Words by Jeff Schmuck

Photos by Matt Stauble (http://www.mattstaublephoto.com)

The third annual International Freeski Film Festival kicked off with a bang last night in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As hoards of skiers stampeded into town for the wildest weekend in skiing, the stage was set for another memorable edition of IF3, and if the first night of the biggest and best ski film festival in the world was any indication, we're set for one hell of a ride over the next two days.

The long list of the festival's festivities kicked off with the World Premiere of Transitions at the first of two North Face Outdoor Screenings. Held in the picturesque and historic Old Port of Montreal, North Face, Red Bull, SBC Skier and Coors Light stepped things up hard with a truly unique venue and premiere which was free to the public and people will undoubtedly be talking about for a long time to come. Bleachers and a giant screen were built, beer and Red Bull tents were erected, and an electric time was had by all.

As the pre-show music faded out and the smooth, sultry and familiar voice of Luke Van Valin began oozing out of the giant speakers, it was officially go time. LVV introduced the man of the evening, Simon Dumont, who hyped up the crowd for the film that his best friend Riley Poor has continuously labored on for the past two years after all the challenges he's been through. Luke then read a heartfelt and moving note from Riley himself, who was unable to make it, before Dumont, decked out in an old-fashioned suit, introduced the first of 19 films that will be shown over the course of the weekend.

And what a film it was. Most everyone in attendance was expecting two years of ski porn of Simon and friends, but what Riley put together was so different and so much more than that. The film poignantly documented the history of freeskiing better than any of its predecessors, beginning with a nostalgic, timeless and bang-on segment about the origins of the sport with the iconic Mike Douglas fittingly narrating. From there, it went into Simon's upbringing where his wonderful mother Barbara explained her son's competitive streak from a young age, to his rise to the top of the sport as told by Poor Boyz' Johnny Decesare. The film them delved deep into history of halfpipe skiing and the Simon vs Tanner saga, where both legends discuss their rivalry, and how the media portrayed it versus their actual competitive and camaraderie-laced relationship. The two then talk about what's happened to the sport, the roles they've played in it, and where they see it going next. To say Riley's masterpiece was just that would likely be an understatement, as Transitions is a film that could be shown to anyone, anywhere, whether they ski or not, and help them understand the sport of freeskiing and it's already rich history like never before. In short, it's the only film of it's kind, and is poised to do great things for our sport. Much respect to Simon and Riley for putting it all together.

After the film wowed the capacity crowd, it was party time (of course), as everyone convoyed to La Mouche for the NSX Party, where as well as I can remember, many old friends were reunited, many a bottles were consumed, and many a good times were had. The two main highlights of the party, aside from the obvious full-speed celebration of the 10th anniversary of Newschoolers, were the World Premiere of Voleurz' amazing new film, Outdoor Graduation (which you're going to have to see to believe...especially the intro), and a tandem DJ set from the founder of NS, Matt Harvey, and our long-time head honcho, Doug Bishop, who were straight up rocking the house until the incomparable DJ A-Rock took over for the remainder of the evening.

From there, the night descended into an inevitable blur (or to be more precise, the black zone), before everyone stumbled back to the beautiful Montreal Hilton, our swanky accommodation for the weekend.

Things really get going today at 3:30pm at the historic Cinema Imperial as eight premieres will be shown to the masses (which will be closed out by Level 1 Production's highly anticipated new film Refresh), followed by what will surely be another memorable night courtesy of the good people at Reebok, who are presenting the Reebok Classics Party at Telus Theatre at 9:30pm, which will feature performances by Imposs, Rahzel featuring DJ JS-1, and the legendary DJ Premier...

If you're in Montreal, see you later today at the Cinema Imperial, otherwise stay tuned to NS for more photos from last night and daily coverage on the third annual International Freeski Film Festival.