Watch this windsurfer ride down a snowy mountain

For Levi Siver, there’s more in common between mountains and ocean than you could imagine.
By Go Takagishi

Snowy mountain windsurfing. There was only one man willing to take on this unprecedented challenge. His name – Levi Siver. Siver is a professional windsurfer known for catching the biggest waves all over the world, bending the wind to his will.

As you probably know, windsurfing is exactly what it sounds like. It's a sport in which the surfer rides a board equipped with a sail and uses the force (lift) of the wind to move over the water. Why would anyone do this on a snow-covered mountain? Of course, this was to be the first attempt in the world.

Levi Siver poses for a portrait at Mount Rishiri in Hokkaido, Japan on March 10, 2017
Big wave (and big mountain) windsurfer, Levi Siver © Jason Halayko/Red Bull Content Pool

“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. I’m always trying to find ways to challenge myself, but this project really sparked my curiosity. What would happen if I were to combine snowboarding and windsurfing? After all, I've enjoyed both of these sports for a really long time”, explains Siver.

It had been five years since Levi came up with the idea, but the day finally came for the vision to become a reality. Shooting took a total of 20 days. Taking into account the planning and filming prep time, total production took eight months. But in the end, was it actually possible to windsurf on a snowy mountain? We found that it was possible. Actually... we MADE it possible.

Levi Siver is seen prior testing his windsurfing powder board at Mount Rishiri in Hokkaido, Japan on March 11, 2017
Levi, taking a good look at his newest challenge © Jason Halayko/Red Bull Content Pool

"I wanted to be the first person to try alpine windsurfing on a finned board. Using a snowboard would actually be optimum for performance, but I really wanted to recreate that unique sensation of windsurfing and to do that I need to make a board somewhere in between a snowboard and windsurfing board”, tells Levi. As you can see, this project and challenge was successful because of Levi’s own research efforts and the board he developed.

Keith Taboul and Levi Siver are seen working on a windsurfing powder board at Rishiri Island in Hokkaido, Japan on December 28, 2016
Keith Taboul and Levi Siver working on the board © Karim Iliya/Red Bull Content Pool

“The board has the rail and fin you need for surfing and there are no bindings. It has straps and its ridden with surf boots so on the drop in you get the same feeling as when you’re windsurfing. But you’re looking down on a mountain, not the ocean. I got this exhilarating feeling that I can’t even really describe”

Take a look at what happened behind the scenes

“The strongest wind I caught was about 15kph [9.3mph],” Levi was all smiles in the interview, but the filming conditions were harsh. The days started with a two-hour hike up a mountain with temperature lows of -13℃. After that, shooting took an average of seven hours each day. Sometimes Levi and the crew would wait at the summit for up to three hours to make sure they caught the perfect winds.

The location for the shoot was Rishiri Island in Hokkaido. It may be surprising that this extraordinary mountain ride took place on an island off the shore of the northern tip of Japan, but this distinctive terrain, where you can look down on the ocean while riding down the mountain, was perfect for this project.

"What mountains and the ocean have in common is their unpredictability. The scenery is truly beautiful, but also extremely dangerous and the conditions change every day. Every day is a brand-new adventure. But on the other hand, since each ride is a new challenge, there's this added challenging of conquering your own fear, which really helps you grow as a person.”

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