Basich boards to Sundance

'Open Spaces' documentary to air at film festival
By: Marci Seither
-A +A
A documentary about professional snowboarder and custom snowboard designer Mike Basich will be aired during the prestigious Sundance Film Festival later this month. “This is the untold story of how I got to where I am today after 20 years of professional snowboarding,” said the Colfax resident as he stands in the shop where he builds his custom snowboards. “It was hard to pick out the points of my life that mattered most. I wasn’t sure how public I wanted it to be. I never imagined when we started, where it would end up.” That’s the message Basich conveys in the documentary, “Open Spaces,” one of 33 films selected to air during the Sundance Film Festival. Basich and his friend, Dalton Paley, spent six months creating the film that captures the high profile athlete’s career and life. After countless hours of digging through boxes of race bibs, magazines and video clips, filming an additional 1,000 hours of footage, Basich and Paley put together the 37-minute film nominated for viewing during the prestigious festival in Utah. The opening scene is a carefully recreated moment where the doctor hands then 9-year-old Basich a pill and tells him he has epilepsy. “It was the love of my parents and sister that gave me strength and comfort,” recalled Basich, adding the people who meant the most in his life had a hand in the film’s development. “I knew I was different and viewed things differently, but that didn’t stop my parents from helping me explore all the things I could do,” he continued. “I knew at a young age I wanted to build things. It was how I connected to the world and made sense of my surroundings.” Four years after the diagnosis, the Fair Oaks native took a spin on his first snowboard. “The conditions were terrible. We rented boards and drove to Soda Springs where we had to walk up the mountain with our moon boots because they wouldn’t let us on the chair lifts,” he said. “By the time we got to the bottom of the hill, we were hooked.” In 1987 Basich, who was home-schooled at the time, was told he no longer had epilepsy. “One thing I knew was that snowboarding was more than a sport for me, it was part of my life,” he said. Both Basich and his older sister, Tina, eventually became sponsored snowboarders and competed on the international circuit as well as at the X-Games. “Snowboarding offered me a lot of opportunities, such as travel and learning about other cultures,” he said. “As soon as I started competing I participated in everything I was invited to.” Then his life started getting crazy. “My sister Tina and I were at the X-Games and I started to question if the fast paced and demanding competition was what I really wanted,” he said. “The sport had gone from individual expression and without rules, to a highly competitive and regulated sport. The next day we both retired.” When he left the professional circuit, Basich started his own business making clothing and eventually pro-model snowboards. “I learned to silk screen the summer I graduated from high school in 1990 and built a screen press with old door hinges and two by fours,” Basich said. “In 1992 after I had done well in the World Cup, I got a call from a Japanese company with an order for 300 shirts. That launched my 241clothing company.” Designing pro-model boards and encouraging others to become ecologically conservative became Basich’s focus. His brand of Smokin’ Snowboards are custom built to fit each riders size and riding style. “Open Spaces” was more than just amazing footage of carving down the steep faces of mountains covered in pristine powder. It is about the importance of staying true to your heart and following your passion. “Now that all this is done, I hope to show the film at schools and talk to school age students about what it means to define success,” concluded Basich. “Close your eyes and ask yourself, where is it that you feel the most alive.” To watch “Open Spaces,” visit Basich’s Web site: