Night skiing footage in Afterglow © Sweetgrass Productions
One of the best ways to get in the mood for winter is by binge-watching a few great ski and snowboard flicks. With temperatures dropping and the first snowfalls already on their way in the Alps, now is a good time to get started! This list has something for everybody, from light comedies, to uplifting memoirs, to moving tributes for the greatest freeriders to grace this planet. And, of course, you can count on some unbeatable footage of virgin snow and crazy stunts that will keep you on the edge of your seat! In no particular order, here are what we consider the best ski and snowboard films ever made.
The silver screen adaptation of Eddie the Eagle’s dogged quest to get into the 1988 Calgary Olympics was an instant favourite when it hit theatres last year. Starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman, the film more than lives up to the hype. If you want to meet Eddie himself, you might find him downing a cold one at the Snowbombing festival in Mayrhofen this winter…
The undisputed pioneer of ski and snowboard flicks, Warren Miller has been producing one film a year since his 1949 debut, Deep and Light. Higher Ground is one of his best to date, with an all-star cast featuring names like Sarah Burke, Shane McConkey and JP Auclair as they roam the off-piste terrain of the Rockies, the Alps and Alaska.
Director Lucy Walker brings us the nail-biting story of snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s crash on a Park City superpipe just before the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Much to the chagrin of his anxious family, Pearce’s life-threatening head injury can’t keep him away from his beloved snowboard. The film also features footage of Shaun White, Pearce’s childhood friend and rival, and Sarah Burke, Canadian superpipe pioneer who died in a training crash at the same superpipe in 2012.
A joint endeavour by Sweetgrass Productions, Philips and the Swedish Agency Ahlstrand & Wållgren, Afterglow is a short tribute to the beauty of night skiing. Filmed in deep powder country in British Columbia and Alaska, the amazing nighttime lights and colours have led to critics hailing this as “one of the most cinematically profound ski movies ever made.”
A tongue-in-cheek freeriding movie, Claim is all about fantastic feats and the egos of those who perform them. The biggest names in the skiing and snowboarding world make the epic jumps and wicked lines look positively easy. One of the last films to feature freeride skiing pioneer Shane McConkey before his tragic death in 2009.
Lynsey Dyer’s Pretty Faces is one of few movies to celebrate women skiers. The talented all-female cast takes backcountry skiing to new heights, all while empowering a new generation of gals to get out there and live their dreams.
More than just another off-piste snowboarding movie, The Art of Flight takes the sport from the resort to the rugged wilderness. Along the way, Curt Morgan, Travis Rice and the rest of their crew will explore undiscovered spots where nobody has ever ridden before. This is intense freeriding at its finest.
Legendary French freeskier Candide Thovex documents his rise to fame, from his childhood through to his gold medals at the X Games and the Freeride World Tour, and his battles with a severe back injury along the way. Breathtaking scenery from mountains in Europe and Alaska complement the incredible footage.
Once a skier, always a skier. American Lindsay Vonn is the most successful female skier of all time but it all comes crashing down around her ears when she injures her knee training for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Determined not to give up, she perseveres until she manages to get back on the slopes. The documentary portrays the psychological battles involved in her rehabilitation.
"Streif" is the name of the downhill ski race course at Kitzbühel, considered one of the most challenging race pistes in the world. The film follows the world’s top athletes as they prepare to tackle this intimidating piste.
In this tribute to the legendary Shane McConkey, his friends and fellow skiers flock to Squaw Valley to compete in G.N.A.R., a competition based on a game McConkey used to play with his friends back in the day. The Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness measures not only skiing ability but also plenty of laughs (and is not recommended for prudish viewers). A fitting way to remember McConkey and his irreverent approach to the sport he dominated.
The ski scenes in this early James Bond movie helped put skiing on the map in Britain. George Lazenby, in his only Bond film, takes his audience on a tour of the Swiss Alps while he and Diana Rigg work to bring down the evil SPECTRE organization. Like any good Bond flick, the action is interspersed, of course, by plenty of pretty girls and steamy scenes with Rigg.
It’s all about the need for speed, baby. This classic film stars Robert Redford as an upstart American skier hell-bent on winning a golden medal in ski racing at the Olympics, and his coach, Gene Hackman, who is at his wit’s end. Downhill Racer was filmed entirely on location in Colorado and in Alpine World Cup venues like Kitzbühel, Megève and St. Anton.
A self-proclaimed “documentation of the ski world of 1988,” Blizzard of AAHHH’s aims to spark a sense of wonder like in the old-time ski movies. Passionate director Greg Stump does just this, setting jaw-dropping freeriding scenes along to a hard-hitting eighties soundtrack. Filmed on location in France, Switzerland and America.
If you like 80’s music, retro ski suits and partyin’ it up old-style, then this beloved 1980’s cult classic is for you. Hot Dog… The Movie is the quintessential ski bum movie and will make you question why you’re not on the slopes with the gang right now!
There are countless wonderful ski films out there. Which ones have we missed? Do you prefer epic stunts or ski comedies? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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