Snowboard in 4K
think everything starts with the water’, including this film’. ‘The Fourth Phase’ is the result of Travis Rice’s curiosity for this ‘magical substance’. It was Dr Gerald Pollack who lit the spark, and the hyperactive snowboarder became interested in the doctor’s theory, which affirms there is another phase apart from the already-known solid, liquid and gas phases. It is ‘living water’, like that inside human beings and cells, thicker than normal water and capable of storing energy. Rice was fascinated by the concept and decided to use it as the name of his film, a tribute to H2O in all its phases. ‘The medium that we play in, and dedicate our way of life to’, and now also the protagonist of his new adventure.
The water cycle marked the route through the Northern Pacific. On the journey, you can see how the experienced Rice glides his snowboard over the Japanese Alps, across Russia, Alaska and the most inaccessible landscapes of his homeland, Wyoming. He does not do it alone, he is accompanied by 11 professional snowboarders. His friend, Mark Landvik ‘Lando’, Eric Jackson from California, and legends like Bryan Iguchi to name just a few. The production can be summarised as more than three years of work, five helicopters, 8,690km in a ship on the Pacific and 2,000 hours of footage that have been reduced to 92 minutes of acrobatic jumps and pirouettes in the midst of mountains and snow.
Snowboarder by surprise
Travis Rice was born in Jackson, Wyoming, where his father taught him how to love the mountains. He started to shape his own legend at the age of 18, when he went to an event organised by Snowboarder Magazine without an invitation. When everyone saw his performance, they were amazed, and Rice soon became one of the most important figures in the snowboarding world.
‘The Fourth Phase’ was released at the San Sebastian Film Festival after a world premiere held in Los Angeles, and the audience was captivated by the spectacular shots filmed in 4K, with a resolution four times better than high definition. To achieve such a carefully made film they had to withstand extreme filming conditions, with temperatures as low as -40 ºC, and adapt a crew that was not used to working in this type of surroundings. ‘It takes a lot of experience, skill and knowhow, mixed with some great problem solving’, explains Rice.
Luckily he has more than enough experience. Rice is one of the most influential snowboarders on the circuit today. His skills on and off the slopes have seen him participate in more than 20 films and documentaries. In 2011, his film ‘The Art of Flight’ became the decade’s most successful action sports film. For the director, Jon ‘JK’ Klaczkiewicz, it was a great inspiration. ‘It was a visual masterpiece’, he affirms, aware of the pressure of maintaining the level of quality in ‘The Fourth Phase’. The chosen locations and the sportsmen’s dangerous acrobatics have helped the film live up to its expectations.
The art of flying in three dimensions
‘The Art of Flight’ with Travis Rice was released in 2011 to positive reviews. A year later, the 3D version came out. Venture 3D was in charge of making us enjoy the magic of snowboarding as if we were with Rice in Alaska or the Patagonia. The studio was also responsible for converting ‘Titanic’ into 3D.
The challenge was to do it only in places where Rice had never snowboarded before. ‘That turned out to be quite an undertaking, especially in my own backyard in Wyoming’. They had to go deep into the mountainous state to find the type of landscape they were looking for, and it is there where the longest descent in the film takes place: 1,025 metres from the summit.
In Japan they landed to the west of Nagano, in the Japanese Alps, one of the places with the greatest amount of snow in the world and the venue for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Epic snowfalls and rugged landscapes did not prevent Rice and his Japanese companion, Shin Biyajima, from dominating the situation with their innovative tricks on their snowboards.
Entry into Russia wasn’t easy; they spent seven hours on the border with 78 pieces of luggage, but it was worth it. It was the only way to follow the hydrological cycle, which went from the Kuril Islands (in Japan) to the Kamchatka peninsula, right in the middle of Siberia. This part of the world is volcanic and earthquakes are fairly common. The peninsula lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotskis and in one of Russia’s snowiest landscapes, Rice and Eric Jackson complete the longest vertical straight-line descent of 1,829 metres.
‘Alaska is… as far as you want to take it’ says Rice. And this is where his journey comes to an end, against a backdrop of potential avalanches and cliffs on every corner. Freestyle taken to the limit in 4K.