Apocalypse Snow

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Snowboarding has its roots in the 'states in the 1960s. At this time Sherman Poppen patented a primitive snowboard. It didn't have bindings or edges but it sold well and competitions were organised. People like Jake Burton, the skateboarder Tom Sims and Dimitrije Milovich developed the concept. Milovich found the Winterstick-Society in Salt Lake City. Fans of big surf, they built their own swallowtail boards on the same lines. They were designed for the deep powder they found in the local ski resorts.

Meanwhile in France developments had taken a different turn. The monoski, invented in 1978 in Chamonix was the thing to master. 70,000 monoskis were sold in 1980 alone (they must be up in attics somewhere along with all those Minitel terminals!) but there was not a single snowboard in the shops. A few people, including Alain Gamard, a producer of adventure films, had seen and brought them back from the states.

Apocalypse Snow

1981-82 saw the opening of les Arcs 2000. To help publicise the new resort, Gaimard invited the Winterstick Team over from the States. They worked with the 20 teachers from the local ski school but when they left only one continued, a certain Régis Rolland. Grenoble born and a former member of the French ski team Rolland was fresh from his military service. The next year Gaimard had been contracted by les Arcs to make a publicity film for the resort, Ski Espace was filmed in the winter of 1983 by Chamonix filmmaker Didier Lafond. Régis and his snowboard had a starring role.

For the following season Gaimard, Lafond and Rolland had a bigger project, what was to become the cult ski film: Apocalypse Snow. During the 32 minute movie Régis is seen riding with ease while pursued by a gang of vicious monoskiers including the Chamoniard's Alain Revel and Philippe Lecadre. The film toured European movie theatres as part of the Nuit de la Glisse and helped launch snowboarding on an unsuspecting European public as well as setting the baseline for future extreme ski movies.

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