Competitive snowboarding is in a progressive cul de sac that will end with a brand new crop of seventeen-year-old snowboarders-come-gymnasts battling it out with quad corks in Korea in 2018. This is not a healthy projection of our sport into the mainstream, as it ignores the heritage and legends of our sport in favour of progression.
“Competitive snowboarding is in a progressive cul de sac”
The blame lies uncomfortably with the Olympics. Since 1998, when snowboarding debuted at the games, we have been trying to work out ways to standardise the sport in the competitive arena in the hope of appearing more professional in the eyes of the IOC and FIS and take back a slice of the Olympic action. It hasn’t worked. In fact it’s had the opposite effect, as competitions become more sterile and predictable, their popularity slumps and so in turn sponsorship dries up. The first casualty of smaller budgets is the TV product, now a luxury most events can’t afford. Working for the BBC I argue every year that we need more snowboard events, but there are so few events that have a high-quality TV product that I don’t have a strong case. On top of that, with no coherent tour and a high turnover of young riders leaving a lack of recognisable faces, it’s increasingly difficult to make people care.
“Wherever you are in the world, you know what slopestyle courses are going to look like. Where is the creative challenge?”