Skiing the world with Vail’s Chris Anthony

AVON, Colorado — Imagination and a good set of skis can get you global.Take Chris Anthony, for instance.Anthony, one of the best extreme skiers in this spiral arm of the universe, spent Friday telling local elementary students to aim high, then ski down.

It’s all part of the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative, a partner with SOS Outreach and Vail Resorts’ School of Shred, and shredding during school is where most of these kids wanted to be on the day before Christmas vacation.

Last year he talked to 3,500 kids, he said. It’ll be more this year.

“What I learned when I was your age is that when opportunities present themselves, take advantage of them,” Anthony told a group of Avon Elementary School students Friday morning.

His was classic advice: Set big goals, chase down your dreams and work really hard to make them come true.

Some dreams become reality, some push you toward other dreams.

His goal was an Olympic gold medal.

He didn’t win the medal, but what a great journey it’s been.

“Because I set a goal and worked hard, I got to take that journey,” Anthony told the kids. “It took me out of my home, sent me on a journey and put me through college.”

New School meets Ancient School

Anthony has been in several Warren Miller films. They travel around the world chasing stories about skiers and snowboarders.Friday’s tales started with petro glyphs of skiers some archeologists found in northwestern Altai Mountains, on the border between China and Mongolia. If they’re right, skiing is more than 3,000 years older than anyone thought, and it originated in those central Asian mountains. That’s more than 30 centuries before the earliest Scandinavian skiers.

“Remember when I called Norway the birthplace if skiing? Don’t quote me on that,” Anthony said in one of the film he showed students.

Anthony and Austin Ross hiked, rode and sledded through the snow for days until they reached skiing utopia — a cabin with what looks like their private ski mountain behind them, gladed runs below them.

There they found a pair of brothers in an isolated Mongolian tribe, two of the world’s best powder skiers, skiing on wooden skis they carved themselves and an 8-foot stick for a ski pole. They were heart-stoppingly good.

“Turning is totally counterproductive. It just slows you down,” one said into the camera. At least that’s what Warren Miller told us they were saying.

Juxtaposed against that was Anthony and Ross, with their high tech and high dollar gear.

The Equator Kids

Then it was on to Ecuador for a quick geography lesson about South America’s smallest country.

Anthony picked up a globe, located Ecuador and started asking questions:

Q: Can you ski on the equator?

A: Yes, you can ski on the equator, if you’re Anthony and make your way to the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, 19,300 feet tall.

Q: What’s the closest spot on Earth to the sun?

A: Turns out he was standing on it when he made that particular Warren Miller film. It’s also the spot furthest from the earth’s center.

Accommodations were a sleeping bag on volcanic rocks, Anthony said, and the local delicacy is roast guinea pig. The trains move at a “manana” pace and the bus runs once a week. It left three days late.

You’ll be happy to know that the Avon Elementary students knew the answers, gave those answers in complete sentences and in an orderly fashion, then got SOS hats when they got it right.

Everything is a matter of the proper motivation, like strapping on a pair of boards and skiing the globe.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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