We who choose to slide sideways down a mountain have endured clichéd jabs for years: “How many snowboarders does it take to change a light bulb? One to hold it, one to film it, and the other to say, SICK BRO!” Possibly “endured” isn’t accurate for all as I never identified with the pants-on-the-ground stereotype. The irony now is that I’m well into my 22nd season riding a snowboard-after growing up on skis as a kid-and I feel I’m starting to tow the anti-knuckle dragger line.
Snowboarding is finally old enough to a claim a growing demographic of people over the age of 30 and it makes me wonder just how many people have reached the same conclusion: We don’t identify with the general vibe and attitude coming out of our sport from the “chitlens” out there on the mountain.
Does this mean that, (gasp!) we are drifting back towards the more established, conservative dogma that skiing has always represented to us? A dogma that pushed us to run from skiing in the first place? More often than not I feel no kinship with the current crop of folks strapping into their bindings sporting the current “next big thing” accoutrements which tends to be a mix of plumbers crack, saggy pants paired with some other absurdly large jacket or hoody that, while they may look at home in the advertisement rich, Cosmo sized snowboard mags, don’t seem to cut it when its cold and snowing sideways in your face.
I rode up the chairlift the other day with a kid sporting a pair of 6 finger gloves that one of the cool kid companies has come out with. He pointed out the extra digit to me, stiffly pointed out like rigor mortis. “Pretty cool huh” he snickered. Umm…”no not really.”
So what to make of all this? Am I just turning into another curmudgeonly, old timer of the sport? One who has seen the sun set on his youthful excesses and now just wants to rant about how the good old days used to be? I’ll be the first to admit that snowboarding has progressed exponentially since I borrowed my buddies Burton Elite 160 and gave it a go in the Spring of 1988. Stuff is getting thrown down these days that not only blows minds but also, knees, shoulders and necks. It’s the real deal and it can put you in the hospital or worse if you come up short. Its rad. Its progressive. I get that.
But why does all the other crap that doesn’t matter have to come along for the ride? Do we need all of that to make our sport cool? Shouldn’t the riding just speak for itself? Something to think about the next time you consider throwing down cash for a pair of six fingered gloves.
-Shralp(Snowrider Project volunteer)