Some of the best snowboarders in the world gathered this past weekend in Encinitas – the mecca of world-competitive skateboarders, surfers and snowboarders – yes, snowboarders.
The attraction was the screening of a new 45-minute film at the La Paloma Theater highlighting jaw-dropping jumps, turns and mountain descents by a fearless group of young top athletes.
The snowboard movie, “Fleeting Time”, took two years to shoot on slopes in Alaska, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Japan, Oregon and Wyoming.
It marks the directorial debut of Ben Ferguson, a 27-year-old snowboarder from Bend, Oregon, working with Homestead Creative and co-producer with Red Bull Media House, which is the title sponsor of a multi-city screening tour. It will be followed by a free week-long digital premiere on Red Bull TV from November 3-9.
The irony is that many snowboarding stars have ties (and some have their own homes) here in sunny San Diego County.
“Southern California is a magnet for world-class athletes, no matter what sport you play,” says 22-year-old Hailey Langland, one of two women featured in the film.
“It’s a great place to take a break from the mountains and resettle before the season starts.”
Langland’s boyfriend of four years, Red Gerard, 22, bought a house in Oceanside this summer, where the couple plan to make brief stops in the summer when not on tour.
“For me, surfing and being at the beach complement my time in the mountains snowboarding and in cold weather,” says Langland.
Gerard officially lives in Silverthorne, Colorado, where he built a miniature snowboard park with a tow rope in his backyard.
I caught up with the couple by phone in Switzerland, where they flew in from Encinitas to begin their training in the Swiss mountains.
Their film colleague Mark McMorris, a three-time Olympic bronze medalist, is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, but has long had an escape house in Encinitas. In 2020, McMorris surpassed legendary snowboarder Shaun White’s X Game medal record of 18, and he’s starring in his own video game.
Brock Crouch, another participant in the film, lives in Carlsbad and attended the screening. His career was put on hold after he was caught in an avalanche in Whistler, Canada in the spring of 2018.
The ordeal broke his back, ruptured his pancreas and knocked out his front teeth, but he survived after being buried alive for five to six minutes under 6 to 7 feet of show. He remembers having “the impression of being stuck in concrete”.
Crouch, 23, also surfs competitively and competed in the Junior World Surfing Championships.
Filmmaker Ferguson, whose grandfather was born in Carlsbad and whose great-uncle still lives there, notes that George Burton Carpenter bought a house here. He is the eldest son of the late Jake Burton Carpenter, who founded Burton Snowboards and is considered one of the inventors of modern snowboarding.
And let’s not forget that snowboard Olympian Shaun White, now 36, is a graduate of Carlsbad High School.
These athletes are drawn to the strong action sports community, Ferguson says. Additionally, an abundance of good surf spots and parks for skateboarding, often off-season pastimes of the snowboarding crowd, are key attractions.
North County is also home to sports magazines, including the new snowboarding periodical, “Slush,” and others associated with the industry, its brands, and major sponsors.
Langland admits people seem a bit confused when they hear she grew up in the quaint surf town of San Clemente.
She first snowboarded at age 5 with her dad in Bear Valley near Lake Tahoe and fell in love. At age 6, she was sponsored by Burton Snowboards. She won an X Games gold medal at age 16 and became an Olympian in 2018.
In “Fleeting Time,” Langland, who specializes in slopestyle, big air and superpipe competitions, did everything the guys do. She says her biggest challenge has been maneuvering the heavy snowmobiles up the slopes of the mountain with her small weight of around 100 pounds and her height of 5 feet.
“She has some amazing imagery in the film,” Ferguson says. “People were losing it to her” – especially her frontside 720 (an aerial maneuver incorporating two full turns). “It was probably one of the best a woman has ever done.”
Langland admits the maneuver was his scariest moment in the film. She had just driven 7.5 hours from Washington State to reach Whistler, had slept little and was exhausted. Despite her reluctance, she says it only took two tries to land the jump.
She found it particularly gratifying that several women approached her after the La Paloma theater screening to tell her that it was so inspiring to see (two) girls in the film doing the same maneuvers as the guys.
Ferguson describes “Fleeting Time” as a classic snowboard movie with crazy big jumps, big tricks, high-octane shredding and big lines – all captured in incredible photography and drone footage. A dramatic heavy metal, rock and punk soundtrack increases the adrenaline rush.
The hardest part, he says, was trying to keep calm during slow production times.
“We just chased the storms. A week in advance, we would find out where it would snow the most, roll the dice and helicopter or drive snowmobiles,” says Ferguson, who co-stars in the film with his brother, Gabe, and several of their friends. .
Each participant is highly trained in safety, undergoes avalanche reconnaissance and rescue courses, and is equipped with first aid and survival equipment. The closest avalanche call they got was in Haines, Alaska, where they encountered a patchy blanket of snow. A certain movement has occurred and is diffused in the film.
Ferguson and Gerard hope to collaborate on a future snowboard film project that takes less time, possibly for a YouTube release.
“I just hope it inspires young kids to get out and snowboard,” Gerard says of “Fleeting Time.” Judging by its audience of around 500 people in Encinitas, it will.