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From shelters to snowboards: San Diego native’s life story told in upcoming film

ENCINITAS — Adversity, redemption, passion and support. These are the pillars that define San Diego native Ryan Hudson’s life.

The professional snowboarder’s journey from homelessness to the top of his sport is laid forth in the upcoming film, “Mountain Revelations.” The film premieres Oct. 27 at the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.

“Snowboarding was the first thing that called to me to live a life that was better,” said Hudson in a phone interview from his home in Salt Lake City. “I decided I wanted to make it a part of my life. The only reason I have a story to tell is snowboarding.”

The film follows Hudson and fellow pro-snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Rafael Pease on a “human-powered” 10-day mission in a remote corner of Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range.

Amid the beyond-breathtaking mountainous terrain, they examine how their varied backgrounds shaped their lives and brought them to snowboarding. Hudson has anything but a typical story.

The Chugach Mountain Range in southern Alaska dwarfs professional snowboarder Ryan Hudson, who stars in “Mountain Revelations.” The film, which premiers Oct. 27 at La Paloma Theatre, follows three snowboarders as they explore how their varied backgrounds led them to the sport. Courtesy photo
The Chugach Mountain Range in southern Alaska dwarfs professional snowboarder Ryan Hudson, who stars in “Mountain Revelations.” The film, which premiers Oct. 27 at La Paloma Theatre, follows three snowboarders as they explore how their varied backgrounds led them to the sport. Photo by Eric Henderson

The 33-year-old African American athlete spent much of his formative years in downtown San Diego’s Father Joe’s Villages for homeless families.

“Early on, we were a pretty struggling family,” said Hudson, the youngest of five siblings. “We bounced in and out of shelters.”

After high school graduation, he transitioned to housing for homeless young adults and connected with Outdoor Outreach. The nonprofit provides kids who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn how to surf, ski, rock climb, snowboard, hike and bike.

Still, Hudson said, “I didn’t prioritize. I ignored my responsibilities. The program kicked me out so I was out on the streets again on my own. One day I hit rock bottom and realized I could do so much more with my life. I turned to the director of Outdoor Outreach and asked him to help me. I realized I loved the outdoors and snowboarding. He encouraged me to get a job in Utah ski lodge.”

Hudson followed the advice.

“(The director) bought me a plane ticket, got me a job and gave me $100 in cash,” Hudson told The Coast News. “On November 7, 2008, I flew out of San Diego. I had just turned 20.”

By night Hudson washed dishes; by day, he was on the slopes.

“It was a good place for me to be in my thoughts,” Hudson said. “The night job (meant) I could snowboard in the day. I could dive into the culture.”

It was through Jones, an internationally acclaimed snowboarder and climate activist, that Hudson had the opportunity to be a part of “Mountain Revelations.”

“You rarely see people like me of color on snowboards,” Hudson said. “There has been a long history of lack of representation. What we are touching on in the film is the experience I’ve had because of the history of people not being accepting (of people of color).”

The process of filming with the three snowboarders and five crew was arduous, he explained.

“Every other day we were out hiking and climbing,” Hudson said. “We carried tons of food and tons of gear. The crew is just as great athletes as we are.”

The film’s extraordinary cinematography often provides viewers with a bird’s-eye view of the rugged, glacial landscape that dwarfs the trio who seem to have no fear.

“Overall, this trip was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in the mountains,” Hudson said. “The mountains are so massive and majestic. The emotions that I went through were like a roller coaster. I experienced a lot of personal internal growth, and to be out there with the most amazing mentor (Jones). We come from different worlds but…we stand at the top of the same mountain.”