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Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story to Anchor AFF Snow Night

Jackson, Wyoming – December 20, 2007 – The Alpinist Film Festival announced today that it will present Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly Story on January 17, 2008, at the Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, Wyoming. The film–an acclaimed celebration of the life and snowboarding of legendary rider Craig Kelly–will conclude Snow Night, the opening night of the 2008 AFF.

While Jake Burton created the origins of snowboarding, the pursuit as an industry, a profession and a lifestyle owes Craig Kelly a profound debt.

The director of Let It Ride, Jaques Russo, met Kelly in the late 1980s, when snowboarding was still in its infancy and Kelly was just beginning to ride. Kelly soon began to make an impact on the sport, amassing more than seven World Snowboard Championship titles. Million-dollar contracts and the X-games soon followed, but Kelly eventually dropped out, quitting the competitions to search the world’s mountains for big new lines. Russo maintained his contacts with the athlete, and spent over a decade filming him in such disparate places as India, Iran, Greenland, South America and Japan.

“Kelly was tremendously influential to riders during his competitive years,” said AFF producer Leslie Bahn. “But when, at the height of his ascendancy, he bowed out to pursue soul riding in the mountains, he evolved snowboarding even more.”

As Kelly’s dedication to big-mountain backcountry riding deepened, he became the first accredited mountain guide on a snowboard. “I think we are nature and we naturally fit in the scheme of nature,” Kelly said of the connection between himself and the mountains, “but we create our lives in such a way that [if] we start fighting nature, we fight the way of the universe.”

World Champion Craig Kelly at the height of his competitive years. Kelly quit competitions to ride in the mountains, and influenced snowboarding even more. He is the subject of the new film, Let It Ride, which will screen on Snow Night of the 2008 AFF.

On January 20, 2003, a massive avalanche near Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, took Kelly’s life, as well as the lives of six others.

After Kelly’s death, Russo compiled his footage from the preceding years–as well as footage from other filmmakers concerned with telling the story–and culled the best to create a film that is both a documentary on the history of the sport, and the story of one of its most influential participants. Interviews featuring snowboarding legends Burton, Tom Sims, Jason Ford, Keith “DuckBoy” Wallace, Tex Davenport and Dan Donnely span nearly twenty-five years. Fantastic footage of the sport document its early history, the rise of Kelly to the top and his worldwide search for knowledge and understanding through snowboarding.

Let it Ride is a funny, exhilarating, powerful, and tragic story of snowboarding’s most influential and intriguing rider,” said AFF director Christian Beckwith. “Kelly’s evolution from competition to soul riding had a profound effect on snowboarding’s development. The film captures the parallel evolution of a lifestyle and its icon.”

A rough cut of Let it Ride won Best Film at both the Whistler and the X-Dance film festivals (it also won best soundtrack at the latter). The Alpinist Film Festival screening will be the first of the finished film.

The 2008 Alpinist Film Festival will feature its signature Snow, Surf and Stone nights January 17-19 at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, Wyoming. A fourth evening, The People’s Choice Ceremonies, will present the People’s Choice award-winning films from the previous three evenings at the Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson. As an official entry into the AFF, Let It Ride will be in contention for the People’s Choice Awards, the winners of which will be shown January 20 at the People’s Choice Ceremonies in Jackson Hole. Winners of the individual evenings receive a gift certificate from Patagonia worth $750. The Grand Prize winner receives an additional gift certificate worth $1,500.

Tickets for The 2008 Alpinist Film Festival are $18 for the Snow, Surf and Stone nights and $20 for the People’s Choice Ceremonies. Tickets and additional information can be found online at To date, every event in The Alpinist Film Festival’s three-year history has sold out.

About The Alpinist Film Festival

The Alpinist Film Festival celebrates the adventure lifestyle across disciplines and generations with three nights of film in skiing, surfing and climbing. The Festival’s mission is to advance the art of cinematographic storytelling as it underscores the unity among the adventure lifestyle communities. A portion of every year’s proceeds are donated to charities that help preserve the places of our inspiration. Because one of these places is our planet, beginning in 2008, the Festival will purchase carbon offsets to counteract its carbon footprint.

About Alpinist Magazine

Hailed by Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner as “The best climbing magazine in the world today,” Alpinist Magazine is an archival-quality, quarterly publication dedicated to world alpinism and adventure climbing. The pages of Alpinist capture the art of ascent in its most powerful manifestations, presenting an articulation of climbing and its lifestyle that matches the intensity of the pursuit itself. Alpinist has been awarded three Maggie Awards, for Best Quarterly/Consumer Division, Best Overall Design, and Best Electronic Newsletter, and was featured in a seven-page article in Outside Magazine (“The Purists”) in March 2005. The magazine’s editorial and publishing offices are based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and online at