Warren Miller Slept In His Car in the Resort Parking Lot Before It Was Cool
More important, he helped countless new outdoorists to fall in the love with the mountains
For the third time in as many years, the outdoor retailer trade show began by reflecting on the life and impact of one of its pioneering legends and a person who, in many ways, created a model that Outdoor Industry Association strives to emulate through our Participation pillar work. This morning our industry learned the sad news that Warren Miller had died today at his home in Washington. Tributes and obituaries, like this one by SKI Magazine, declare: “We are forever grateful to Warren Miller for chasing—and capturing on film—the freedom and individuality that our sport is rooted in.”
Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show attendees around the Convention Center today were reminiscing about their first Warren Miller films and their favorite Warren one-liners. It’s a rare winter-sports enthusiast who hasn’t archived Miller’s unmistakable musings alongside memories of their unforgettable powder days and regrettable ski bloopers.
But when we at Outdoor Industry Association think about Miller’s legacy, what stands out most is what he did, almost singlehandedly, to grow participation in the sport among communities and demographics the ski resorts of the time weren’t talking to. In its earliest days, the Warren Miller film tour wasn’t the giant production it is today. It was him, in his car, with his film projector, on the road. He took his film to any high school or community center around the country that would have him, and showed people—most of them kids who knew nothing about skiing—that, when combined, mountains and snow make the world’s greatest playgrounds.