It would not be inaccurate to call Tyler Blocker an overachiever. He’s the kind of kid who sees the prize and creates a route to it — often in record time and occasionally against expert advice.
Take his life goal for example. He’s just 17, and he’s already searching for a new one after being selected to appear in the latest Warren Miller ski film: “Daymaker.” The film was making its Utah swing this week, starting in Orem on Wednesday before hitting Ogden, Salt Lake City and Park City.
“My list of goals growing up was like, No. 1 was to be in a ski movie,” said Blocker, a Mountain Green resident who began skiing at nearby Snowbasin Resort at age 2. “That was No. 1. Not to win competitions or any of that. I’ve always wanted to be in a ski movie. So [I] knocked that off. So that was kind of nice.”
Still, the Morgan High senior’s selection to appear alongside Olympian Jonny Moseley and pro freeskier Marcus Caston of Salt Lake City in a film produced by the granddaddy of ski flick makers came as a shock. Prior to the film, Blocker hadn’t won any major freeskiing contests, caught the eye of any big sponsors or generated much publicity. He didn’t even have a real coach. His dad technically held that title, but Blocker taught himself by studying films of other skiers. Yet Blocker has one thing: a knack for making things happen on his own, warp-speed timeline, especially when skiing is involved.
Just ask his dad — or his doctors.
Blocker’s shockingly quick recovery from a potentially fatal ruptured spleen a year earlier and his unwavering devotion to skiing were the points Rob Blocker emphasized when he nominated his son to appear in “Daymaker.” This year was the first time in the nearly 70-year history of Warren Miller films that the company had asked fans to suggest local riders for an appearance.
“Really where he got his training from was from films like Warren Miller,” said Rob Blocker, who has made a tradition of attending the annual film with his family. “I expressed that pretty strongly and then, you know, this whole drama about his accident the year before. I think that made for a good story.”
Yeah, briefly dying and then coming back to life can be pretty compelling.
That’s how Blocker and his anesthesiologist father view what happened to him in February 2021. He had been hustling down a groomed run at Snowbasin to catch the bus home when his skis caught an edge and he crashed. He hit his head and blacked out for a moment. When he came to, he couldn’t move his legs. He could, however, wiggle his toes. The resort personnel who attended to him told him he wasn’t paralyzed, but that he could be bleeding internally.
Blocker’s first call was to his father, an anesthesiologist who left work early to pick him up. When Rob arrived, Blocker seemed just a little beaten up. Still, Rob thought it would be worth taking his son to the hospital to make sure he was OK. As he helped his son stand up to walk to the car, Blocker went limp.
“My eyes literally just rolled back into my head, and I literally just coded right there,” Blocker said. “Lost pulse. Heart nothing. Just lifeless.”
The episode only lasted a moment. Doctors would later pinpoint two major issues that caused Blocker’s collapse. One was a pinched artery to his kidney, which he eventually lost. The other was the explosion of his spleen, which required an emergency splenectomy.
Tyler barely ate or drank while he was in the hospital. In fact, to be released, he said, all doctors required was that he drink one cup of water. It took him 30 pounds and 10 days.
Less than a week later, though, he asked his dad if he could ski.
Blocker’s doctors had told him it would take six weeks of mostly bedrest to recover.
“And that’s just that’s just not who I am,” Blocker said. “I can’t stay still for that long.”
So he did some research and found a study that advised light exercise as a way to speed recovery from a splenectomy. Other studies his father found backed the research up. So, against Blocker’s mother’s wishes, Rob gave his son the green light — with one condition: Tyler had to stay on the bunny hill.
Well, that didn’t last long, either.
“I went skiing [up] Little Cat and I felt fine,” Blocker said. “And so I decided to go up the bigger lift, John Paul. And I remember, I didn’t even do a groomer lap. I just went straight underneath the lift, [where there’s] just, like, moguls.”
When Blocker went in for a checkup a couple of weeks later, his doctors were both furious and fascinated. By then, Blocker estimates, he was 95% recovered.
“The doctors were like, ‘We’ve never seen a recovery that fast, ever,’” Blocker said. “And the doctors were also really, really mad that I went skiing.”
Fast-forward a full year, and it was Blocker who was surprised as he exited the locker room at Snowbasin only to catch sight of a camera crew and, moments later, Moseley and Caston. When they asked if he was Tyler, Blocker went tongue-tied, completely fumbling his on-camera debut.
He made a much better impression on the mountain. On the first day, he dropped into a rarely skied line called First Finger. His father had warned him that with the spring conditions, there wasn’t a way out of it. He called it “a cliff to nowhere.” Yet, somehow, Blocker found a line, launching himself off the cliff and landing in a two-foot-wide gap before gliding out of it.
“The first couple of days, couple of runs especially, it’s a little like feeling it out. You know, [seeing] what he can do,” said Caston, who added he had no idea what to expect from Blocker. “But then we pretty much got after it right away. And he killed it.”
Caston, 34, also made his film debut in a Warren Miller production in his early 20s. He said it changed the course of his life.
“Ten years later, it still maybe hasn’t settled in,” he said. “But it’s really cool. It’s been about a decade now that I’ve been able to travel around the world and see new places and meet new people through the opportunities that I’ve had through Warren Miller. It’s been huge in shaping who I am.”
Blocker would like his appearance in “Daymaker” to bear similar fruit. It’s already elevated him onto Snowbasin’s roster of sponsored pro athletes, a distinction typically reserved for athletes 18 and older, and brought him a gear sponsorship with K2.
He’s aiming for something bigger, though. Call it life goal No. 1.2.
“Honestly, [it’s] being in a second Warren Miller movie,” he said. “Cause I guess I just went with the plot in the first one. But if they actually chose me to be in the second one? That would be really cool.”
He may just need a little time to make it happen.
Warren Miller ‘Daymaker’ Utah stops
• Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. — Clark Grand Theater, Orem
• Thursday, 7:30 p.m. — Peery’s Egyptian Theatre, Ogden
• Friday, 6 p.m./9 p.m. — Rose Wagner Theatre, Salt Lake City
• Saturday, 4 p.m./7 p.m. — The Ray, Park City
• Nov. 17, 7 p.m. — Green Canyon High, North Logan
• Nov. 19, 7 p.m. — Green Canyon High, North Logan