What Makes A Snowboarding Legend?


Ways to be a legend #102: Have a ridiculous nickname (think Flying Tomato) and an iconic method like Terje ‘The Sprocking Cat’ Haakonsen. Photo: Adam Moran

If timing is important, then (as with all boardsports) style is absolutely crucial for the fledgling snowboard legend. If nothing else, it will always be what separates our noble art from cringeworthy modern arrivistes such as (and I can barely type the words) ‘extreme pogoing’, or scootering, and we should at the very least be grateful for that. This has very little to do with the subject in hand but I’ve been meaning to get it off my chest for a while so I’m going to come right out and say it: on a fundamental aesthetic level, good style is impossible in these Johnny-come-lately pursuits. Who could possible say why? It might be snobbery, but it’s the truth. I’m sure they’re having a lot of fun, but they just look shit, no matter how high they’re backflipping or how much they’re pretending not to bend their knees so they can fit onto the things.

Consider, in contrast, the graceful economy of the humble snowboarding method. Here is the trick as metaphor, a manoeuvre that in one fell swoop tells you everything about the sport and – even more mysteriously – also acts as a barometer of style for every single snowboarder in the world. That’s some deep, spiritual shit right there.

Is it any wonder that the legends of our sport are also the most beloved exponents of the method air?

And forgive me as I warm to my theme (I knew this was leading somewhere) but is it any wonder that the riders who are universally considered to be the legends of our sport are also the most beloved exponents of this one move? Examples crowd the memory. Palmer’s variation was so great he even got his own offshoot called – of course ­– the Palm Air. Terje’s cat-like approach was generally unrivalled until Müller came along and tweaked it a decade or so later, like an apprentice Da Vinci adding an angel to Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ. Jamie Lynn’s mastery of the method was so complete that even now, 15 years after anybody actually saw him do one, it is still talked of in hushed, awed tones.

I could go on. But that, my friends, is why boardsports are morally superior to these other laughable pretenders, and why a riding style seemingly bestowed on some riders from the Gods is such an object of wonder in our world. Having a trick bag so deep it could carry your monthly shop is all well and good, but style, above all else, is the one indefinable attribute that separates the merely good riders from the truly great. And long may it continue to be so.


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