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After a successful Sphere of Influence tour in the US, Absinthe Films returned to their native European shores to promote their latest movie, Neverland. After stops in Zürich, Chur and Innsbruck, Onboard's hometown of Munich was next on the cards so come Friday night the crew headed to the Forum Kino full of anticipation for the boy's 10th effort. We were not to be disappointed.
Gloria from Planet Sports, Nico Müller and Brusti.
We arrived to be greeted by the rather large tour bus that the boys are cruising the highways and bunking down in. Apparently there's 12 duders essentially living in there for the tour's duration and Nicolas Müller seemed pretty stoked to only be joining the carnage for a few days in there: "It stinks like hell. Just the smell of man," he chuckled. Aside from the Zen-like Müller, Romain de Marchi, JP Solberg, Cale Zima and Bode Merril were the other stars of the movie that Absinthe had roped into bus living. Fortunately, as JP explained, they'd decided to make the toilet "liquids only," so it certainly could have been worse.
The tour bus. Smell the Glove, bitches.
Bog chat aside, with a couple of beers in hand we settled down into the cinema (it's way better having a movie premiere in an actual cinema than in a club - you can actually watch the thing rather than having to bro down...) and Brusti and filmer Shane Charlebois introduced the riders and the film. And after a number of ads, including a rather amusing Whiteout mag one, we finally got to Neverland.
Tour filmer Prendi and JP Solberg.
So, what's it like? I confess to start with I was making little notes on my iPhone but I can't type so fast on the damn thing so I decided to abandon that techie bullshit method and go for the good old fashioned gut feeling when it's all settled in.
This is the answer to the question "What's the worst photo in the world ever?" There's some riders and Absinthe crew in there somewhere...
First up I was totally backing the music selection - they've struck gold without reverting too much to the shred movie clichés of bleepy electro, punk or hip-hop - and as Nico Müller, Kevin Pearce and Eero Ettala get the ball rolling to the tune of The Who's Baba O'Reilly you're really grabbed by the danglies. The fact that these three are shredding natural lines through bottomless pow in Japan may have something to do with that too. Pillows, huge powder slashes, drops and follow-cam lines through the Land of the Rising Sun's fabled trees certainly gets you pumped to ride. That shit looked so frickin' fun.
Then comes the Yes men. DCP, JP Solberg and Romain have a combined part that flicks the Vs at the Bs and shows that in these three riders you have some of the burliest backcountry freestylers in the business. Double corks, gut-wrenching slams and fuck-off big cheese wedges are the bread and butter here. It was a pleasure to watch de Marchi and his unique, balls out charging, and his double cork could be the standout trick of the movie. Annie Boulanger and Marie-France Roy step up and do it for the ladies next to some Santigold goodness and as Boulanger stakes her claim as the heiress to Victoria Jealouse's freeriding throne, MFR's short part blew my mind with the strongest backcountry freestyle I've seen from a woman.
Nico Müller has a powderphilic part.
I gave up on notes after that, but here's what sticks out 3 days and a hangover later...
Dan Brisse has a real eye-opener too. I feel he's one of those Americans that we Euro's hear snippets of but don't really know too much about, but this kid is on fire and shows his versatility by tackling everything in his path and setting down his own Brisse-style double cork that got the crowd pumped. His could have been one of the most talked about parts at the bar later. MFM has a small cameo where he does his thang while all the time itching to get back to filming his movie, and Sylvain Bourbousson really steps up from last year's effort with some huge hits that shows he's one of France's leading backcountry freestylers. After his bar-raising movie That's It, That's All, I was interested what Travis Rice would come up with and you won't be let down - he hams it up in a soft-focus, white stallion-riding intro and then proceeds to lay down the kind of riding that has seen him rightly hailed as perhaps the greatest snowboarder of his generation: plenty of crazy double corks, monster wedges and an eye for lines few others would see or would think of hitting - there's one line with a tree bonk backside 3 to flat landing that you'd have to be stupid or Travis Rice to attempt. Fortunately he is the latter and stomps it effortlessly.
Absinthe used to be known for focussing more on park and backcountry than urban, but in recent years they've addressed this and in Neverland they perhaps have their strongest downtown riding to date, thanks to the likes of Cale Zima and co. A lot of whipping in at mach 10 to gaps, rails and ledges will have the jibbers stoked for sure. But then comes Gigi Rüf taking it back to the pow pow to the tune of The Specials. You can check the Onboard Gigi Rüf edit of some of his shots here, but the full part (which he splits with Jules Reymond) is fully bangertronic - watch out for the dam bomb drop we have on the cover of issue 107, the chair lift hit, the line with the back 3, the huge chalet transfer, and the double cork off the überpoppy wedge. As a 90s raver would say, "Soliiiiid!" The Austrian end is kept up as he's followed by Wolle Nyvelt, beginning with a few things on his bindingless Äsmo that few can do on a real snowboard, before he straps in proper and powers through the powder as you'd expect him to. Seriously, this dude must have had waaaay too many powder days to get so good on a thing without bindings...
More party people.
To cap it off, newcomer Bode Merril gets the ender with a diverse part and a banger double cork. Those in the know have been pointing to him as someone to watch over the last few years and, in Neverland, he certainly delivers. It's funny to think that when they started making movies 10 years ago Absinthe were all about getting Euro riders established on an international level, and now they bring those from across the pond to our attention. Absinthe keep up their record of having great outro music as Air play that whistley tune as I had to switch to manual to harness a call of nature.
And that was that. I want to go snowboarding now. Should you get this? Yes. Anyone who won't like this? Err, not really. Maybe those who want more flashy editing. Highlights? Romain, Brisse, MFR, Travis, Gigi, Merril. Lows? You'll want to ride powder right now. This isn't really a low though is it.
And, while the party was fun, it was not like last year's one for Ready, hence you have more words and less of this booze-filled snappy cam action, which is a good thing for my advancing years I guess.
Find out when the bus pulls into your town by checking out the dates of Absinthe's Neverland tour.