Chris Moran - Musings From Uranus
In my last piece I wrote of how perfect snowboarding experiences – like good nights out, sex and cigar smoking – are best when they’re spontaneous. If they’re really, really good they should also be regretful, and involve payments to keep photos off Facebook. Also, they should make you choke a little, especially if you’re riding three foot of fresh in Japan and going for the ultimate ‘Bukakke Beard’. I’ll give you that too.
Twenty years ago for example, skaters were almost exclusively groups of teenagers, looking to bide their time between asking strangers to buy cigarettes or cheap cider from off-licenses and lying about how many girls they’ve fingered in the park.
But this month, for the last column of the season I’m going to look into my crystal ball and give you some predictions. Prediction number one: you’ve just guessed I don’t actually have a crystal ball. See? I’m a natural at this. I do, however, have a cup of tea – so I’m going to fish the tea-bag out of the bin, spill its contents into the smallest plate I can find in my kitchen, pretend it’s a saucer, and look at it aimlessly at the mess I’ve created whilst wearing a kitchen towel on my head. Prediction number two: you still don’t believe me. Fuck you. I am.
Now obviously, any guess as to the future of our sport is fraught with Tomorrow’s World-style gaffs. If you don’t remember it, TW was the primetime BBC show that predicted trends and future technology but utterly failed to foresee the internet. That every episode of the show is now on YouTube is an irony almost as delicious as the Backdoor Tax that Lord Fink will no doubt be forced to 'offshore' when he eventually goes to prison.
Anyway, I digress: my point is that predictions, like goalkeeper uniforms, are just one of those things that are very, very good at making you look like a twat in ten years hence. Them’s the rules. The only counter to this is to summon up ambiguous metaphors and easy-to-misinterpret algorithms in the style of Nostrodamus, or other quasi-religious charlatans with agendas to push. Naturally, this is exactly the vibe I’m aiming for.
So, snowboarding: where is it going? I think it’s about to fragment wildly. Why? Because that’s what our sister sports have been doing. Twenty years ago for example, skaters were almost exclusively groups of teenagers, looking to bide their time between asking strangers to buy cigarettes or cheap cider from off-licenses and lying about how many girls they’ve fingered in the park. But now? It’s a broad church that’s split into longboarders, street skaters constantly making edits, old-timers riding bowls, mums and dads gently pushing their kids down to the skatepark, and dog/cat/dwarf-piglet owners looking for a cheap internet viral hit. Sure, there are still groups of boys offering their fingers to one another (though times have moved on: now it’s “hashtag #smellyourmam") but the point is that skating has grown to accommodate every age range in its audience.
Where is snowboarding going? I think it’s about to fragment wildly
Of course surfing is – as it always has – leading the way. Since the 1980s the general trend for surfboards has been to go smaller, thinner and less fun to ride – unless you’re an 8-stone yogi from California with the power-to-weight ratio of Mr Muscle on speedballs. Oh wait, Mr Muscle is all butch now isn’t he? I’m talking about the old, geeky one. Anyway, alongside this (the trend in surfboard shapes, not the complete body-image rethink of a fictional character) has been another story: shapers and surfers have recycled their own history to the point where there are now longboard world tours, fans of the single fin, new-school shapes and even motorised surfboards for those whose hope of getting out back has receded along with their hairlines. It’s a wonder that proper surfers haven’t all but facepalmed themselves out of existence. Yes, there’s an elite tour and dedicated athletes are pushing the boundaries of what’s rideable every time there’s a mega storm in the Roaring Forties, but equally the best-selling surfboard of last year was a wide-bodied pop-out called the Baked Potato.
God knows how we’ve done it, but somehow it’s fat fucks like me who stare at a computer screen all day that have somehow won the ocean. The same will come true in snowboarding I am sure of it.
So, good news all round for all us armchair action sports fans. A total pity, then, that my knees are gone. Ho hum, good job someone invented splitboarding.