The impact that Jake Burton Carpenter has had on all of us, as snowboarders, is so great–and even that is an understatement. His vision, inspired by the Snurfer, created a cultural phenomenon that we all hold dear, that drives and defines us, and provides us with groomer runs, powder turns, and a community like few others. Burton Snowboards, Red Bull Media House, and HBO have collaborated on a documentary that tells the story of Jake Burton and how he pioneered snowboarding, the battles he fought with his health, and his legacy, carried on with every turn we make.
Here’s the official word:
Dear Rider tells the inspirational story of how Jake Burton Carpenter, the man who pioneered the sport of snowboarding, took a favorite toy and developed it into an international cultural phenomenon. Inspired by the Snurfer, a surfboard-styled strip of wood with a rope on the nose to steer, Jake created his first snowboard, as an inexpensive, back-hill alternative to skiing—maybe even a new kind of niche sport. From there, he developed increasingly versatile boards, lobbied ski resorts to allow snowboards onto their slopes, sponsored world-class athletes, fended off rival companies, and navigated the cultural backlash to what media outlets called “a fad” and the “Worst New Sport.” By the late-90s, Jake’s vision catapulted the anarchic, punk-infused culture of snowboarding into the mainstream—and, ultimately, onto the world stage of the Olympics.
But even as Jake succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, he must contend with mounting personal struggles and escalating health troubles, including his battle with Miller Fisher Syndrome, a rare nerve disorder that paralyzes him completely and shakes his spirit of optimism and adventure to its very core. Culminating in the 2020 Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, the first Burton event following Jake’s passing, the film shows how far the sport has evolved since he first set out to convince people to try surfing on the snow. From the soaring tricks with seemingly endless rotations to an enormous community of athletes, media, and fans; and the sport’s expanding global reach, to the way Jake’s wife Donna Carpenter now leads the company, we see the range and depth of his legacy. As the Burton US Open draws to a close, a group of the best snowboarders in the world poach the halfpipe finals, riding together down the mountain—a fitting tribute to the man who brought them all together, and a vivid illustration of how one person’s dreams, coupled with tenacity and grit, can literally change the world.
Dear Rider, an HBO original documentary and true story of how Jake Burton Carpenter turned a childhood pastime into a cultural phenomenon, premieres November 9th on HBOMax