By Geoff Ledford

On Thursday, September 5 in a stuffy room atop the San Diego convention center, the Wildcats premiered their new movie, Nine Lives, to a rambunctious crowd. And although it seemed a little strange to debut a snowboard film in the middle of a subtropical concrete jungle, the event went off without a hitch.

The riders and industry folk in attendance represented an impressive cross section of the snowboard community. Riders from around the globeólike Gaetan Chanut, Hana Beaman, Danny Kass, Scott Serfas, Wille Yli-Luoma, Paavo Tikkanen, Travis Parker, Andrew Crawford, Jordan Mendenhall, Max Jenke, David Benedek, Joni Malmi, Rob Dow, J-F Pelchat, Andreas Wiig, Kale Stephens, Chris Brown, Dionne Delesalle, Charlie Morace, Eddie Wall, Stephen Duke, Scotty Arnold, Scotty Wittlake, and Ehern McGehey (of Jackass fame)ómade it out to support the cause. The pre-film bro-down was typical of any industry eventóway too many dudes and not enough chicks, all huddled around a keg, fighting for another free beer. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to have a really good time.

Pencil in Paavo Tinkkanen for the most drunk Euro award. At 5:30 p.m., he was already stumbling and teetering around the back of the roomóand the movie hadn’t even started yet. To everyone’s great surprise, he was still on his feet at 11:00, after the Robot Food premier. Could this simply be Paavo’s unique way of cross training for better balance on a snowboard?

A few scantily clad DVS models (cleverly dressed in cat suits) did an obligatory product toss while Renee Renee tried to hype up the crowd. Donning a black and white checkered ball cap, a purple No Fear parka, multicolored Jamz pants, and a few ridiculously big gold chains, Renee Renee old-school freestyled like it was nobody’s business; definitely the fashion misfit of the evening. Watch out doo-rags and oversized denim outerwear, 80s steez could be making a comeback.

At about 6:00 p.m., the movie finally started rolling. Refreshingly, the scenery of the film couldn’t have been further from San Diego’s urban setting. Although Nine Lives does contain an ample amount of city rails, it focuses largely on the beautiful, powder-filled backcountry lines and kickers that riders dream about during the summer. The majority of the riding was sick (huge, fast spins and butter-into tricks), but top honors go to Gaetan Chanut; who absolutely slaughters everything in his segment; and Kale Stephens. Kale’s part gained momentum until he finally threw an enormous backside rodeo seven over a menacing step-up gap. While the crowd was still reeling from the size of his last feat, Kale then jumped over the same gap on his snowmobile. The rowdy (and now somewhat drunk) crowd erupted. What a champ.

Although the riding is high caliber, Nine Lives doesn’t fail to provide lots of humiliating (read: potentially career-ending) party footage. J-F Pelchat snowboards naked with a cape around his neck, Gaetan Chanut gets caught shaving his legs in a loin cloth, photographer Scott Serfas apparently has trouble sticking wacky suitcase methods, and there’s even a brief cameo by someone’s penis.

The crowd’s only complaints centered on Nine Lives’ wack soundtrack. One grom near the back of the room summed it all up nicely: “Techno sucks.” Thankfully, a few classic-rock songs (Van Halen’s “Panama”) made it bearable.

Criticism aside, the Wildcats know how to have a good time, and it translates well onto video; by the time people left, everyone was hyped for a night out. Props to the ‘Cats for an entertaining premiere.