A new season dawns, and I find myself in a new office with a new designer, preparing to take a fresh route down a familiar line. The usual editorial concerns about photographs and pending articles are now supplemented by a whole set of other tasks. There’s a brand new website hungry for content, and an additional issue – the forthcoming product guide -that is both exciting and time-consuming.
Already the latest videos are turning up on the desk for review, beginning with Mack Dawg’s new fi lm Picture This. It is without doubt the slickest piece of snowboard filmmaking ever produced, and it’s clear that old Mack Dawg is trying his best to move things forward without simply relying on the riders to risk their necks further. Yet for all the smooth follow-cams and technical freestyle it left me feeling just a little bit empty. Earlier this summer we took a trip up to Halifax dryslope, where David Benedek was shooting part of his new film In Short (you can read more about his visit later in this issue). At one point in our discussion, the subject turned to the some of the early films, when titles like Creatures of Habit and New Kids on the Twok were decidedly more rough-and-ready. David talked about his belief that snowboarding needs a resurgence of this kind of amateurism to re-invigorate it.
Now, I’ve been mulling over this thought for a while, and I’ve come to the conclusion that amateurism is indeed where it’s at. Not in the sense that I’m pining for a return to ‘the good old days’, but in the sense that snowboarding, when you boil it down, is really about raw energy. In his interview this month, big mountain Jeremy Jones describes one of the most momentous Alaskan descents of his career. “I was so jacked at the bottom I was shaking,” he explains. “I felt like I was going to puke and had tears in my eyes. That run changed my life.” Of course none of us are ever likely to drop in to a line like Jeremy’s, but we can all relate to his adrenaline rush – the fabled ‘stoke’. It happens when you link your first turn, when you approach your first kicker, when you land your fi rst 180: pure, heart-in-your-mouth excitement. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. French legend Regis Roland, star of the outrageous Apolcalypse Snow movies of the 1980s, perhaps put it best in his interview for this month’s Roots article. “You know I made my first turn in April of 1982? I decided to go straight down, and I thought “OK I lean over, and it turns, and it turns… and voilà! Now I get it!”
I think this is what David Benedek meant when he talked about amaturism. Back in Regis’s day the whole sport was new, and just the sight of someone gliding sideways down a mountain was a thrill; today the challenge is to re-capture that raw energy on fi lm. Of all the resorts in the world – and for that matter all the dryslopes – he came to Halifax because he loved its (very northern) lack of pretense. There’s a slope, a drag lift, a pub, and a café. That’s all. Riders go up, they strap in, they hit the kicker and – for a brief moment – they are airborne. Then they arrive at the bottom and start all over again. Up… down. Up… down. Up…down. When you really think about it, this simple rhythm is the essence of snowboarding. Whatever trends come and go in the glare of the international spotlight then, we shouldn’t ever forget that. It’s your personal buzz at descending in a straight line as much as steady cams and 900s that make snowboarding the phenomenal entertainment that it is. Have a great season.