All photos: Mike Brindley
If there's one film this winter that's been crafted to get any given crowd of snowboarders frothing, it's this.
Union Bindings' Stronger has been a long time coming, with audiences anticipating a Union flick for years, and especially now that they have of the most ridiculously rad teams ever collated, there's little wonder why.
The good news for you now is that if you get yourself over Red Bull TV right now for the online premiere, you can feast your eyes on it and skip all our chatter. Or you can stick about for a minute and see what we made of Union's powerhouse of a snowboard movie.
Innsbruck's Leokino cinema was packed out twice in one night last week as heads from all over town headed down for a double screening of of Stronger - accompanied by a five-strong selection of riders from the Union team itself: Arthur Longo, Johnny O'Connor, Gigi Ruf, Phil Jacques and Dustin Craven in attendance. And from early doors to exit time there was pure stoke in the auditorium.
The trailer doubles up as an intro for the film before Kazu kicks in with Method Man accompaniment and you know the movie is on! Release Yo' Delf plays alongside super steep stylee hits with Gigi in tow, offering incomparable hype in the opening section for the cinema going audience.
Scott Stevens and Mike Rav then segue us off for an intermediary tech trick mini ramp session, before Mr Ruf brings the tone back for a more mellow Japan section with trees holding up bigger pillows of perfect snow than should be possible - swiftly and stylishly dispatched under the tail of a Slash, of course.
Johnny O'Connor steps up next, bringing it back to the streets and gaining both grimaces and grins in equal measure. Body on the line from the get go, he dishes out a full style on all features that's well worthy of the slowmo. Steeley commitment comes with its fair share of hard knocks, but all in the pursuit one helluva' urban part - mega props JOC.
Continuing to flit back and forth between powder and handrails - Dustin Craven and Mat Schaer lead us safely through mega backcountry kickers, road gaps and tree lines, before Scott Stevens kicks in with his full part, which as per usual is high up on the mentionables list. As extra-special as any of its predecessors and some, in this writer's humble opinion, with regular tricks followed by front foot out powder-landing variations, heelcup stalling and Natas spinning the start of a handrail before heading down to front board the final section. Good luck trying to comprehend it all...
With Bryan Iguchi, Arthur Longo, Phil Jacques, Anto Chamberland, Dan Brisse and Travis Rice all still to go at this point, the flick is far from over however - and Stronger keeps on in fine form right up until Torstein Horgmo steps in to play us out. But there's little doubt that the opening act sets the bar so high that it's a tall task to keep up the pace for the full fifty minutes.
Dissect this down, however, and we've got no doubt that you'll be finding new favourite parts all throughout the winter - heck, even the end credits are ace - and if you're after some instant pre-shred stoke, play it from the top until you're chomping at the bit, and when you just can't take it any more, go out and get some yourself.