Chris Moran - Musings From Uranus
Let’s get one thing straight: I love snowboarding. Love it. I’m officially middle-aged now and I still strap into my bindings and jump around the bed doing indys and methods. Often with my mouthguard on. My wife caught me once, and I screamed (through the orange ball): “I’m boning." She gave me a look that said, “No you’re not, and you won’t be for a while either."
So yeah, I’ve paid my snowboarding dues.
You know who I mean: guys who would win a contest, down the bottle of champagne on the podium, shag the organiser’s sister and burn off a few donuts in the resort car park before leaving a trail of unpaid hotel receipts in their wake
All of which is a preamble to say that my beef this month is not with the act of snowboarding, but with the people involved in it. Namely this: where have all the rebels gone? Sure, there are a few trampy old timers still around, stinking of piss and banging on about the ‘good old days’ of shredding, but the this generation lacks the people that photographer Glen E Friedman called “the Fuck You Heroes". You know who I mean: guys who would win a contest, down the bottle of champagne on the podium, shag the organiser’s sister and burn off a few donuts in the resort car park before leaving a trail of unpaid hotel receipts in their wake?
Try as I might to avoid the ‘back in the day’ cliché, it does seem that that time is over, and our sport is all the poorer for it. Don’t get me wrong; I love watching all the new high-definition, big budget snowboarding films, but where are the people dropping their own rap over their section – boasting of how big they’ve got, and how the ski patrol can’t catch them – like Shaun Farmer? Where’s the guy crashing the Olympics with a dope scandal? Where’s the dude getting deported for trashing a hotel?
I’ll be the first to admit that some of the things that went on in the ‘90s were a bit puerile. Did we really need, for example, two full-time snowboarding jesters (Shaun Palmer and Sean Johnson, aka Boozy the Clown?) And yes, it got a bit samey when most video parts started with someone either smashing a beer bottle over their own head, or vomiting 40 litres of bile into a Japanese toilet.
But you can’t say it wasn’t fun.
Perhaps snowboarding has cleaned up its act and – dare-we-say-it – grown up? Fair enough, but this is a counter-culture we’re talking about, and one of the best the world has ever seen. Are we really ready to settle down in the suburbs with the metaphorical Ford Mondeo in the driveway and an unhealthy crush on next door’s au-pair?
Perhaps snowboarding has cleaned up its act and – dare-we-say-it – grown up?
It's not like there aren't others growing up disgracefully. Take skateboarding; every year the sport churns out a healthy amount of unhealthy heroes, each one with a CV that reads like card from Top Trumps: Juvenile Detention.
And have you been to a BMX contest recently? It’s like jumping back in time to PT Barnum’s freakshow. So tattooed and pierced is the average pro BMXer that it won’t be long before someone does that gold-ringed, neck-stretching thing that the Kayan Lahwi of Thailand do. It’s only a matter of time before Harry Main is on the cover of National Geographic. But snowboarding? “Oh, I know someone who got an ankle tattoo once but she had it laser removed."
There are exceptions, of course. The Helgasons have a fantastic attitude that’s totally in keeping with snowboarding of yore, and the Dalikfodda crew are essentially the Black Widows from Every Which Way But Loose, cruising around Tignes looking for Clint Eastwood. (cue a load of black snowboards being pushed over like dominoes by an orangutan).
But otherwise it’s all a bit rebel-lite isn’t it? Take Shaun White prancing around in his tight, stylised leather outfits. It reminds me of those adverts you see in airports where David Beckham stares out at you, bare-chested but for a flying jacket and a set of aviators. He looks like he’s just been kicked out of the Village People for being far too camp.
Are we all just an enormous bunch of fricken’ feckless pussies who wouldn’t say boo to a goose?
John Cardiel said of why he quit pro snowboarding, “skateboarding just seemed more real, I couldn’t relate to a lot of the snowboarders." Are we all just an enormous bunch of fricken’ feckless pussies who wouldn’t say boo to a goose?
Fuck that – I’d flick a goose a double set of V’s and tell the motherfucker to go quack itself. That’s how I roll. And now that I’m on a roll, I’ll tell you something else: you know what we need to re-dress the balance? Snowboarding gods and godesses, cool people to idolise and fantasise about. Bastards, who treat us with contempt. That’s what we want.