Part 1. Start at the Begending
Check those dates on your iFones and GoogMobiles. You see what I’m seeing? We’ve got March 15 over here. It’s not even St. Patrick’s Day and the shred season is done-zo for the locs. I went to Tyrone’s Closer and it was chaos. Like that place is never going to open again. Ski dads looting the liquor racks. Ski moms flashing boobs. Ski kids doing tip grabs, or whatever ski kids do.
In many ways I feel like this was the ender this year deserved. The local scene never really kicked off (I was still playing jogs in shorts at Christmas time) this year, so why should winter get to bang the gong on the way out the door. It was an entire season of “snowboarding being dead” and all of us still out here were just dragging a lifeless corpse down the slopes, Weekend At Bernie’s style.
But now we’ve made it to the base area, the lifts have stopped, the season is over. We can cast off that carcass, spend the summer riding bikes or skateboards, and start fresh next year. Because, for those of us in the midwest, we have no choice but to plan to begin again. We have to stand on top of Hyland or Troll, Spirit Mountain or Tyrol Basin and look west. You can ignore the high water mark–the Olympics, Shaun White at the X-Games, the mega movies, Shaun White not at the X-Games. That mark is just the tub stain. Look harder to see the fall line, find the escape route below the slab that has broken loose, and spot the line that saves us from this avalanche.
Then, if it matters to you at all, get in your car and head west. It’s Miracle March. You can meet me in Vail or Jackson.
Part 2. Reentering the Dragon
The issue of snowboarding’s shrinking market was brought back into the foreground when I shoehorned myself into this twitter conversation between Matt Barr and Rian Rhoe (look at that thread and think, one of these characters does not belong) regarding the NY Times piece about the snowboarding scene.
These kind of pieces come up every so often and the industry shouts it down, but rarely is it actually engaged. It’s so uncommon to actually hear someone on the inside say “Yes there is a real problem, I don’t know what is going to solve it. But I can assume it’s not this all new rocker-camber-camber-rocker-scoop-a-loop design, nor this step-in binding system.” Transworld Business actually gave 30 people a platform to openly address this issue. And, for the most part is was self-serving or blame pushing. Jake Burton talking about how their new tech will save snowboarding, while Donna says it’s getting women involved that will save snowboarding. The dudes from never summer, who produce long boards, demand more core shops, while the guys from the shops demand more vendor support. I personally feel Peter Line, Kevin Casillo from Vans, Josh Reid from Rome and Brad Stewart were the only ones going in the right direction–making it about culture.
You want to make snowboarding something I can’t wait to get out and do. You’ve got to keep people hyped. It’s people being out there with friends, riding new places or the same places they started riding together seasons or decades earlier. Or maybe it’s about the soloist mentality, “I made it up this mountain on my own. This is my church and everyday is the sabbath”. It’s not about technology, though that can make it easier. And it’s not about brands, though they can become synonymous with those times. It’s about knowing there is nothing better than getting closer to the perfect carve, and no matter how many times you’ve ridden one spot, the snow might be deeper this time. Landscape changes, trees and forests grow and are cut back, meteorologist can be wrong and discovering all of these things are better when you can ride a snowboard.
It’s on brands to hype the riders and the shops, and it’s on the shops to do it for the brands and the riders And if the riders can get out and find those moments they’ll hold on to forever, the shop and brands that support those moments will be there.
Meanwhile, I’m going to wait to see what Rian has to say about it because her new writing technique is unstoppable.
Part 3: I Feel Like I Owe This To Me in 2000
I recently listened to The Avengers from Lif and Akrobatik. At one point Ak drops the line “Like tryin to charge a hundred grand for Bachelor’s degrees” and my first thought was “Huh, that actually seems like a pretty good price today.”
Part 4: Trivs
Free glasswear for playing pub trivia is always nice.