Brand Snowboarding: Glory


Our guest blogger Hamish Duncan (@hambourine) ponders what the relentless march of snowboarding progression means to the public looking in, and whether it is at the expense of personal style and expression

This year’s Freeze was yet more proof that snowboarding has come a long, long way since the first ever London big air extravaganza in 1995. Back then, the likes of David Vincent and Jamie Lynn put down frontside 5s to a bemused Covent Garden crowd. Today, everything about snowboarding has advanced, with the technicality of the tricks, the overall presentation of the competition, prize money and sheer number of spectators testament to the strides in popularity snowboarding has made in just fifteen short years.

Even practise showcased just how big the level is these days, with most most riders locking straight into 9s before upping it with 10s, 12s and the-now standard double corks.

As an ex-rider, trick development is moving at a ruthless pace. One year you’re seeing double corks, the next it may be triple. But how sustainable is all this? Will we soon start to see quadruple corks? And what does mean for a key component of snowboarding personality: style, grace and personal expression?

To the untrained eye, represented by the vast public crowds watching the event, it must all be very confusing: a lot of spinning and people going upside down with a twist.  But the question that keeps recurring in my mind is this: what are they taking away with them? What does snowboarding mean to them, and what are we doing to ensure they get the best representation?

At this point, it’s good to remember another side of snowboarding and what got you stoked on riding in the first place. Everybody remembers his or her first snowboard video. That whirring black screen, the tinny audio as the opener showcasing all the bangers kicks in. Your favourite section that you anticipate even before it begins. A certain trick that gives you goose bumps for the sheer style and glory of its execution. Maybe I’m going too far. But there was something you took away that meant more than a prize cheque, more than just a medal.

This is a time when our sport is entering a new era. Snowboarding version 2.0. Or maybe it’s already Snowboarding 3.0. But to my mind, we still haven’t defined what the legacy of our sport to the outside world will really be, and what spectators at the likes of Freeze will take away with them. Are we a sport based on the advancement of tricks to stratospheric levels? Are we creating performance machines based upon a narrow-minded judging system? But more importantly, why are we unique from other sports?

Maybe one day we’ll see the inclusion of a style statement heat, giving the riders a chance to showcase a trick under a 540º rotation that says everything about your character. A super-sized no-grab backside 1 or a floated switch backside 5, tweaked to within an inch of it’s life. Something that sums up what snowboarding is in a competitive environment. Perhaps we have to lose our identity to remember exactly what we need to showcase. The glory, magnificence and great beauty of what snowboarding can be.

Thanks to @Scott_McMorris for inspiring this post with a conversation we had at Freeze.

This entry was written by matt , posted on Thursday November 03 2011at 10:11 am , filed under Contests, snowboarding and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “Brand Snowboarding: Glory”

  • Nathan says:

    Nice article. God it’s a good photo to use for it to!

  • snowboards says:

    Great article. I love the photo. Amazing!

  • Harry says:

    Très bien Hamish.

    Something I’ve been thinking for a while…how do we ensure the roots and essence of snowboarding aren’t forgotten with all the triple corks?

    It does seem like there is a pretty definite line drawn between competition riding and that of the back country.
    I guess it’s back to the surfing mindset: comparing the deep powder to the waves, the back country itself to the ocean and needing to get away from the pistes, pipes and parks to feel completely at one with the mountain.

    I think you’re right, for the untrained eye, a double cork, triple cork…whatever, looks messy, and like a whole lot of spinning upside down topsy turvies.
    The Art of Flight slows it all right down, and then you can see the true style and grace the pros spin with. Everything tucked and grabbed perfectly. But then fast forward to the section where Scotty Lego ruins himself, where they show the crash in real time and it looks a mess!
    Maybe it’ll be competitions like X Games’ best Method comp that’ll keep Joe Public interested in the style and grace.

    I think there is two parts to our ‘sport’. There’s the part that has the narrow minded judging system which is evolving at a million miles an hour, where it’s a quantitative means of appreciation. And then you get the passion side of it. But I don’t think this can be taken away from the pipe and slopestyle riders and awarded completely towards the BC, non competitive riders.

    I think snowboarding is all about attitude and passion. This can be shown by Travis Rice jumping from a heli onto a steep face, it can be shown by the likes of Halldor Helgason spinning his ‘Lobster Flip’ over a man made booter, or it can be shown by someone landing their first frontside one.

    I think our legacy has got to be: passion, fun and friends. Isn’t that how it all started out?

    Personally I don’t think you can beat a huge, late back 1.

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