What do snowy mountains and windsurfing have in common? More than you might think! Freestyle windsurfer Levi Siver has pushed the boundaries of the sport, taking his finned board up on the snow-covered mountains on the Rishiri Island in Japan and surfing his way down. Through his heroic feat, he became the first person to ever try alpine windsurfing.
Windsurfing is a watersport that has been receiving a lot of attention these past decades. Its name is pretty suggestive – combining elements of surfing and sailing, a surfboard is equipped with a sail and uses the power of the wind to move over the water. But why would you ever try it on a snow-covered mountain? In Levi’s own words, “What mountains and the ocean have in common is their unpredictability. The scenery is truly beautiful, but also extremely dangerous and the conditions change everyday.” One fine day, he came up with the idea of applying the elements of windsurfing up on the mountains. Pretty darn crazy, some may think...
The Stream Mountain Project
Photo credit Jason Halayko Red Bull Content Pool
Apparently, windsurfing athlete Levi Siver has been thinking about riding down a snowy mountain for quite some time. He came up with the idea some five years ago and wasn’t until March 2017 that he finally saw his dream come true.
“The idea for this project stemmed from the vision that we could transfer the elements of windsurfing onto a mountain and create the same exhilarating experience the surfer gets on the water,” Levi Siver told RedBull. Rishiri Island in Hokkaido, off the shore of the northern tip of Japan, offers a unique terrain – you can actually look down at the ocean from the steep snowy slopes. It provided the perfect backdrop, with the ocean and the snow-covered mountain blending into one.
Levi Siver spent 20 days filming on the mountain. However, the total time spent on the production was around eight months (including preparation, planning, editing, etc.). During those 20 days, the crew would hike for two hours in below-freezing temperatures, and spent an average of seven hours a day shooting.
Photo credit RedBull
Sometimes, Levi and the crew would have to wait up on the mountain for up to three hours for the wind to pick up. Also, the crew spent a lot of time picking the right peaks, spots, snow and wind conditions. Since it was the first time anyone tried something like this, figuring out the optimal conditions proved to be quite a challenge. It took a lot or experimenting and learning by trial and error.
Optimal weather conditions were not enough. To pull this one off, Levi needed a board specifically designed for this task. Keith Teboul was the person behind the board, shaping a hybrid that is somewhere in between a surfboard and a snowboard, with surfing rails, fins and foot straps, but no bindings.
Athlete spotlight: Levi Siver
Elite windsurfer Levi Siver is known for his mastery of huge waves all around the globe. Born in landlocked Idaho, he took up skiing and snowboarding as a kid, while his parents nurtured his love for windsurfing. When he was 11, he and his family moved to Maui, thus paving his path to windsurfing stardom.
Photo credit Levi Siver
Levi began competing in junior windsurfing contests right away. With many wins under his belt, his true passion remained freestyle windsurfing. Fast-forward to 2007, he produced The Windsurfing Movie by Poor Boyz Production, hailed as the defining film about windsurfing. In 2010, the follow-up was released, The Windsurfing Movie II. These are the biggest windsurfing movies ever made.
Pushing windsurfing to the limit, Haiku remains Levi’s hometown and he does not intend to leave Hawaii anytime soon. To him, the islands and their surf are the very definition of paradise.
*Cover photo credit: RedBull
Before taking up windsurfing on snow-covered peaks, why not polish your surfing skills in the ocean waves? Go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose among hundreds of surf camps worldwide.