6 of the Best Ski and Snowboard Documentaries

Sit­ting down to watch a ski movie is good. But sit­ting down to watch a ski movie that will teach you some­thing is even bet­ter. Though they’ve been around for a while in var­i­ous iter­a­tions, there’s no doubt that the doc­u­men­tary style ski movie is becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar. It’s no longer suf­fi­cient to show lots of real­ly cool ski­ing and snow­board­ing. There needs to be a spot­light on anoth­er star: the sto­ry of an ath­lete, the his­to­ry of the sport, an impor­tant issue fac­ing the sport, etc. In some cas­es, there are more inter­view shots than pow shots. Like these, for example:

Shane McConkey is, unfor­tu­nate­ly, only one exam­ple of a phe­nom­e­nal ski­er who died far too young. Most of us know him for his amaz­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the world of freeski­ing, his knack for strip­ping down to noth­ing, or his crossover into the world of BASE jumping—but there was much more to Shane than crazy stunts. McConkey was released in 2013, and though we all know how the sto­ry ends, this doc­u­men­tary tells the tale of Shane’s life in a beau­ti­ful way.

Ski doc­u­men­taries weren’t quite as pop­u­lar in 2007 as they are now, but Steep still made waves when it hit the scene. Steep offered a unique behind-the-scenes look at the world of big moun­tain ski­ing. It showed the ath­letes as relat­able peo­ple, not mere­ly as zany stunt­men. It dis­cussed the draw and ratio­nale behind freeski­ing, beyond the “extreme­ness” and adren­a­line rush­es. It’s a lit­tle sober­ing to watch, as too many of the ath­letes fea­tured have since passed, but it’s a must to include on your list.

Pret­ty Faces
New this year, Pret­ty Faces is a ski doc­u­men­tary that is being met with stel­lar reviews. Pret­ty Faces goes where no oth­er ski movie has gone before: into the world of women’s ski­ing. It’s not cutesy, it’s not preachy, and it’s not full of tired clichés. What it is, is a well-made ski film show­ing —not telling—why female skiers of all ages are awesome.

Snow­board­ing For Me
Anoth­er film from 2014, Snow­board­ing For Me fea­tures a ros­ter of ath­letes walk­ing you through the world of snow­board­ing. Stu­dio inter­view footage just might exceed actu­al on-moun­tain footage, but that’s not a bad thing. Snow­board­ing is a rel­a­tive­ly young sport, mean­ing that many of the sport’s pio­neers and rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies are still alive today—and are like­ly still snow­board­ing. The fresh­est crop of ath­letes has the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to shred along­side the sport’s old-school heroes. This is a great one to watch, even if you pre­fer two planks to one.

The Lit­tle Things
We wrap this list up with anoth­er new release, The Lit­tle Things. This doc­u­men­tary goes where few snow­board films dare: it tack­les some pret­ty heavy envi­ron­men­tal issues. Yet some­how, it comes across as inspir­ing, not preachy or con­de­scend­ing. Some of the ath­letes fea­tured are a lit­tle more extreme than the aver­age person—both in sus­tain­able lifestyles and in shred­ding skills—but over­all, the film makes liv­ing in an envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble way seem acces­si­ble and achievable.