BOULDER - In 1995, filmmaker Greg Stump's camera was rolling as the slope ripped from beneath his stars, skier Scot Schmidt and snowboarder Craig Kelly near Fernie, British Columbia. Only weeks earlier, Stump had captured the two escaping a massive slide in Russia.
As he watched the avalanche engulf his two friends, he made a quick promise.
"I said, 'God, get them off this mountain alive and I won't do this again,' "said the legendary filmmaker whose 1987 "Blizzard of Aahhhs" forever changed ski movies.
Kelly and Schmidt survived the slide unscathed, and Stump walked away from the ski movie genre he had redefined only a decade earlier.
"It started getting too dangerous," said the 52-year-old from Victor, Idaho.
Today, after two decades filming music videos and commercials, Stump is back, but not in a way that could violate his promise. After four years of tinkering, Stump's "Legend of Aahhhs" is hitting screens, tracing the history of ski movies and big-mountain skiing, with a focus on the role of his pioneering and provocative "Blizzard of Aahhhs."
"Blizzard" birthed the modern day ski movie industry, inspiring nascent filmmakers like Steve Winter and Murray Wais at Crested Butte's Matchstick Productions and Steve and Todd Jones, founders of Teton Gravity Research.
"I think I showed those guys that you didn't have to be established. You didn't have to be Warren Miller to make a ski film," Stump said.
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