Chris Moran - Musings From Uranus
The first snowboard contest I ever went was in Scotland in 1991. We rode a pipe that the competitors had to build by hand; we hit a kicker that might as well have been someone’s dining room table with two end legs removed, and around 80% of the competitors slept in their cars. The other 20% just stayed up all night.
No matter how amazing a snowboard photo is, it can always be improved by having someone draw a massive cock and balls on it. Spunk optional.
All of this was overshadowed by the fact that on the way up, some fellow contestants convinced one of their group that he needed a passport to get into Scotland. Too far into the journey to turn around for it, they persuaded him to get into a board bag that was tied to the roof of the car. Apparently he was up there over two hours – and yes, his cruel young friends made him do the same on the way back too. I won’t name names of course, but since then, the infamous “John Green incident" has long been passed down as a way of exposing snowboarding’s more innocent days.
A few years later we started Whitelines (the mischievous title was no accident) with the very aim of not only publishing such stories, but trying to create them too. Since our first magazine back in 1995 through to the one you’re holding in your hand [well, if you're reading this on a phone that is - Sam], I have learned three cast-iron guarantees in publishing. One - no cover-mounted freebie will ever be as good as the squid-launching, rocket-shaped gun you get with the CBBC Octonauts magazine on the bottom shelf. Two - contrary to what the editorial staff might believe, the only people who care about the thickness of the paper that the magazine pages are printed on are those who have been caught out in the bathroom with no bog roll. And three - no matter how amazing a snowboard photo is, it can always be improved by having someone draw a massive cock and balls on it. Spunk optional.
And of course, this is EXACTLY the way things should be. I don’t know about you dear reader, but I firmly believe that we must always resist the urge to take ourselves too seriously. As Oscar Wilde said: “It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh at himself, history would have been different."
Do we want competitive snowboarding to reach the point where athletes have to train so hard that they end up - like Andre Agassi famously did - hating what they're doing?
I fear it has already begun. It starts with the odd fist pump celebration, followed by glaring at people you think have wronged you (judges, lift attendents etc) and before long it’s entirely normal to throw a Mariah Carey-style hissy fit because your outfit isn’t completely colour co-ordinated. We’re holding on to a balloon here people, and if we don’t let go now it’ll be impossible to in the near future.
Do we want competitive snowboarding to reach the point where athletes have to train so hard that they end up - like Andre Agassi famously did - hating what they're doing? Do we want the younger generation to surround judges? I fear it’s the thin end of a wedge, and it’s already happened to most other sports. Take kids’ football, where they do ten roly polys while holding their shins, trying to trick the ref into giving a penalty because they’ve seen the professionals do it on Match of the Day. Of course it’s not just our athletes that need to be wary – all snowboarders have a duty to keep our sport in check.
Let’s not go too far of course: jester hats and clip on tails (tails!) are a definite no-no, and I’m not suggesting we go for any ‘enforced fun’ either. I just mean we should put as much focus on blindfold tree racing as we do on the Olympics. We should laugh at each others slams, race each other to the bottom (last one makes a brew) and yes, every now and again we should tie each other to the roof of a speeding car. Snowboarding has a long and fine tradition of being idiotic, so let’s celebrate the ridiculous, and keep the flame of rebelliousness alive.
Yeah, we do something that’s of no use to anyone, but it’s fun – so what?
It was the climbing author Lionel Terray who pointed out that mountaineers were essentially putting themselves through increasingly insane training regimes as a way of achieving what is essentially a worthless goal. “Conquistadors of the Useless," he called them, and since he coined that phrase in 1965 the climbing community has embraced the idea. Yeah, we do something that’s of no use to anyone, but it’s fun – so what?
With that in mind, who fancy a game of S.K.A.T.E? I’ll go first and we’re going to try nollie backflips off that cat track. And no, you can’t have a look at what the landing is like. Who’s in?