The nature of a competitive athlete is to be on the road, traveling the globe to chase podiums, climb rankings, and secure a position at the top of one’s sport. For snowboarders, the “top of one’s sport” takes on a few different meanings. Does it mean landing a closing segment in a Teton Gravity Research annual film? Is it going viral with a street edit? Or is it earning a spot at the top of an Olympic podium?
There are many elements of snowboarding that riders would like to pursue but can’t find the time, energy, or funding to commit to a project outside of their particular specialization. Last season, seven-time FIS Crystal Globe winner Chris Corning and U.S. Snowboard Pro Team member Chase Blackwell made it a point to film alongside a grueling event schedule with the goal of producing their first-ever film, Teal.
“I wanted to showcase our riding in a different light than what people are used to,” said Chris. “I wanted to bring the street riders into the eyes of competition fans and get the competition riders in front of the powder and street followers.“
Riders on the project included Windham Miller, Brett Moody, Sam Klein, Colton Carroll, Conor Carroll, TJ Holman, and Sam Anderson. Alex Harvey took on the responsibility of filming and editing with filming support from Calen Albert. It was all hands on deck with athletes also assisting in capturing secondary footage from different angles.
Although the project isn’t complete, Chris and Chase both agree that like competition, producing a snowboard film is not easy with many unique challenges.
“I’d say competition and filming are both pretty difficult, but we are out of our element when producing a snowboard film,” said Chase. “In a contest, it’s very routined and we have a set schedule. That’s often not the case when filming. Plus, we don’t have to build the jumps or the pipe we’re competing on.”
Chris also noted a major difference related to the timeline in both worlds.
“Doing well at a contest has such instant gratification compared to producing a movie,” he said. “I think it’ll take longer for the emotions around successfully completing the movie to set in.”
Whether filming or competing, it helps to enjoy spending time with your fellow athletes. While Chase and Chris are both friends and U.S. Snowboard Teammates, their schedules are very different as riders who compete in halfpipe and slopestyle. The two riders may not share an event schedule, but they do share the motivation and interest to get out and create.
“Working on the Teal project with Chase was rewarding in the sense that it allowed us to become closer friends,” said Chris. “We compete in different disciplines, so we don’t always get to travel together, so this was a great opportunity for us to ride and have some fun.”
For Chase, riding with Chris offered up more than just comradery, it was a chance to feed off Chris’s experience and his eye for the backcountry.
“I had so much fun working with Chris,” Chase reflected. “He’s done more backcountry filming and filming in general than I ever have. Chris was really helpful and knowledgeable about what we were hitting and what tricks/angles for shots were going to look the best. All in all, we’re just really good friends, so getting to shred backcountry with him was all time.”
The movie title Teal speaks to the riders in the film. Like the color, each rider is unique and has yet to truly find their place in the mainstream. Teal sets out to give these riders a home. They may not all belong to one crew, but they came together to embrace each other’s out of the box styles with out of the box features.
In a world where content rules, filming has become a critical element in building any snowboarder’s personal brand. Last season, Chase and Chris managed to find the best of both worlds, successfully competing at an elite level while working on a collaborative film project. With riders usually having to be laser-focused and dedicated to one element of the sport to find any level of success, it’s a beautiful thing when athletes like Chris and Chase make time to pursue a passion project.
As Chase and Chris pack their bags for U.S. Ski & Snowboard training camp at the Stomping Grounds Park in Saas Fee, Switzerland, they have more than just on-snow pursuits to look forward to this Fall. Stay tuned for the release of Teal coming soon!