You have to be a pretty big deal to oust worthy contenders like ‘Alaska’ and ‘avalanche’ from top spot on our list, but the simple fact is that shred flicks don’t come much bigger than Absinthe.
Once upon a time, the video landscape was dominated by the American juggernauts Mack Dawg Productions and Standard. Then, in 2001, along came a young Swiss filmmaker called Patrick ‘Brusti’ Armbruster and his creative partner Justin Hostynek. The two had collaborated on a small 16mm production called Tribal, and encouraged by its success, they rounded up a bunch of largely European talent – promising kids like Gigi Rüf, Nicolas Müller and Romain de Marchi – for their first proper release: Transcendence. The film was a breath of fresh air – mixing a creative soundtrack with beautiful cinematography and equally stylish riding. Its opening part, which starred an unknown American teenager called Travis Rice, blew minds and launched a career, while JP Solberg’s debut in a rabbit suit – to the strains of The Beatles’ Day in the Life – was nothing short of iconic.
Since then, Absinthe Films have provided us with some of snowboarding’s most memorable moments: the Hemsedal kicker session, a camo-trousered Romain dropping in to Paranoid Andriod, Gigi falling through the air in Futureproof, THAT Chad’s Gap session, Mikey Leblanc riding a wooden sled, Dan Brisse gapping buildings and of course more Nicolas Müller soul shredding than you can shake a powdery stick at.
The irony is that Absinthe are now regarded as the formulaic establishment giants they once pitted themselves against. Still, yardsticks don’t come much better than this.