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Warren Miller's Line of Descent

Experience the thrill of snow sports in lovingly photographed glory

Line of Descent puts you on the slope for a cavalcade of intense snow shenanigans. Photo credit:

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For all of its problems -- and, truly, there are many -- the 1985 James Bond outing, A View to a Kill, has its interesting points: Christopher Walken and Grace Jones going all gonzo wackadoo as the villains; Roger Moore blessedly coming to terms with being too old for Bond, once he found out that he was older than his love interest's mother; and the fledgling sport of snowboarding being introduced to a mainstream audience. Admittedly, that last bit is not completely accurate; in the cold open of the film, James Bond eludes the bad guys by effectively snowboarding down a mountain on one of the skis of a blown-up snowmobile, rather than a true snowboard.

And yes, he does this to the dulcet tones of a lame cover of the Beach Boys' "California Girls," which sort of flies in the face of the ethos of extreme sports -- which would soon become snowboarding's bread and butter -- but who's counting?

In any case, snowboarding was on the map, and would continue to worm its way into the public consciousness through the totes extreme ‘90s, along with other rad activities. These days, with the Olympics embracing sports like snowboarding, there sometimes needs to be a reminder of how awesome, death-defying, and unmistakably cool these sports can be. Skateboarding videos have lived on over a couple generations, being passed around as evidence of how gnarly these athletes can be, complete with wipeouts that are designed to emphasize the triumph of a trick working.

For sports in the snow, the documentation has to be a little more rigorous than getting your buddy to pull out his phone. This type of documentation takes advantage of film crews flying to all manner of wintery locales, like the Planet Earth crew; instead of observing animals in the wild, though, this form of anthropology concerns filming athletes putting their bodies on the line in service of catching air on snow-packed slopes. Warren Miller's Line of Descent is such a film, following multiple generations of what they call "snow riders."

Ranging from skiers and snowboarders to dogsledders and motorcyclists, Line of Descent covers all aspects of snow sports, as a cavalcade of athletes venture down slopes all across North America. Tommy Moe, Jonny Moseley, JT Holmes, Lexi duPont, Seth Wescott, Kalen Thorien, Marcus Caston, Jeremy Jensen, Griffin Post, and more all appear in the film, providing a vibrant mixture of veterans and newcomers. Fans of snow sports will recognize some of these athletes and get a thrill from watching the ins and outs of them practicing their craft, but even people unfamiliar with these sports may still get a charge from watching skilled individuals risk life and limb in the pursuit of a thrill.

James Bond may have had the first stab at introducing a global audience to extreme snow sports, but those willing to shoot down a snowy mountain at breakneck speeds have long since won our hearts. Line of Descent is a chance to see that work up close, lovingly photographed in all its glory.

Warren Miller's Line of Descent, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, $20, Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia,

Warren Miller's Line of Descent, 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 10, $22, Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, 253.591.5890,

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