In my not so humble opinion, snowboarding is the best sport in the world… And it can also be incredible to watch. Nonetheless, snowboarding is still somewhat under-represented in films and documentaries. So, I’ve taken a deep dive into the snowboarding film archives and delivered the goods.
Here are the best snowboarding documentaries:
- The Crash Reel
- First Descent
- That’s It, That’s All
- Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story
- The Fourth Phase
Disagree? Let me explain! Scroll down for a more detailed breakdown of the very best snowboarding documentaries.
The Best Snowboarding Documentaries Of All Time
1. The Crash Reel
The first snowboarding documentary to make the list is The Crash Reel.
One of my all time favorites and arguably an unusual one to open with.
This documentary shines a light on the harsh reality of extreme snowboarding. The side of snowboarding none of us want to think about (snowboarding can be dangerous).
The Crash Reel follows the story of professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce. An amazing rider and by all accounts, super nice guy.
Kevin was on top of the snowboarding world, with a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics well within his grasp!
Unfortunately, Kevin suffered a significant traumatic brain injury in a training accident. The Crash Reel shows the incident (viewer discretion advised) before focusing on Kevin and his family as he attempts to recover from the injuries.
Kevin makes huge strides in his recovery, partly due to excellent medical care and partly through the love of his family.
However, Kevin wishes to return to professional snowboarding – despite his family’s wishes and his doctor’s medical advice.
The Crash Reel is poignant, heartfelt, and an incredible insight into the risks that snowboarders take when pushing the limits of our sport.
Here’s the trailer:
This epic documentary even won an Emmy and claimed an impressive 8.3 out of 10 on IMDb.
2. First Descent
First Descent is a snowboarding documentary released in 2005 by Universal Studios.
First Descent is an excellent watch for true snowboarding fans who want an insight into the history and current state of elite snowboarding.
First Descent follows five of the best snowboarders in the world as they discuss the history and origins of snowboarding.
At the same time, the group heads to Alaska, preparing to tackle a particularly gnarly mountain. The documentary offers an excellent “fly on the wall” insight into how snowboarders prepare for remote and untouched mountain peaks.
First Descent shows viewers unique cinematography with multiple helicopter shots of the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. You’ll also get some (at the time of filming) groundbreaking shots of world-class riders shredding insane terrain at even more insane speeds.
First Descent boasts a 7 out of 10 score on IMDb and is a classic documentary among snowboarding fanatics. It is a must-watch for anyone wanting a blast from the past.
Youtube has the whole video – but it unfortunately only works in certain countries. Give it a go if you’re feeling lucky!
3. That’s It, That’s All
The next entry on this list is That’s It, That’s All. This documentary was first released in 2008, following elite snowboarders on an epic journey to remote snowboarding locations.
When Travis Rice is involved, you already know those visuals are gonna be insane! Director Curt Morgan shows unique views and scenes that are both awe-inspiring and unforgettable.
That’s It, That’s All is the right documentary for you if you share my interests in travel, nature, snowboarding and scenery.
The documentary also captures a little of what goes into becoming and staying a top-level snowboarder.
That’s It, That’s All scored an excellent 8.3 on IMDb, and it’s one of the most timeless snowboarding docs. Did I mention, the film showcases some of the best cinematography you’ll ever see?
4. Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story
The last (but certainly not least) of our best snowboarding documentaries is Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story. This documentary follows the life and tragic death of snowboarding’s first-ever superstar, Craig Kelly.
Anyone with a passion for freeride snowboarding owes a debt of gratitude to Craig Kelly. His influence on the sport cannot be overstated.
His story of course starts out with him winning back-to-back freestyle and halfpipe competitions in the 1980s.
However, at the peak of his career, Craig Kelly makes the daring switch to freeride snowboarding. He goes on to win multiple competitions in this discipline, cementing his legacy and further growing his fame.
Craig Kelly tragically died in 2003 while guiding a backcountry mission. The snowboarding legend was just 36, but had packed a whole lot of living into those years.
This documentary shows the impact and achievements that Craig Kelly had on our sport in his short life.
The visuals can’t compete with the newer snowboarding documentaries. But if you’re up for getting retro, it’s well worth a try!
Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story scored a brilliant 8.2 out of 10 on IMDb. This documentary is inspiring, informative, tragic, and absolutely worth the few hours it takes to enjoy.
5. The Fourth Phase
He’s only gone and done it again. Travis is back!
The Fourth Phase is a thrilling documentary that follows Travis Rice as he embarks on an epic journey lasting multiple years.
This documentary follows Travis as he embarks on insane descents over some of the steepest mountains and most unique and rare snowboarding venues on Earth.
During this documentary, you’ll follow Travis as he embarks on the North Pacific Gyre’s flow. The North Pacific Gyre is a term that references the flows of currents in the Pacific ocean.
With this in mind, journey with Travis as he rides the best spots in the countries surrounding the Pacific ocean. We’re talking Alaska, the USA, New Zealand, Germany, and many more.
As you can see, The Fourth Phase packs unique locations, thrilling snowboarding scenes, and epic natural scenery into one breathtaking film.
In other words, it has everything you could want from an epic snowboarding doc.
The truly unique footage captured in this sensational visual treat earns this documentary a (fairly harsh) score of 7 out of 10 on IMDb. The remarkable scenery resembles something straight out of national geographic – the snowboarding is just the icing on the cake.
Thus completes my list of the best snowboarding documentaries of all time!
My work here is done.
I hope you’re feeling motivated to consume some awe-inspiring snowboard content.
Speaking of which, here are some top quality snowboarding blog posts.