Words & Photos: Tyler Davis
When film premieres come to New England, you know you are in for a good time. The Portsmouth, NH stop of Brain Farm Cinema's, "The Art of Flight," was no exception to this rule. Families, industry heads, local legends and even a few New Hampshire Dirts arrived at The Music Hall to watch one of the most amazing snowboard films of the season and arguably of all time. As people filtered in, Travis Rice along with East Coast heroes Pat Moore and Scotty Lago entertained, while others took to the tried and true New Hampshire pastime of PBR and Red Bull vodka.
Even with the criticism some have had with the film, it is hard to watch "The Art of Flight" and not be impressed. I understand that not everyone has the luxury of multiple helicopters or taking trips to Patagonia, but the locations, cinematography and riding speak for themselves. Nothing against the other great snowboard films that have come out this year, which have all been fantastic, but this movie is on another level. TAOF brings snowboarding to a wider audience, yet still remains credible and true. You need to watch it more than once to truly appreciate and understand the gravity of it.
While this is Travis' film, there are a few other riders that share the spotlight. John Jackson starts things off with riding that is as controlled as it is powerful. He shows his ability to not only ride steep lines with precision, but also drop double corks on massive gaps, earning him a place among Rice as a leader in big mountain freestyle riding. Mark Landvik is back with more amazing riding and has one of the best shots of the film, a Miller flip off of a very large tree in Jackson. His shifty spin section is equally impressive, bringing classic tricks into a new environment. Nicolas Müller impresses with the style and unique eye for terrain that has come to define him. From McTwists off unnatural hips to backside 180's down large cliffs, everything is done with the signature Müller flow we have come to expect.
Since we are in New Hampshire, Pat Moore and Scotty Lago's contributions received the loudest applause of the night. Pat's riding in Jackson shows how simple tricks done with good style are as impressive as hundred foot double corks. He makes snowboarding look easy and it is only afterward you begin to realize just how good he really is. Even with his season interrupted by a broken jaw, Scotty Lago shows his versatility. He lands some heavy doubles in the backcountry and follows it up with the best frontside 900s done in transition.
Then there is Travis Rice. If his last venture wasn't enough, he's come back to solidify is spot as the best rider on the planet. He handles difficult Alaskan lines with ease and destroys massive jumps in Jackson with style and precision. There is no doubting Rice's ability as he constantly forces you to rethink what is possible on a snowboard. He takes tricks once reserved only for the park and throws them in the middle of a run, no matter how steep the pitch or how great the amount of chasing snow.
"The Art of Flight" may not be everyone's favorite video this season, but you'll be doing yourself an injustice if you don't see it. Hate it all you want, but this film is a taking snowboarding in a positive direction. If this allows more people to genuinely gain an appreciation and love for snowboard culture, then great. You may never have the chance to take a trip to Alaska, or make a movie with a million dollar budget, but this film is not about that. Snowboarding allows people to create their own path and "The Art of Flight" is just one possible journey.