While production companies like Absinthe, True Color and Think Thank continue to truck along, it’s clear that we’re now in the age of the brand team movie. adidas, Rome, Nike and Burton are among those going down the online series route, but efforts from CAPiTA and Nitro show that the full-length films are still alive too.
Slightly later to the party was Oakley with Snowboarding For Me, which we hadn’t heard anything about until the teaser dropped in early October. With that roster – Stale Sandbech, Nicolas Müller, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Mark McMorris, Eero Ettala, Heikki Sorsa, Terje Haakonsen, JP Walker, Danny Kass, Shaun White, Jake Blauvelt, Torstein Horgmo, Mikkel Bang – how could it be anything less than sensational? We went along to the London premiere at the Curzon Cinema to find out...
After a quick pre-screening chat with Torstein, Terje, Eero, Nico and Stale, Snowboarding For Me kicked off with a bang. Action-wise, this film is faultless; among the many highlights are Stale’s back 7 indy method during a typically beautiful Scandi sunset kicker session, a perfect Nico line shot from above, an all-too-brief appearance from Kazu, and McLovin schooling his elders on a monster hip. In a rare video appearance, Shaun gets to let down what’s left of his hair and enjoys a laid-back session with Heikki, before ‘treating’ us to a rendition of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’.
As well as a team flick, Snowboarding For Me also serves as a condensed history of snowboarding (for the last 15 years or so, anyway; we’re spared yet another airing of the Sherman Poppen/Tom Sims/Jake Burton stories). There’s a terrific scene where some of Eero’s frontside boardslides, gleaned from his many video parts, are played together to illustrate just how much higher the bar is set with every passing season. We also get another chance to see Mads Jonsson’s utterly mental Hemsedal session from 2006, which continues to drop jaws almost a decade later. Then there’s what has been one of the most talked-about scenes of the film: JP Walker recounting his groundbreaking ‘first double cork’ from 2003’s Shakedown – and getting more than a little misty-eyed in the process. At the other end of the emotional scale, a sheepish Torstein makes a full-blown apology for releasing the triple cork on the world in 2010.
Even with that line-up, it’s a shame there isn’t room for at least one woman. With Marie-France Roy, Silje Norendal, Jenny Jones and Jamie Anderson all riding for Oakley, surely they could have got some good park and/or pow footage. The time given to Danny Kass is low-hanging fruit that could have easily been bumped; he barely gets any shots in the film, and doesn’t contribute much in his interviews beyond “if you’ve got good style, you’ve got good style…"
In contrast, there’s Eero Ettala - not that we would have guessed it when we sat down to watch Snowboarding For Me, but it’s the flying Finn that’s the true star of the film. Whether he’s apologising to former employers Mack Dawg for pirating their films in the days of VHS, cracking up his fellow riders during filming sessions, or just straight-up ripping, his every appearance is gold.
By the time Nico closes yet another movie with the last word (is that duty written into his contract or something?), and the crowd filters out to the lobby to grab selfies with the pros, it's clear that Snowboarding For Me lives up to its line-up. Easily the most heavy-hitting film of the year - and one of the best.
WHITELINES RATING: 8/10