Op-Ed: An Ode to The Snowboard Movie (Plus, The Best Flicks to Watch Right Now)

There’s an epidemic going down, and a vaccine won’t save you. Metastasizing its way through snowboard culture, this infection, known as “social media,” seems to guarantee the slow death of the shred movie. At least, that’s what the gloom-mongers want us to believe.

In the glory days pro snowboarders were mythic creatures—you didn’t know where they were riding or what they had for breakfast. The snowboard movie, in turn, was sacred. A VHS tape (or later, the technologically astounding DVD) was a portal to powder: a magical drug that could scratch that itch to ride, no matter the time of year. Every fall, just as the embers of last season burned low, packed premieres doused them in gasoline.

I remember that magic. I grew up on the California coast, three-and-a-half hours from the closest resort. I fell in love with snowboarding in fourth grade on a family trip to Tahoe. But our pilgrimages to the Sierra were never enough, so snowboard movies and magazines were a bridge to higher elevations, colder temperatures and my newfound addiction.

When my best friend got a complete set of Totally Board movies for Christmas, we watched them on repeat. Later, while working at a ski shop as an angsty teenager, watching shred movies over customers’ shoulders broke up the monotonous, Sisyphean task of waxing and scraping boards. (Of course, taking the occasional surreptitious smoke break by the back dumpsters helped, too.)

When the magnetism of the mountains drew me to Colorado for college, my favorite premieres were the booze-fueled celebrations in the campus auditorium, overflowing with rowdy powderhounds. I can’t remember much about the shredding from those premieres—those were hazy times at best—but I remember the feeling. It was electric.

Then I saw Jeremy Jones’ Deeper in 2010. That eye-opening film introduced me to the skintrack. In the months that followed, I bought my first splitboard—a Voile Mojo RX—signed up for an avalanche course and went on my first hut trip. Were it not for Deeper, there’s little chance I’d be writing for Backcountry or directing the mag’s splitboard test today.

Needless to say, shred movies have always been holy to me. And yet, I’m also a millennial who’s had a front-row seat to the tragicomedy of social media. I’ve scrolled through a million clips only to forget them and watched countless snowboard movies on my 5-inch phone screen, occasionally scrubbing through filler to get to the action. Most “premieres” I attend these days are digital ones, relished while I hammer away on the exercise bike, my sweat-splattered laptop propped up on the handlebars. Not exactly red carpet.

So when pessimists lament that snowboard movies are dying, if not already dead, I get it. And it’s not just video (in this case, social media) that killed the radio star. Marketing budgets aren’t solely funding riders’ film projects these days—they’re also funneling towards influencers, ads, events, the list goes on. In our hyper-trackable world, brands quantify value through clicks and conversions, and funding powder-chasing pros doesn’t always provide the best ROI (Return on Investment).

With all due respect—fuck that.

I was reminded how special premiere season can be at the Reno debut of Teton Gravity Research’s new snowboard movie Flying High Again last month, which was directed by snowboard film legend, Mike Hatchett (read all about it here). An all-ages audience was uniformly child-like in hype. Beanie-clad and boisterous, beers in hand, the crowd punctuated every significant stomp with howls of assent. Jaws were dropped, ribs were elbowed, “holy shits” were exhaled.

Perhaps because we’re so glued to our phone screens, we need these real, meaty snowboard movies with real, in-person premieres more than ever. Watching the exploits of larger-than-life riders, shoulder to shoulder with our snowboard community, hooting like we did back in the day—that shit is priceless. A solid premiere is equal parts winter rally and family reunion.

That said, I did recently catch the live online premiere of The Manboy’s opus Tango Echo November, hosted on The Bomb Hole’s YouTube—replete with pros interacting with viewers in a frothed-out live chat. It was the next best thing.

Even when you can’t enjoy them on the big screen, snowboard movies are good for the soul. Alone, on the spin bike, my favorite flicks on repeat and life’s stresses temporarily forgotten, I can push through pain, and the shredding on display reminds me why I’m trying to get fit in the first place. Splitboarding, as Venture’s tongue-in-cheek bumper sticker proclaims, is still the answer.

So to the cynics, I say this: Long live snowboard cinema. It’ll keep kickin’ until the culture quits caring. And to the riders, cinematographers, editors and brands who keep snowboard movies alive, my message is simple and sincere: thank you.

Get Your Fix: Stoke-Worthy Snowboard Movies (all on YouTube) To Watch Right Now


Quiksilver’s latest team video is stupendous. Highlights include Miles Fallon’s electric riding in and out of the streets, Bryan Fox and Griff Siebert’s surfing the Wasatch a new one, Red Gerard going bananas off backcountry booters, and Austen Sweetin and Travis Rice putting on a backcountry freestyle clinic. Rice and Sweetin’s infinite pillow lines on “Velvet Castle” are worth multiple rewinds, and their tag-teamed Motörhead-backed ender solidifies Sweetin as one of the best in the business and adds another championship ring and Finals MVP trophy to Rice’s unofficial “Michael Jordan of snowboarding” campaign. 

Knight’s of the Brown Table

Anyone nostalgic for hourlong shred flicks that are full of character will revel in this mind-melting project from Brock Nielson’s Brown Cinema. The crew is as heavy-hitting as it gets, with riders Sam Taxwood, Gabe Ferguson, Severin Van Der Meer, Brandon Cocard, Nik Baden, Jared Elston, Blake Paul, Parker Szumowski, Cale Zima, Mason Lemary, and Iikka Backstrom all in the mix. Brown throws down from urban spots to the steeps of AK. Watch on the big screen, then watch it again.

Get Buck

Newly minted on the K2 roster, Sebbe goes absolutely bananas in this 20-minute masterpiece. Highlights include a no-grab five on Chad’s Gap, creative hand drags in Japan and pushing the limits in AK.


If snowboarding had an Oscar for best intro, it would go to the vice-fueled, Vegas-filmed opening to Casino. All that follows is similarly stellar, with bangers from Beyond Medals regulars Kevin Backstrom, Tor Lundstrom, Sebbe De Buck, Ludvig Billtoft, Ulrilk Badertscher, and Zak Hale. Mikkel Bang and Sage Kotsenburg showed up and showed out, too, as did David Djite and Henna Ikola.

Tango Echo November

Canada’s finest (and friends) plan a big mountain mission to perfection, then execute. OGs and young bucks join forces for one of our favorite flicks of the year. Expect pillows, pow, and more airtime than Manboy staple Jody Wachniak’s podcast (it’s called Air Time).


If you’ve watched his exploits in Natural Selection, you’re well aware of Mr. Horgmo’s backcountry freestyle precision. A short but sweet amalgamation of shred set to rhythmic jams, Bongo is so smooth you might want to play it on repeat.

Short and Sweet

Speaking of short and sweet, the Burton boys went on a tear last season, as evidenced by this compilation of a season’s worth of footage from Whistler and Valdez.

We Are Losers 2

When a movie opens with Halldor going absolutely ham, you know you’re in for a treat. Put on a bib and tuck into this Lobster buffet—it’s all-you-can-eat and there’s butter by the bucket.


Cowboy antics from powder-chasing Wyoming crew This Is Us, putting up wins at home and away.


A full part from the eternally fast and fluid Nils Mindnich, including shots from Utah’s Chad’s Gap, Pyramid Gap and a handful of similarly daunting chasms.

Arctic Lines

If you’re not already familiar with Antti Autti’s Arctic Lines series, I’m a bit jealous—you have two seasons of stellar Scandinavian splitboarding to catch up on. Season three is on its way this November (trailer above) and is filmed mostly in Finnish Lapland and Northern Norway—it promises to be a good one. Special guests include Nick Russell, who Antti was stoked to film with for both Artic Lines and Flying High Again

“It was great to have Nick visit the Arctic and ride with him. His approach to backcountry snowboarding is very motivating and it’s fun to be out with him,” says Antti. “To be able to show a glimpse of the terrain we have here was amazing, and I hope that he can join again at some point. He also, showed some photos from his home, and who knows, perhaps I’ll come over to US also in near future to ride with him!” 

Inyo and Worm’s Adventures

Ever wondered what the freestyle limits of splitboards are? Jones riders Garrett “Worm” Warnick and Inaki Odriozola seem to be on a crash course to find out. Creative, limit-pushing freeride-meets-freestyle riding is on full display in this new YouTube series, one we hope continues for many seasons to come.


Opening with a gnarly, old-school bail montage, this 15-minute big mountain massacre is fluff-free and full-throttle. Backcountry veteran Eric Jackson and slopestyle regular Darcy Sharpe, along with powder pirates Victor Daviet, Chris Rasman and friends just put out one of our favorite flicks of fall.


Short, sweet, and deep, K2’s Sweep was mostly shot during an all-time winter in the Wasatch and highlights the Landscape board collection (which includes Backcountry tester favorites the Excavator, Alchemist and Antidote). 

Giant Beasts, Tiny People

Stepping to big mountain faces in Alaska is no joke. The North Face’s Giant Beasts, Tiny People doesn’t just showcase big mountain riding, but also peels back the curtain and shares the mindset of two riders, Mary Rand and Taylor Godber, as they step deeper into no fall zone terrain.

Smile While You Can

For those who like their backcountry boarding served up with a side of street, peep the Rusty Toothbrush crew’s Smile While You Can. This feelgood homie flick follows the crew through both a Japanese dry spell and a three-meter Sicilian dump–two anomalies they shred to smithereens.  


More all-terrain action, with riding from Jack Mcdougall, Ben Bilocq, Zac Hale, Tanner Davidson, Darcy Sharpe and Craig McMorris.

A Note From The Author:

There are inevitably rad movies that were not included in this list. Our apologies. A bona fide avalanche of snowboard movies has hit the web this winter, and keeping up is challenging at best. These are good problems to have, though—we hope they keep coming!

Last but not least, if you’re enjoying these flicks, show some support, even if it’s just liking, commenting, subscribing or sharing with your crew. And when that next premiere comes to town, snag a ticket—it’s always worth it.

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