TOTAL SNOW JOB: In the wide world of sports personalities, snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter truly carved his own path.
Now nearly two years after his death at the age of 65, Burton’s life and career are the subject of an HBO Sports documentary. “Dear Rider” will first air on Nov. 9 via HBO and also through streaming on HBO Max. The flick is from Red Bull Media House and Emmy-winning director Fernando Villena. A Burton spokeswoman deferred an interview request Wednesday with Villena until later this month.
Three years after the creation of the “Snurfer,” the precursor to the snowboard, Burton crafted his first snowboard in 1977 as a more affordable option (and presumably less cumbersome sporting good) than skiing. He lobbied ski resorts, sponsors and world-class athletes to take up what the media referred to as “the worst new sport.”
His efforts helped to catapult snowboarding onto the international stage, with the sport first becoming an Olympic sport at the Games in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Four years later at the Salt Lake City Olympics, giant slalom and half pipe competitions were added and Burton was on hand to watch some of his sponsored athletes medal. Not your typical corporate executive, Burton instated a bring-your-dog-to-work policy and after heavy snowfalls, employees were encouraged to get outdoors to ride.
A few Burton-loving Olympians and standouts like Shaun White (aka “The Flying Tomato,”) Kelly Clark and Mark McMorris make cameos in the upcoming documentary. Archival material and home movies are also woven into “Dear Rider.” Actor Woody Harrelson, who was a close friend of Burton’s, narrates certain passages in the film. Burton’s battles with cancer and Miller Fisher syndrome, a rare nerve disorder, will also be examined in the documentary. With his wife Donna Carpenter overseeing the family-owned company, Burton continues to welcome newcomers and foster growth in the snowboarding community.