Coloradan Chris Anthony is well known in skiing circles. A Winter Sports Hall of Fame inductee, he has all kinds of achievements and accolades under his belt, including being a Warren Miller veteran for nearly three decades. He is also the founder of the nonprofit Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project. We spoke to Anthony about his career, his fascination with the legendary 10th Mountain Division and what he has going on this winter
Broadly speaking, can you talk a little bit about the impact skiing has had on your life?
It has defined me. It gave me direction at a time in my life when I needed it most. Where I lacked in so many other skills or academically, the sport gave me self-esteem and confidence.
Looking back over your life and career, it would seem that you were pretty much destined to make a career out of skiing. But did you ever dream or seriously consider going into a different career?
I dreamed and trained to be the best. I thought perhaps that one day I would win a gold medal and never thought about anything past that. When I realized my path was not exactly on track to be the one percent of the one percent, I started to panic. I looked for other paths to success. I was bike racing at the time to stay in shape for skiing. I thought for a moment that maybe that would be my destiny because being dyslexic, academia was never going to open any doors. But the bike racing failed me or I failed it.
I needed to figure out a path in the sport I loved. I knew I had to get creative, because if I didn’t I was really scared about where I would end up.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with the Warren Miller team?
I grew up watching the films and going to the show every fall when Warren himself hosted it. It was magical, passionate and thrilling. As a kid I wished that someday I would be one of the skiers in his films. Warren was amazing; the films were a passion project that became a career, but he said it never felt like a job.
Are there any moments that stick out in your mind from all of those years?
There is literally a lifetime of mind-boggling moments, 28 years of them. I’ve done things that if I described them people would think it was fiction, like Forest Gump or Indiana Jones. Perhaps one day I will sit down with my journals, articles I have written and stored memories and put those experiences in a book.
How do you feel about Colorado and what it offers in terms of adventure?
Colorado is everything to me. The Spanish side of my family goes back 700 years when the Spaniards invaded [what is now] Colorado. My real last name is Rodriquez. It is the Spanish blood that gave me the red hair and the need to adventure all the time. I have gone deep into our state and never get sick of it.
You seem to have visited all corners of the world. Apart from Colorado, what other places and experiences stick in your mind?
There have been so many magical moments in so many locations. The ones that stay with me the longest are the ones that scared me, the ones that I’m not sure I would want to repeat. But then there are a few that made me sit there and just wonder how in the heck I ended up there, like the time I was on the top of a peak above the Arctic Circle in Norway in the middle of the night by myself. It was May, and the helicopter dropped me off then left to fly one of our injured team members to hospital. I just sat there. No one in
the world knew where I was except that pilot. The sun was just cruising below the horizon; the sky was purple and gold. Not a hint of wind. It was dead silent. I could hear the electricity in the air. It was surreal.
You have raised a lot of money for various charitable initiatives, but how important was it for you to start the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project rather than continue working with other organizations?
Very important, but it came about organically. The last thing I wanted to do was start up another nonprofit, but when I saw some unethical practices in others and the fact that a certain percentage of youth was being ignored because they didn’t fit the scope of what grabs the most sympathy, I wanted to try and do something about it. The next thing I knew, I had a mission statement which gave me an objective to achieve. I am still very supportive of several other foundations I believe in, however.
This January you hosted a 10th Mountain Division Ski Experience. Can you tell us a little bit about your fascination with the 10th Mountain Division?
I’m a skier. I grew up surrounded by their legacy without ever knowing their story. I was pointed in the direction of one of their unique accomplishments, and so I reached out to Warren Miller Entertainment to see if we could do a story about it, but they weren’t interested. But I was. I started to raise money to try and make a documentary on my own. I eventually talked WME into at least helping me with some interviews. They did and it sparked their interest.
What these guys did was amazing, and that generation, WOW. The stories keep falling in my lap and I’m supposed to tell them, or so I have convinced myself. I am currently working on a second documentary.
And finally, away from skiing and sports in general, we hear you interned for the actor Michael Douglas. How did that come about and what does an intern for a famous Hollywood actor actually do?
This would be another amazing chapter in the book of my life story, part of my Forest Gump journey. In short, while I was attending a graduate film school program at USC, I realized that it wasn’t going to get me the break I needed. So, I snuck onto the Paramount Studios lot and dropped off my resume at the front desk of several departments. In one of the buildings, the girl at the front desk stepped away right as I walked in. I noticed the title on one of the doors down the hallway said Vice President of Development. I ran in the empty office put my resume down on her desk and ran out. A few days later while living in a shit hole in Compton, I got a page to come in for an interview. Turned out it was Douglas / Reuther Productions. They needed an intern to do basically all the crappy work. But my foot was in the door and lots of crazy things happened.