How Far Has Skiing Come

SKI RACER – a film by Paul Ryan on the 1969 World Cup circuit – A Summit Films Production

I made Ski Racer in 1969, 39 years ago. I watch the film today and wonder about all the choices that go into making a film. There is no traditional narrative, no singular event was portrayed; rather I was trying to use the cinematic process to convey the visceral element of ski racing and its nuances, in particular the emotional dichotomy between severe racing competition among individuals and the more reflective joy of free skiing. I wanted to create a cinematic equivalent to all this.

As Dumeng Giovanoli says in the film, “I like to race because I like to be better than my friend… to go faster than him. But when the racing season is over, I go back home and ski for myself… free, in powder, it’s like you fly… that’s really skiing not racing. Racing is something different, much different.”

The film is impressionistic, it treats Slalom, Downhill and Free Skiing as separate experiences with different emotions. Fragments of many different races are edited together to create nature of each discipline.

The significance and the appeal of Ski Racer probably lies more in the film making than the subject matter. It was perhaps the first film to combine the irreverent energy of rock music, optical effects and complex quick cut editing to create a transcendent subjective representation of racing.

I avoided traditional narration in favor of using the very personal voices of the racers themselves. Billy Kidd, Jean Claude Killy, Spider Sabich, Dumeng Geovanolli, Karen Budge, Karl Schranz, and many others, seemed to welcome the chance to express their motivations and feelings of what racing meant to them.

The film is reflective of the times. The ferment of late sixties is echoed in the interlacing of music from The Grateful Dead, Steve Miller, Mike Bloomfield, and Indian Ragas with the ski action.

Paul Ryan November 10, 2008

250 Most Influential People in Snowbiz

The Ski Channel has developed a list of who’s who in the snow business and attempted to present it on the internets. What a horrible way to display a list of influential people… so I made a small list of my influentials.

14 – Warren Miller
16 – Mcconkey
31 – Dumont
33 – Hall
35 – Wade Martin
38 – Moseley
58 – Fayfield
95 – Seth Morrison
98 – Johnny Decesare
99 – Mcilvain / Auclair
102 – Greg Stump
104 – Steve Winter
110 – Colby West
118 – Obermeyer
122 – Jerard
133 – Chris Prybylo
135 – O’Connell
139 – Scot Schmidt
164 – Kristi Leskinen
184 – JF Cusson
191 – Colin Kaufmann
197 – Billy Kidd
209 – Josh Berman
211 – Mahre Bros
212 – Candide
216 – Tom Wallisch
231 – Stein Eriksen
232 – Riley Poor
241 – Tommy Moe
250 – Bruce Willis!!!!?