MIKE WIEGELE

SKI - - THE SHOW MUST GO ON -

Like War­ren, Mike Wiegele was a pi­o­neer of the ski in­dus­try, be­ing one of the first to ex­plore heli-as­sisted back­coun­try ski­ing in B.C. and found­ing Mike Wiegele He­li­copter Ski­ing. The Wiegele op has been featured in count­less WME films over the years, and Mike him­self also skied for War­ren’s cam­era back in the day.

“It’s been a long, hard road, and some of the roads weren’t paved.” —WM I ac­tu­ally came to Canada to ex­plore the moun­tains for the po­ten­tial of de­vel­op­ing some kind of back­coun­try ski area. I ran a ski school at Lake Louise, then made trips into the moun­tains to ex­plore. The moun­tains were big, and all the val­leys had creeks but no bridges. A back­coun­try trip could take ages. A big trip could turn into a week-long jour­ney. It would take one day to hike into the val­ley, and at least one day to climb up the moun­tain. Then you ski a day or two when you’re up there. But then you had to walk out again. I loved the moun­tains, and there’s no ques­tion that I loved ski­ing, so I was eas­ily mo­ti­vated. But the trip back down through the val­ley took a while. One time I was up on top of the moun­tain in the Cari­boos on a beau­ti­ful day af­ter a stren­u­ous trip up. I was look­ing around up there and dream­ing away. And I thought, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if a he­li­copter flew you in.’ I had taken a short flight in the Cari­boos pre­vi­ously with my friend Hans Gmoser, and on that trip, I re­al­ized: that’s the best way to ski in these moun­tains, with a he­li­copter. “You can’t get hurt ski­ing un­less you fall.” —WM I first met War­ren in 1963, I be­lieve, when I was work­ing at Su­gar Bowl in Cal­i­for­nia. He came up want­ing to get some ski­ing shots. It was my first year at the ski school, so ev­ery­one said, ‘Here, take this guy. He’s a good skier.’ And of course, I was very ex­cited to be asked, it was an honor to ski for War­ren. At the time, War­ren was the film­maker. There were oth­ers, like Dick Bar­ry­more, but War­ren was the per­son you wanted to ski for. When I first skied for him, the other skiers told me I would fall. I thought, no way, I’m one of the best skiers here. Sure enough, I crashed on the first run. I was of­ten told I had more guts than brains. But when you sur­vive a crash, and you re­al­ize you’re fine, you just con­tinue. And I didn’t crash in front of War­ren again

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