Let’s put this into context. In October 1995, when the first issue of White Lines was published, Simply Red were enjoying a four week stint at the top of the charts with ‘Fairground’; the first telephone booking was taken for a new budget airline called ‘easyJet’; and the average UK house price was £60,000. In snowboarding, the following trends were noticeable:
• The British Snowboard Association (BSA) was still driving the UK scene.
• The average male snowboarder was riding a board between 148 and 155 cm long.
• The concept of the ‘All Mountain’ snowboard was a revolutionary phenomenon.
• ‘Jibbing’ was on the wane – a half-forgotten fad formerly practiced by guys with enormous clown pants.
• No one had heard of JP Walker. Or David Benedek. Or anyone with a first name of Jeremy and a last name of Jones.
• Black arse and knee patches were the height of cool.
• Airwalk were selling bucketloads of their ‘Halfpipe’ boot (complete with trainer-like inner)
• The holy grail of snowboard design was a viable step-in system which would eliminate straps.
• Mack Dawg was still a partner in Standard Films. His first breakaway film, ‘The Meltdown Project’, was released that autumn – and was the first to employ snowmobiles to access the backcountry.
• The BSA Dryslope finals had just been held at Sheffield, and had ended in a riot. Whether this had anything to do with a strange new energy drink, called ‘Red Bull’, which was being handed out to snowboarders at the event, is open to debate.
Full of passion for snowboarding but lacking the content with which to fill a whole magazine, the editor at that time was forced to improvise. He interviewed tramps near the offices in Oxford and called it ‘Freak Speak’, he photographed Matchbox cars for a feature on how to do a handbrake turn, and for want of actual riding shots he decided to fill any spare pages in the gallery with pictures of motorbike jumps and other crazy shit. Hence, for the next decade, the gallery was known as ‘Stunts’.
75 issues on, and in many ways White Lines is unrecognizable. Over the past 12 years we have built up a global network of contributors, launched a website, printed hundreds of articles and given away countless VHS cassettes and DVDs. These days we are sent more amazing snowboarding photographs than we can ever find a home for. In a way it’s a shame that Evel Knievel and the freaks of Oxford have been pushed out; on the other hand WL always aimed, first and foremost, to be a wicked snowboard mag – one that mixed great photography with a British sense of humour and love of travel. In this sense (I hope!) the original spirit lives on.
So here we are: Issue 75. You might well wonder if we’ve finally run out of things to say about snowboarding. Well, it’s a strangely life-consuming thing this riding business – just ask James Stentiford, who we recently interviewed about undying passion for lines. Just as there are always new mountains to explore, or fresh routes to take down a favourite powder face, so too there’s never a shortage of new places to write about, or fresh angles with which to approach the simple, addictive pleasure that connects us all.
For this month’s voyage into unknown territory, try reading about our incredible trip to Kashmir – home of the world’s highest lift; or for a different line on a familiar theme, turn to Chris Moran’s piece, ‘After Hours’, which describes the special buzz of riding after dark. Whether you’re new to the mag or are one of the old school, I hope you’ll stick with us for a few more laps.