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'Chasing Shadows' With Sun Valley Gals
Monday, October 26, 2015


 McKenna Peterson has worked for the past nine summers on her Dad’s 58-foot seiner, casting a net for salmon off the coast of southeastern Alaska so she make enough money to chase the powder during winter.

 Last winter the Sun Valley native’s penchant for powder took her back to Alaska where she skied the jagged mountains above Valdez for the latest Warren Miller movie, “Chasing Shadows.”

 On Wednesday and Thursday—Oct. 28 and 29—Peterson will introduce the movie when it shows at 7:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House.

 “It was pretty surreal to see myself blown up that big on the screen,” said Peterson, who caught the premiere of the movie on Oct. 16 in Salt Lake City. “I definitely blushed a little when my face first popped up.”

 Peterson, who graduated from Community School in 2006, skied Valdez with fellow community School grad Lexi duPont and Amie Engerbretson, who hails from the Tahoe area.

 Peterson has known duPont since they were children—they raced in the Kindercup together.

 It was good to have a longtime friend there to pinch her as they stood atop the jagged mountains, she acknowledged. And it was so much fun skiing with someone I’d known forever.”

 Skiing in Warren Miller movies is part of Peterson’s heritage. Her mother, Larsen Peterson, skied in one during the 1980s--before McKenna was born.

 “I have been watching Warren Miller movies for as long as I can remember. And I thought it was the coolest thing in the world watching her take part in that movie. The movie premiere at the Opera House has always signified the start of winter for me. It gets the town fired up to go skiing!”

 As Peterson noted, Warren Miller films have provided a pep assembly equivalent to the start of the ski season since 1949 when the former Sun Valley filmmaker used to accompany his films around the nation, providing onstage narration as they showed on screen. This is the 66th in the Warren Miller collection.

 While Peterson and duPont put a local face on this year’s movie, Old Death Whisper contributed the song “Always a Stranger” for a segment in which rodeo all-stars prove themselves on the slopes during Steamboat, Colo.’s  annual mountain mayhem.

 The film also follows such skiers and boarders as Seth Wescott, Hannah Kearney, Jonny Moseley  and Ingrid Backstrom as they chase storms, snows and lines in the French Alps, Alaska’s Chugach, Utah’s Wasatch, the Chilean Andes and the Annapurna range of the Himalaya.

 Several athletes stage a stylistic return to the origin of mogul skiing. Monopalooza takes viewers to Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, Wyo., where single-plank diehards get together annually to run like a pack. There’s even a combo helicopter ski and fly-fishing trip to Alaska’s Chugach.

 Peterson started backcountry skiing in the mountains around Sun Valley. And she’s skied deep powder in Japan for a film. But skiing in Alaska is bigger, she said.

 “The terrain is vast and intimidating. I was thrown into a pretty committing line my first run and it was one of those ‘just figure it out’ moments. I had confidence in my ability and went for it,” she said.

 She paused. “I might have formed a slight addiction to skiing in Alaska.”

 Peterson will be back before the hometown crowd on Friday, Nov. 6, when she introduces another documentary film she took part in titled “Shifting Ice and Changing Tides.” The film is being shown as part of the 5Point’s inaugural film festival in Ketchum on behalf of the Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center to benefit the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.

 Then it’s on to chasing powder, as it is with every winter.

 She worked this past summer, as she has for the past nine, salmon fishing on her father Chris’s boat with siblings Axel and Dylan and boyfriend Dylan Crossman.

 “I hope to spend a lot of time in Utah and Idaho, exploring the areas that I have yet to experience,” said Peterson, who lives in Salt Lake City where she recently graduated from the University of Utah.

 Those who attend the Warren Miller movies will receive a ticket to ski and ride free at Steamboat. They will also have a chance to win ski vacations, ski and snowboard gear and swag.

 Tickets are $16, available at Sturtevants in Ketchum, and at the Sun Valley Opera House box office the night of the show. For group rates call 800-523-7117.

 Peterson can’t wait to see the film again.

 “It was interesting, too to see how Warren Miller edited our two-week trip into a 10-minute video piece,” she said. “They did a great job of portraying how much fun we were having up in Valdez. It almost brought me back to the moment.”

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