Skiing the Grand Teton 3-20-2015

Fredrick Marmsater and Tanner Flanagan prepare the ropes while enjoying the sunrise on the Teepee Glacier.

Fredrik Marmsater and Tanner Flanagan prepare the ropes while enjoying the sunrise on the Teepee Glacier.  7:54am

To ski the Grand Teton has always been a goal of mine.  It felt like a right of passage growing up in Jackson Hole.  I have climbed it numerous times in the summer, but to climb and ski it in the winter is no small feat.  I left the parking lot at 1am with Tanner Flanagan and Fredrik Marmsater.  The snow was bullet proof as we skinned to the meadows.  We had hoped to skin to the top of the Teepee Glacier, but as we started slipping and sliding at the base of the meadows we soon realized we would be boot packing.  We reached the top of the Teepee Glacier just in time to watch the sunrise.  It was absolutely breath-taking.

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Only 9 Days Until the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Opens

It is that crazy time of year again in Jackson Hole when the temperatures drop below freezing and the snow begins to fall out of the sky.  There is a buzz of energy in the air.  Some locals are hustling to get the last bit of their firewood chopped and stacked and others are dusting off their ski and snowboard gear.

Somehow November flies by like a dream that I can almost recall.  It is vivid, but happens so fast that I can’t quite remember what happened.  The next thing I know, I am once again slipping my feet into ski boots, clicking into my bindings, and it is winter.

I’m in Boulder!

I’m really excited to be in Boulder for the Warren Miller Premiere of “No Turning Back!”  Please come check it out!  I will be signing posters and giving high fives!  Show Schedules:

Thursday 11/13 – 8pm (Boulder Theatre)

Friday 11/14 – 6:30pm and 9:30pm (Boulder Theatre)

Saturday 11/15 – 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm (Boulder Theatre)

Play Hard Give Back!

I am so excited to join Play Hard Give Back!  It is an awesome way for me to give back to a cause that I believe in.  I have chosen to support the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative.  

“The Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project is one of my favorite foundations. Chris has developed fundraising and scholarships for youth who are chasing their dreams. I like the project because it focuses on all interests of life: outdoors, athletics, arts, and any other pursuits. ”  

The concept is simple.  Buy really great, healthy snacks and 20% of the proceeds go to the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative.  Check it out! 

Chris Anthony Youth Intiative

Pro skier tours schools encouraging kids to follow their dreams

The story of Chris Anthony’s Youth Initiatives Project

Inspire Poster

 Chris Anthony doesn’t remember the name of the athlete who came to his school when he was in fifth grade. “I just remember that he was strong-looking, humble, and seemed cool,” Anthony says. “He talked about moving forward by setting goals for yourself.” Anthony also remembers leaving school that day with new motivation. “I went home and I made a list,” Anthony recalls. “And that’s when I really sort of set myself in motion, I feel like.”

Anthony went on to a successful career as a professional skier, filming with Warren Miller Entertainment for 25 years, and traveling the globe guiding clients and coaching at camps. He’s also produced documentaries, written for magazines, worked in television, and co-authored a guidebook. Now Anthony is focusing his energy on giving the next generation of kids the same motivation that got him off on the right road. Chris Anthony’s Youth Initiatives Project brings real-life learning moments into the classroom, and also aims to connect motivated kids to educational opportunities in arts, athletics, or academics through a scholarship program.

Chris Anthony

“I’m clearly dyslexic,” Anthony says. “I wasn’t the greatest when it came to traditional academics. I pretty much failed in our system, bottom line. But the most impactful and teachable moment for me was when I could apply what we were learning to an actual physical world or an experience.”

For 16 years, Anthony has been bringing such experiences into classrooms across the country. It started as a way to get kids excited to ski through Colorado Ski Country’s 5th Grade Passport Program, which gives fifth-graders 60 free ski days as a way to introduce them to skiing and snowboarding. “The collateral effect of that was when I went in and shared the stories and the excitement through using clips out of Warren Miller films; it turns out there are a lot of very teachable moments in those clips,” Anthony says.

Chris Anthony nonprofit

When his role with Colorado Ski Country was phased out, Anthony continued to give presentations at schools, working them into the Warren Miller Entertainment film tours, absorbing any costs himself. In September 2013, he received 501(c) tax-exempt status as a nonprofit, and decided to expand the mission of his youth initiatives, including adding the scholarship program.

“I would go to the school, talk to the kids, get the kids all excited, drop all these valuable lessons on them, then leave the school, and wonder what happens from that point on,” Anthony says. “I want create a way to bridge kids to educational opportunities, whether it’s through arts, academics, or athletics. In most cases, hopefully the kids—the parents—can provide their own financing. In other cases, there may be some financial challenges. If some kid is showing amazing ability … and not just ability, but desire to chase down a goal, to aspire to go after something—if they’re showing that hunger, they would need to apply to my organization, and hopefully I’ll be able to help them.”

Mike Douglas, Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Anthony, Jess McMillan, and Chris Davenport

Anthony is also expanding the program’s network of mentors through a circle of influential friends. At the program’s annual fundraiser in Denver on October 13, fellow pro skiers Chris Davenport, Mike Douglas, Ingrid Backstrom, and Jess McMillan volunteered to give presentations. Anthony is also working with musicians such as Scott Stoughton of Bonfire Dub and Liza Oxnard, best known around Colorado as the former frontwoman for Zuba.

As the foundation grows, Anthony plans to continue to visit schools in hopes of inspiring the next generation to chase their goals. He encourages parents and teachers to reach out, because those are the people who usually initiate a visit, rather than the institutions themselves.

To learn more about Chris Anthony’s Youth Initiatives Project, request a visit, or donate, visit his website.

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Freeskier Magazine Profile

Profile: Jess McMillan is a model of strength and perseverance

January 3rd, 2013by 

On May 10, somewhere just shy of the summit of the South Sister, OR, Jess McMillan stopped hiking and wondered whether she was having fun at that moment. It had been one of those days—you know, the kind where you wake up at 3 a.m. after having climbed and skied five volcanoesand some 23,000 odd feet of vertical over the previous six days and you’ve been hiking for 11 hours in snow-magnified spring heat, and you’re almost out of water. She was exhausted. Not to mention a raven had unzipped her pack and helped itself to her entire lunch a few hours earlier. “At least he didn’t like gels or Shot Bloks,” she recalls.

Photos by Ian Fohrman in Jackson Hole, WY

Luckily, McMillan’s strength reserves run deep. The blonde 33-year-old big mountain skier, born and raised in Jackson Hole, grew up ski racing and hiking Teton Pass. After earning degrees in forestry and business while on the ski team at University of Montana, she succumbed to “the typical ski racer burnout,” and moved to Ashland, OR, to focus on kayaking for two years. She couldn’t stay away from Jackson long, though, and soon found herself on the hill coaching. One day she realized she wanted to be skiing, not standing there watching others do it. After a fourth place finish in her first freeskiing contest at Snowbird, she took second place in the IFSA World Tour the following year, and won the whole tour in 2007.

Her current successes—filming for Warren Miller and Storm Show the past two years while remaining a dominant force on both freeskiing tours and balancing various ski mountaineering projects—are no doubt due in part to her notoriously difficult training regimen and a serious work ethic.

Jess is an incredibly hard worker and dedicated to her sport,” says Crystal Wright, one of McMillan’s ski partners in Jackson and 2012 Freeskiing World Tour Champion. “I love skiing with her because I am continually pushed and always working toward being a better skier. Also, she is one of the toughest ladies I know mentally and will push through anything.”

McMillan became a certified Pilates instructor a few years ago and teaches classes in the summer months before heading down to Las Leñas, where she has skied each of the last eight years in a row. She then focuses hard on ski season training in the fall, which means four days a week at the elite Mountain Athlete program in Jackson doing everything from lifting, sprints, jumps, rope climbing to crossfit, plus three to four days of Pilates and either a run, hike, or bike ride four days a week.

“Over the years everyone has called skiers athletes,” says McMillan. “But big mountain skiers don’t typically train like world cup ski racers, and at the time I wasn’t training that way either. I decided that if I was going to call myself an athlete and allow others to call me an athlete, I wanted to be an athlete. The training has made me feel more like an athlete mentally and physically.”

It’s also made her incredibly resilient. A high-speed tomahawk early in the 2011 season left her with seriously injured C-1 and C-5 vertebrae in her neck, to the point where some specialists considered her lucky to be alive. Her doctor predicted an eight month recovery, but she rehabbed hard and by April was feeling strong and getting restless. It had just dumped four feet in Jackson and she had been eyeing Fat Bastard—a notorious whopper and TGR movie mainstay—for some time. She sent it and had a small tumble but considered herself healed and went on to place first at the Chilean Freeskiing Championships a few months later.

This determination, plus her positive attitude made her a natural choice when Chris Davenport was looking for partners for his Volcano Tour this past spring. “Jess has as good an attitude as one can have out in the mountains,” says Chris, “She is really strong and confident, a tough woman, and willing to push herself. But her optimism and stoke is really what was so important for this project.”

McMillan and Davenport were the only two to do the whole tour—15 volcanoes in 14 days for a total of nearly 80,000 vertical feet and 141 miles of skiing on every volcano from Mt. Shasta in California to Mt. Baker in Washington. They lived in and drove a huge motorhome, were sponsored by Whole Foods and consumed many Hulk Smoothies (ingredients in this concoction include Maca powder, bananas, and kale) and were joined by various friends for different peaks with up to eight people staying in the RV at one time.

During such a grueling trip, the fact that McMillan experienced only that one exhausted, questioning moment on South Sister is especially impressive. As she rested and contemplated, Davenport poked his head over the ridge from the peak just above, and yelled, “Are you coming?” Jess sighed. “Yes, I’m coming!” Chris hollered, “Well then keep walking!” “I’m walking, damnit,” she muttered, and continued upwards.

Soon she was ripping her signature powerful turns back to the land yacht, forgetting she ever even questioned herself. “You get to the top, and you ski down, and it’s amazing corn and you’re like, yeah, I was having fun the whole time.”

*This article originally appeared in the 2013 FREESKIER Backcountry Issue. Subscribe to the magazine, or get it on the iTunes Newsstand.