Ever since I first watched The Art of Flight while bartending at a ski resort on the French Alps, I’ve loved the heart-pounding adventure of ski and snowboard films.
I struggle to call these films “documentaries,” because this isn’t some marketing guy being interviewed in a pristine office. Some of the stuff you’ll see is downright bonkers.
Like Christmas movies, ski/snowboard films can be a tad formulaic. I searched for unique storylines and a diversity of styles to watch for free on YouTube. From environmental awareness to high-adrenaline action shots, here are six films to add to your ‘must see’ list this winter:
This film highlights northern British Columbia—specifically, Terrace’s snowy mountains and steelhead fishing scene. “This place has the best of both: epic mountains and wild rivers,” Erik Jackson says in the 35-minute film. Over a single winter season, he balances the tranquility of fly fishing with the high adrenalin of snowboarding (along with a few humorous moments) for an enjoyable short movie.
2. The Collective
Red Bull Snow and Faction Skis explore the theme of skiing as a community. Most of us seek a group where we belong with a common mentality, shared purpose and meaningful relationships. Nearly 50 minutes of stunning mountains in Europe, sharing beers in Japan, skiing the streets of Helsinki and the backcountry of British Columbia coupled with an effervescent soundtrack showcase the laughter, encouragement and good vibes of skiing.
3. Purple Mountains
Founder of ‘Protect our Winters’ (POW) Jeremy Jones takes viewers through his experiences as a snowboarder who loves the mountains enough to fight to save them. Not your typical environmental documentary, this film might help you see the climate crisis in a new light. Finding common ground with climate doubters in Nevada is inspirational to watch. We need snow—and not just for the $20 billion ski industry.
Here’s my bias: this is the best film on the list. Eight skiers and snowboarders embark on a backcountry adventure in Pakistan. This ambitious trek leads to daring ice climbs, stunning ski lines and intimate shots of the crew and local porters. The athletes are instantly likeable and relatable, sharing their own fears, trepidations and setbacks as journal entries. Get ready to see what a mountaineering expedition is really like.
5. The Way I See It
Yes, it’s 10 years old, but that doesn’t make this film any less epic. Enjoy this ‘retro’ ski film by MSP. Full of shocking drops, huge falls and beautiful skiing that looks like flying, plus a wicked throwback soundtrack, this movie is hands down fun to watch. There is, however, an element of tragedy: after Ingrid and Arne Backstrom filmed their brother-sister ski trip to Lake Tahoe, Arne died in Peru while skiing.
6. Few Words
Check out this unique profile of the epic skier Candide Thovex. Born and raised in the mountains, the young skier progresses to a terrain park innovator and resurfaces as a world champion big mountain freeride skier. Told through the eyes of other professional skiers in a mixture of English and French, turn on subtitles if you can’t speak the latter.
P.S. Do you love epic adventure stories?
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