The average viewer may not realize that there is a time-honored formula to the sequence of the segments which make up a part-based snowboarding film. The strongest parts bookend the timeline as the films creators want to draw people in from the moment they hit play with the opener, and then provide a big finish with the ender. But, if the opener doesn’t satisfy the audience right out of the gate then they may not even stay tuned all the way until the credits start to roll.
Elena Hight’s exploits this past spring in the last frontier earned her the first part, i.e. the opener, of the ARK film. In a roster full of new-age snowboarding icons, including Danny Davis, Mark McMorris, Gigi Rüf, Mikey Rencz, and beyond, each with more time in front of the cameras than most riders have spent strapped in, this achievement is notable on its own, yet this feat becomes even more noteworthy given the fact that Elena Hight is a woman.
On the screen, the formidable Alaskan alpine jaggedly rising several thousands of feet into the northern sky, provides a consequence-filled chasm for Elena to drop into. This part is unflinching and there is no post-production magic at play to massage any imperfections. What you see is what you get and that is a rider charging non-stop, calculated, maintaining speed, taking air mid-line, and keeping the rhythm of the run in balance with every slash, ollie, and schuss. A few thousand vertical feet later, the slough settles, and without a pause, Elena rides it out into the valley.
The statement that Elena has made with her performance in the ARK film is just the latest peak in a two-decade career defined by finding success doing what hasn’t been done before. Just as she did when pioneering tricks in the pipe, Elena is taking her innate ethic into the backcountry and with each descent she is ever more ascendant.
Despite being only 32 years old, Elena Hight has already created a rich legacy via halfpipe competitions, and it is one that many other riders would be content to walk away with. Yet other riders aren’t Elena Hight—and similar to the lines she tackles in the ARK film, when it comes to snowboarding, Elena is in it for the long run.