Warren Miller film featuring Howelsen Hill to premiere Thursday
As he left the indoor ice arena for weeknight practices, Ian Anderson could never help but feel jealous of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes sliding down Howelsen Hill Ski Area, underneath a dark sky with lights over the hill and fresh powder beneath their feet.
“I remember so many times getting out of hockey practice as a kid, looking at the kids on Howelsen Hill and looking at how fun that looks,” Anderson said.
Anderson was raised in Steamboat, though he never got to ski Howelsen because it was used primarily for Winter Sports Club athletes during his time growing up.
Still, Anderson knew how much the oldest continually operating ski area in North America meant to the community, and when he accepted a job with Warren Miller Entertainment, he wanted to spotlight a series of smaller ski hills in resort towns. Howelsen naturally came to mind, alongside Snow King Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wyoming.
“A lot of the skiing you see on screens and on the internet has turned into just big resorts and conglomerate passes,” Anderson said. “In this day and age, these town hills are getting forgotten and lost along the way, and these big resorts are dominating the industry.”
He finally brings Howelsen to the screen in the upcoming film, “Winter Starts Now,” which features a six-minute segment on Howelsen Hill.
Howelsen Ski & Rodeo Manager Robbie Shine is seen discussing the area’s importance alongside Paralympic snowboarder and Steamboat local Noah Elliott, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer at 15 years old. Shine also skies with famous skier Marcus Caston.
Elliott began working toward his dream of competing as a Paralympic snowboarder after being treated for nine months at a hospital in Missouri.
“Everyone in the ski industry dreams of being in a Warren Miller film,” Elliott said.
Elliott was excited when he heard about the film and was asked to be in it because he believes skiing and snowboarding should be inclusive sports for everyone, regardless of physical ability.
“It’s truly been an honor to be a role model and kind of help people see that no matter what happens to you, you can still find good in the hardest of times,” Elliott said. “The next person who’s sitting around in the hospital or the next person who just had an injury, it really shows what you can do to overcome that obstacle.”
Anderson worked as a parks crew member under Shine several years ago. In 2020, as Shine was watching a Warren Miller segment on Crested Butte Nordic skiing, he called Anderson to suggest spotlighting Howelsen.
“(Howelsen) really is so rooted in skiing history and the town’s history, but there are just fewer and fewer places like that every year,” Anderson said.
Born and raised in Steamboat, Anderson eventually moved around the country and now lives in Boulder but has never gone more than a month without returning to Ski Town, USA.
“Steamboat is very much my home,” he said.
Shine, who did not grow up in Steamboat but has helped grow Howelsen by installing a new chair lift, adding more skiable terrain and expanding it to all community members, said the movie is a spotlight on what Steamboat residents recognize is a local treasure.
“Howelsen Hill has been on the map, but this really lets everyone know what (it) means to the community,” Shine said. “I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve had people across the country call me to say that it’s an amazing segment, and it represents Howelsen well.”
The film premiers Thursday at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, located at 1275 Crawford Ave. Tickets can be purchased at SSWSC.org/events/warren-miller-movie.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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