From near-death to starring in a movie: a Snowbasin teen’s miraculous recovery
MOUNTAIN GREEN — For more than 70 years, the annual Warren Miller ski movie has created an iconic gathering for skiers to get stoked for the season. A teenager from Mountain Green will debut in this year’s film, Daymaker.
The name Warren Miller is practically synonymous with ski films. Last winter, Tyler Blocker’s father nominated him in a talent search for this year’s movie called Daymaker. They caught up with Tyler last winter at his home mountain, Snowbasin.
“I started skiing at age two. My mom went up and taught me,” Tyler said. “Once I could keep up with my brothers, my dad came and taught me from there.”
Since then, he’s been skiing as often as possible in a family of avid skiers.
“It was always a family thing,” he said.
His mother said he was always playing in the snow as a toddler.
“I brought him down to this little hill that was down from our house and I put the skis on him and let him go down, and he did that for hours,” Raelene Blocker said. “He would get back up, and just go down. I just knew that he loved it.”
By the time he was in first grade, Tyler said, he knew skiing would be a big part of his life.
“I really just like the freedom of it: going up there and being creative and doing what I want, escaping life’s problems,” he said.
The Warren Miller film is part of their family tradition.
“It was always a big part of my life, go see the film, get hyped for the ski season,” Tyler said.
Now, he’s in it, embracing the fear on the toughest terrain.
“It’s adrenaline. I mean…It’s a drug. It’s fun.”
The Warren Miller crew actually surprised him at Snowbasin when Tyler was expecting a regular ski day. Jonny Mosley, a legendary freestyle skier and Olympic gold medalist, and Marcus Caston, a ski pro from Salt Lake, joined him for 10 days of free-riding the gnarliest lines.
It was an amazing experience, he said. A dream come true. But, a year earlier, his ski dreams nearly vanished as he was skiing off the hill in a hurry to catch the bus home.
“Coming down the groomer, going really fast, I just caught an edge and then just landed a little weird,” he said.
He was knocked out briefly, and taken off the hill by ski patrol in a sled.
He ended up in the resort clinic. He called his dad, an anesthesiologist, who raced to the resort.
“As we were helping him out to the ambulance, he just kind of crumbled on the floor,” said Rob Blocker, Tyler’s father. “His eyes rolled back in his head. I checked his pulse. He had no pulse.”
The father started CPR and began to administer IV fluids. Rob Blocker said that he is used to that kind of life-saving work on the job. But, this was different, as he tried to save his son’s life.
“It scared me to death to have my son there in that situation,” he said.
Tyler survived with a ruptured spleen and a damaged kidney. Doctors told him he would need six months to recover. But, Tyler was skiing again in two weeks.
“I could ski,” he said. “I just couldn’t ski hard.”
Free-ride skiing is a dangerous sport, which is not lost on his mother.
“Every time I watch him go off a cliff, my heart is fluttering,” she said. “It’s a one-eye open type thing. Just land it… Don’t crash. Absolutely, I worry about it all the time.”
His dad, who is also his coach, said they work to reduce the risk, and make sure that every move in every trick that Tyler does is executed with control.
“With training and all that type of practice that we do, it’s actually a much safer sport than it might look,” Tyler’s father said.
The film has already opened new doors for Tyler. He’s picked up a couple of sponsorships, and hopes to have another opportunity in a film. But, he still loves skiing for all the same reasons he always has.
“Getting a good powder stash, or landing a trick is fun, and all,” Tyler said. “But, a lot of it is friendship, meeting new people along the way.. just the experiences.”
The film debuts in a week in Orem, and Tyler and his family will be there watching it. There are also showings in Park City, Salt Lake City and Ogden next week.
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