A feature documentary on legendary snowboarding pioneer and innovator Jake Burton Carpenter is coming to HBO November 9. Dear Rider is a Red Bull Media House production, and it’s directed by Fernando Villena, whose previous directorial credits include Any One Of Us (an excellent look at famed mountain biker Paul Basagoitia’s 2015 spinal cord injury and recovery journey) and Giving Voice (a documentary on the annual August Wilson Monologue competition that gives high schoolers an opportunity to perform on Broadway). Dear Rider will premiere on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/PT on November 9, and will also be available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s more on what to expect from a release:
The intimate and revealing documentary features interviews with Jake’s family, friends, and fellow snowboarders, including action sports icons Mark McMorris, Shaun White, and Kelly Clark, as well as a wealth of archival material and home movies. DEAR RIDER pays homage to Jake’s beloved and loyal “riders,” the audience he faithfully addressed every year for decades on the first page of his snowboard company’s catalogs. Acclaimed actor Woody Harrelson, a close friend of Jake’s, narrates catalog passages interspersed throughout the film.
Inspired by the Snurfer, a surfboard-inspired strip of wood, Jake created his first snowboard in 1977 as an inexpensive alternative to skiing. From there, he developed increasingly versatile boards while encouraging ski resorts, sponsors, and world-class athletes to take up what the media dubbed “the worst new sport.” By the late 1990s, Jake’s vision had catapulted the punk-infused culture of snowboarding into the mainstream and onto the world stage—the Olympics.
But as Jake and his eponymous company, Burton, thrived in the new century, the entrepreneur battled two very serious health problems: Miller Fisher Syndrome, a rare nerve disorder, as well as cancer, which ultimately claimed his life in 2019. Today, Jake’s memory lives on throughout the snowboarding community, and his wife Donna Carpenter remains at the helm of the family-owned business.
There’s quite the story to be told around Burton Carpenter, the company he built, the impact he had on growing snowboarding, and the health challenges he faced in later years. And Villena’s past work, particularly Any One Of Us, shows he has experience in telling strong stories about the extreme sports world. The interview list is also great, and it’s cool that Harrelson signed on to narrate this. For anyone at all interested in the snowboarding world, this is going to be one worth keeping an eye out for.