We just went to see "First Descent." I hadn't even heard that it was playing but my girlfriend did and suggested we check it out. You don't see many (any), feature length serious snowboarding movies in the theaters.
It wasn't quite what I had expected.
I am not sure what they set out to try to do but what they delivered was an intriguing collage of the new blended with the the old focusing on evolution of snowboarding. Lots of parallels to kiteboarding kept popping off the screen. The flick had tons of early clips from the start of snowboarding in the mid 1960's blended with extreme backcountry free riding in Valdez, Alaska.
It went over the early culture, banning and rejection of snowboarding (sound familar?), and the entry into the mainstream. There were loads of cameo spots with Jake Burton and other early leaders in the sport. It went further than that throwing together some "old" guys, 40 years that pioneered backcountry free riding with some of the hottest up and coming names in competitive snowboarding, around 18 years.
Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Shawn Farmer, Nick Perata, and Terje Haakonsen star in "First Descent." The stage was set for mutual study and learning among the new talents and old timers.
It looked into relative rider strengths, uncertainty and heliboarding exploration in the avalanche prone steeps of Valdez. It's a documentary, one of the best on the evolution of snowboarding that I have seen.
This Valdez "bunny slope" wouldn't show up in this flick. It's too tame.
Wish I could find a wide shot of some of this terrain. Steep, intense stuff with frequent avalanches and tumbles into rocky coulies.
There was one scene early on in which the built a ramp high up in the mountains over a large deep power bowl. The old timer free riders don't mess with ramps while the hot up and comers live and breath the stuff in the all terrain parks and half pipes. Farmer ate snow while Shaun, one the strongest competitors out there went off over and over again. It helped to level the playing field when they tackled some insane steeps.
They also had some of the most dramatic, closeup rider/avalanche imagery I think I have seen to date. Intense stuff.
At 111 minutes, there is a lot more to the flick than I touched on here. It will be making the rounds of theaters out there. Snow riding season is here in many areas, it would be worth a look.
The title sequence comes at the end of the movie. I'll not spoil it by describing it but it delivers some unique perspectives worth checking out. You may not love it but it does deliver a different view of a sport so many of us enjoy.
The movie website has trailers and some interesting flash effects at:
Director: Kevin Harrison and Kemp Curley
Written By: Kevin Harrison
Producers: Kevin Harrison and Kemp Curley
Executive Producers: David Burwick, John Galloway, Jaime Weinstein, Tera Hanks, and Chris Moore
MPAA RATING: PG-13 for brief strong language and a momentary drug reference
RELEASE DATE: December 2, 2005