Some of snowboarding’s best come out to film with WME each season. This year, veteran pro-snowboarder Rob Kingwill and Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott went to Alaska with Valdez Heli-Ski Guides to film an all-snowboard big mountain segment for Ticket to Ride. We caught up with Rob to get all the details of their epic trip.
Since Warren Miller’s first film came out in 1949, things have changed a lot in snowsports – most notably with the addition of snowboarding. With Warren Miller Entertainment still documenting the best, most fun, and most inspiring things that can be done on snow, no film is complete these days without including both skiers and snowboarders.
While WME films are still heavily weighted in favor of skiing, some of snowboarding’s best and brightest come out each season to represent the sport and connect with the audience. Veteran pro snowboarder, big mountain athlete and entrepreneur Rob Kingwill has ridden in four WME films, including a trip to Alaska this past year to film an all-snowboard big mountain segment with Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott.
Although the trip didn’t come together until the last minute, everything fell into place perfectly, according to Rob. “Seth is one of my best friends and favorite people to ride with, and we have been trying to organize a good AK trip for years,” he said. “This time, everything finally fell into place and we crushed it up there!”
For snowboarders like Rob, who is an extremely enthusiastic ambassador of the sport, being able to share his vision of snowboarding to a broader audience, and even inspire skiers to give the sport a try is one of best things about filming with WME. “I love sharing my passion for snowboarding with the world. I hope that the audience can see how fun and graceful snowboarding is,” he says.
This trip, the two athletes and the crew lucked out with incredibly cooperative conditions and nailed a great shoot. They flew with Valdez Heli Ski Guides, and based themselves out of the spectacular new Tsaina Lodge. “We were blessed with a ton of sunny days, which is quite unusual on Thompson Pass! Sometimes you can sit for weeks with no sun,” said Rob. “And the snow was stable and the lightest I have ever ridden in AK. I rode some of the biggest steepest couloirs of my life while we were filming this year- and we had so many good days in a row, it started to wear on my nerves a little bit!”
According to Rob, this was actually one of the biggest challenges of the trip: stepping it up for the camera and maintaining such a high level of focus for so many days in a row with no break due to weather. That, however, is a problem of the sort that every film and athlete crew would like to have on a trip.
The conditions were matched by the good pairing of athletes, as athlete chemistry is also a really important part of a trip going well. “Seth is one of my favorite people to ride with, and we just feed off the stoke from each other and try to push our limits. We both have a ton of AK experience, so it is nice to have someone you really trust to assess the dangers involved in riding some of the lines up there, and have confidence that we have each others backs,” said Rob.
All in all, it sounds as though the snowboarders will sneak in under the radar with what will be one of the all around best segments of next year’s film. Rob sums it up, saying “It is always an honor and pleasure to film with WME, because they make sure everything is set up so you can focus on the riding and creating a great segment – and it really was one of the best trips of my life!”