Snowboarders can do backflips over `First Descent' documentary

Review B-


When it can keep itself from babbling on and on about its subject's importance, First Descent can be a sight for sore eyes. It's way past time for snowboarding to get the kind of sustained big-screen appreciation that surfing and rollerblading have received in recent years. And since most of us have other things to pay attention to besides adrenaline sports, a documentary like First Descent can help fill us in on what we've missed.

In fact, there's so much intriguing information about the way snowboarding morphed in the past 40 years from outlaw avocation to Olympic competition that you sometimes wish the movie would jettison its central narrative thread: a visit to Alaska's upper reaches by five upper-echelon snowboarders who want to test their skills down the steepest, most treacherous mountainsides.

First Descent (Universal) Starring Shawn Farmer, Terje Haakonsen and Hannah Teter. Directed by Kemp Curley and Kevin Harrison. Rated PG-13. Time 110 minutes.

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