly worth it, and bracketing scenes didn’t show her skiing with it.

One of the treats of “Ride” was the section with North Cascades heli-skiing. The helicopter dropped three riders off about 30 miles from the Canadian border. The skiing was so good that it even surprised the skiers (“I had no idea any of this stuff was in Washington”) – certainly a mixed blessing.

The French segment featured heart-pausing photography of parachutists jumping off rocky peaks and snowboarders practically free-falling down ridiculously steep slopes.

Beckenridge’s mogul exhibition featured Duran Duran’s “White Lines,” a perfect match, and some of the best in-studio add-ons to the film.

“Ride” takes snow fans to Mount Elbrus, Russia, the highest peak in Europe. At 18,500 feet, it was almost too much for the adventurers, who actually suffered from oxygen deprivation and were, in one quote, “a mess.”

But once they plodded to the top, it was all gloriously downhill from there.

Other segments featured children on the snow, a relatively boring big-air snowboard piece, happy snowboarders in the powder paradise of Austria and the doubtful sport of extreme snowmobiling.

Don’t let me go there.

But the costumed Australians (a clown in a kayak, a sledding barbecue squad and one entrant with the ‘Olympic torch’) jumping for cash was a tickler, and the last piece, the expedition of a lifetime in Greenland, may have been the best segment in years.

It was a fine mood piece, and the trio of songs (“Drum Trip,” “Babylon II” and “Looking For”) complemented the countryside and action.

“Ride” will be shown at the following locations (prices are $13.50-$15.50, tickets at Ticketmaster outlets, 206-628-0888):

  • The Avenue Theater, Seattle. 6:30 and 9:30 Friday, 6 and 9 p.m. Nov. 4, 5 and 8 p.m. Nov. 5.

  • Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue. 6:30 and 9:30 Friday, 3, 6 and 9 p.m. Nov. 4.

  • Mount Baker Theater, Bellingham. 8 p.m. Nov. 2.

  • Historic Everett Theater. 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Nov. 10.

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