Why Snowboarding Kicks the Sh*t out of Football

dcp about to scorpion
DCP launching into a spectacular rag-doll in Alaska

Snowboarders are hardcore. We all know that. You only have to watch the likes of Torstein Horgmo, Mark McMorris and Billy Morgan huck triple corks off 75 foot kickers, or Gigi Rüf and Nicolas Müller fly down near vertical precipices in the Alaskan backcountry, to see that these guys have way bigger balls than other sportspeople.

Take Wayne Rooney and his recent “head injury”, for example. Admittedly, it was a pretty nasty gash, but nothing a bit of glue or a few butterfly stitches wouldn’t fix. But that was Rooney out of not one, but two World Cup qualifier matches for England, and God knows how many training sessions. I’ve seen many snowboarders do a hell of a lot worse than that and carry on riding. Jesus, I’ve done a lot worse than that and carried on riding.

dcp after tumble
Or course, cos he’s hard as nails, he was fine afterwards. Just about…

If you throw yourself down mountains, metal rails and off kickers, strapped to a fibreglass board, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get hurt pretty badly at some point. I’ve had my fair share of nasty smashes on the mountain and have the scars, screws and plates to show for it. Have I ever rolled around in agony on the slope? Have I fuck. With the exception of when I broke my ankle and couldn’t stand on it, let alone ride, I’ve picked myself up after every injury and carried on riding, if only to the bottom of the mountain, in the desperate belief that I’m alright. And even if the injury puts me out of action for a few months, I’ll always be back on my board as soon as is physically possible.

But that’s nothing compared to the pros. Last season Halldór Helgason was injured and knocked unconscious when he over rotated on a triple backflip whilst competing in the X Games Big Air final. That type of accident would put most sportspeople out of action for a long time, but Halldór was back throwing crazy tricks within weeks. Anyone who’s seen his awesome part in Nike Snowboarding’s Never Not will notice that he’s even still wearing a neck brace for that insane backflip double roof gap.

Have I ever rolled around in agony on the slope like a footballer? Have I fuck.

Rome team rider, Scottish Will Smith broke his neck last season but still managed to get back on his board before the season was out and put together a pretty impressive season edit.

The majority of professional snowboarders compete year in year out with the kind of injuries that would put a footballer on the bench and many have broken more bones than there are players in a football team. Scotty Lago has broken 25 bones in the 19 years he’s been riding and is still ranks highly on the World Snowboard Tour.

This is why it drives me mad every time I see a footballer flailing around on the pitch after someone has tripped them up. I’m not saying there aren’t some bad injuries in football. Take Eduardo‘s mangled ankle – now that was a proper injury – but the majority of injury stoppages are for little more than some lame acting, or rather, acting lame.

ashley-young-diver2
Manchester United’s Ashley Young taking a trademark theatrical tumble.

A damaged Achilles tendon is enough to call time on many a footballer’s career. Just look at John Barnes or Mark Lawrenson. However, the type of injuries that end a snowboarding career are infinitely more serious.

As the new film The Crash Reel documents, Kevin Pearce suffered severe brain injury when he crashed while attempting a cab double cork during half pipe training in 2009. He was in a coma for six days and intensive care for almost three weeks before he was moved to a rehabilitation centre to start on the long road to recovery. Inevitably the accident ended his career, but he was determined to get back on the board, and miraculously, less than two years after the near fatal injury Pearce was riding again.

Dive Harder, Dive Hard 2 with Ashley Young-796633
Or as the Daily Mirror has it – playing a starring roll in Dive Hard 2: Dive Harder

Football and snowboarding are obviously very different sports and there are many external factors that influence a footballer’s actions and ultimately decide their fate, most of which boil down to money. As there’s relatively little money in snowboarding and it’s an individual sport, snowboarders are purely driven by their love of riding and determination to nail the next trick. They may make it look easy in finished edits and in competition, but when you seen the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get those shots or land those tricks (just check the outtakes from any snowboard movie) you can’t help but admire their resilience and tenacity.

But even with all those other factors, I can’t help thinking… Maybe footballers should learn a thing or two from snowboarders and man the fuck up?

Ever lost an arm and kept riding? How about cracked some ribs? Tell us about the best injury you’ve ever ridden through, and our favourite story will win a mug (as well as maximum lad points obviously)

  1. Si Dedman

    This is bullshit. Pro footballers dive and act injured in order to game the system to give their team an advantage.
    Football fans, especially English Premier League, know only too well that the sport’s governing body is a a joke, packed to the rafters with fat, lazy, overfed bureaucrats and cheats who show no interest in improving the game (sexism, racism, stupid rule fixing e.g. goal line technology, video replays, etc), which would address this embarasment.
    This sucks for the fans because we have to hear this dumb argument from other sports followers even though it’s of little importance to the sport in its entirety.

    Snowboarding isn’t comparable. You ride for yourself for the joy, or for yourself and your sponsors. The Crash Reel made the powerful point that injured pro snowboarders are pushed to risk their health by the money-men marketing the sport, and incentivised to repeat those injuries because this is the only thing they know how to do, it’s their whole lives, and their only source of money. Celebrating this – what I see as the first and worst real corruption of our beautiful passtime by Big Corporate – is thick.

    Football isn’t doing enough to protect players from serious injury… but it’s doing SOMETHING.
    And since when do snowboarders like us, who have so long been circlejerking about how we’re all about “it’s all for the love of the sport”, need articles trashing other people’s choice of entertainment?

  2. ged hawksworth

    Broke wrist on final run home in Morzine 2 km from end. Walked down the red run…packed, got transfer to airport for flight back to liverpool, plane delayed 4 hours due to snow and only enough money for a double brandy…plane delayed further hour on the runway in liverpool. Staff at the airport refused to help me with my 25k, 7ft long bag (I’m 5ft 5 and 9 stone)…went straight home to bed so I could see my son in the morning of his 2nd birthday. He accompanied me to hospital at 10am, 18 hours after snapping my arm. Rooney? Pah!

  3. Andy H

    Surely worth a mug. I was 15 riding in Soldeu, Andorra. Last run of the last but one day with an instructor, pacing down a run called ‘Duc’, it’s kind of like the contours of a buxom lady (up-down-up-down).

    Caught an edge, went flying onto my front, picked myself up, pretty dazed, walked over to my instructor and the rest of the group, said I was ok, tried strapping on my board, had a numbness all over the right side of my neck and face. The exact conversation went like this:

    Me: “I think I might have broken my collarbone”
    Instructor: “Nah, if you’d have broken that, you’d know about it”

    At this point I undid my jacket, to find my collarbone sticking through my skin. A trip in the medical sled, 2 injections and a lot of swearing later, I was fixed up, although I had a great time explaining to the airport security why I was wearing a back brace (this was March 2002, 6+ months after 9/11).

    Shoulder now permanently lopsided!

  4. Phil Taylor

    I once died twice in Slovakia, Still carried on riding!!

  5. Jess

    I love this article! Fully agree that footballers should step in the shoes of some of snowboarding greats and see what a real injury is like

  6. Tom

    A strange comparison, if any was really necessary. I get why a British snowboard magazine would want to compare the sport it covers against the country’s most popular sport, but it’s a lousy article. All that the author does is make direct comparisons between two completely different sports, athletes and cultures. Other than that, there’s no depth to the article. It’s such a one-sided, subjective piece of writing that doesn’t really offer any angles for the reader and in turn encourages readers to compare how many injuries they’ve had. Offer something insightful.

  7. Robbie

    I broke 2 ribs after catching a part buried winch cable in Andorra. Shit thing was I had 3 more days of CASI level 3 exams and training

  8. C Moore

    Second day in Les Arcs, wiped out fannying about on the groomers, fractured my left wrist. Slapped a wrist guard on, popped a couple of the Ibu-profs and continued to have one of the best holidays I’ve had for a long time. Attempted my first method at the end of that week, which is probably why I couldn’t quite grab the board. That or I’m just pants. See here: http://distilleryimage8.ak.instagram.com/8f061f003cf211e3a99f22000ab5bc02_8.jpg

  9. Cam

    I sprained my neck and carried on riding for a couple of days, didn’t realise it was serious when I did it, now my neck is prone to injury

  10. Christopher

    Me and my brother had probably the craziest day I broke my right arm and he broke one of his spine bone landed in the hospital in one room, and from then on everyone in the hospital knew about us that´s almost 2 years ago and we still snowboard and try to get better, I just recently bit my tongue when landing backwards…spit blood was pissed off my brother motivated me again and afterwords I landed the trick.

  11. Erica

    Two years ago: Second time ever riding on a mountain, first day of a week long freestyle course in Pila, first run, first 30 seconds of riding fell arse over tit and hurt my wrist. Took painkillers to keep riding for the rest of the week. Had to flip on to my toe side to stand up and get mates to help me put my glove on but that week I accomplished my first ever ollies, attempted 180′s and hit my first kickers even tho I fell over A LOT and hurt a lot EVERYWHERE.
    Went to the hospital at home 2 weeks later, found I’d fractured the top of my radius.

    Last year: bad landing in powder off a natural kicker in Avoriaz. Landed with all my weight on my leading arm, it bent out sideways, dislocated my elbow, split open the inner side of my arm and tore open my artery. Didn’t get the opportunity to be hardcore and continue riding as I got helicoptered off the mountain… But I didn’t yell, scream or cry, I just sat up and said “Ow” whilst the instructor replied “Really?”
    “Yup, really ow”

  12. Shaun McWhinnie

    Who said anything about preferring football? Comparing 2 sports that have FA similarity is a dumb exercise, and the article is straight trolling.

    “Leave the sport to the big boys?” “Gaper?” Have you come straight from the YoBeat comments section? Link your profile and stop being a pussy.

    1. Dan

      Shaun, if you’d had an attention span even approaching that of the average fairground gold fish you’d have read to the end of the article and noticed that such a point was conceded about the disparities between the two sports.
      Had you rubbed your two brain cells together you may also have realized that the comparison merely served to outline the different attitudes that exist within the sports, rather than simply pit them against one another.
      I suggest you quit “straight trolling”.

  13. Nick T

    Back in 2008 on holiday in the 3 Valleys I broke one wrist on the first run of the first day and the other wrist on the last run of the first day.

    Had to get someone to tie my boots and zip my jacket up for the rest of the week but carried on riding first lift to last chair and then got back to the UK on a Saturday, went to the hospital on Sunday and claimed I’d fallen while playing hockey.

  14. Charlie Alpoholics Bulbrook

    I snapped my Achille’s tendon this summer on the Deux Alpes glacier and although it was agony I was convinced it was just a sprain and tried to walk it off before eventually accepting that I needed a blood wagon. It wasn’t until I got the boot of that I realised there was literally nothing there where my achille’s should have been. I have since re-ruptured it and have now had 2 ops and a tendon graft and its gonna cost me half my season but that’s snowboarding. The Crash Reel made me realise that it could be a lot worse and at least I will make a full recovery unlike poor Kevin et al.

  15. Rob Needham

    I once went to Les Arcs for a week with an unhealed (NHS Cockup) snapped humerus. I could bend my elbow upwards so it would almost touch my bicep. I decided (for safety sake naturally) not to take a freestyle board and be tempted too much – so I too a Burton M8 (182 race baord) and hooned about like a loon for a week.

  16. Stuart Evans

    I agree wholr heartedly with the story. I’ll admit I’m not a football fan either but watch it when it’s on down my local. I also on my 5th morning of ever snowboarding was passed by my guide who shouted across to me that I was f’ing going some. Unfortunately for me I then took a bad tumble. Thought I was badly winded or cracked a rib. I got up eventually & finished my run. At the end of the day I was in such severe pain my missus insisted I go and see a doctor. I ended up in intensive care in a foreign hospital for 11 days and off work for 3 months with a ruptured spleen. Hasent to add, I couldn’t wait to get back out on the slopes again. Whoop whoop.

  17. Arslan Zh

    Not as badass as many other stories people have… but one time i was doing back 3 and landed on my face, my forehead was bleeding and in next few runs I kept going and landed my first front flip!

  18. Burgers

    Pow day in Serre Che, I managed to mistake icy crust on top of champagne for a nice little hit. Knee hit the crust and stopped, board continued underneath. A bit of swearing, snow ice packs and poking later, we rode on. Hiked the ridge, claimed first tracks, lapped it a couple of times and retired early doors. A week later, discovered my knee bent sideways as well as backwards – Snapped MCL, ACL and fractured Femur. “…and if you tell that to the young people today, they won’t believe you…”

  19. Shaun McWhinnie

    “WHY THAI BOXING KICKS THE SHIT OUT OF SNOWBOARDING.”

    1. Powman

      Just saw your facebook profile. Fucking gaper, you don’t know shit. If you think footbals better than riding, go watch your dad kick a white ball around while you jack off and leave the real sport to the big boys

  20. Shaun McWhinnie

    This is such a pointless comparison.

  21. Al C

    While I agree with your sentiments I think you have missed the point some what. Not all footballers are pussies who dive at the first sign of contact, what about all the club level players? Saying all footballers are pussies is like comparing all actors to Tom Cruise! I admit premier league players do over act a lot, but if you’d just spent £1000 on a manicure and a haircut; I imagine you’d be upset if someone tripped you up! Also I can think of numerous sportspeople who are just as/ if not tougher than snowboarders, after all snow is pretty soft! Look at Moto GP riders who can fall off in practice and break their shoulder, go straight to hospital then be back racing 24hrs later, not to mention skateboarders who have to contend with concrete on a daily basis! Don’t forget that snowboarders also rank just behind football players when it comes to being fashion victims!

  22. Paul

    Snapped my collar bone into 3 bits, 3 cm separation, 6 days in to 14 over in Banff – at the end of a night boarding session, was heading back solo. Got up, boarded down, strapped out, got in to the lodge, ordered a double Jamesons, sought medical attention.

  23. We ad it hard

    And for the unitiated in this brand of one-upmanship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Yorkshiremen_sketch

  24. Chris Simmance

    Broken 5 ribs, dislocated my shoulder and broke my collar bone putting it back in myself. Whiplash and dislocated my thumbs too. All in the backcountry and treelined runs with great drops and natural kickers. The pain never stops you if its something you love!

  25. David

    I cracked a rib on the first day of a week in the alps falling out of a hottub. Rode the rest of the week on painkillers. :)

  26. Dewi

    Nice story! It pisses me off when I see footballers act like total pussies, I mean grow some balls.
    Since you asked for an injury story, my worst was riding with a dislocated shoulder. But I bet people can overtop that ;)

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