Snowboarders are hardcore. We all know that. You only have to watch the likes of Torstein Horgmo, Mark McMorris and Billy Morgan huck triple corks off 75 foot kickers, or Gigi Rüf and Nicolas Müller fly down near vertical precipices in the Alaskan backcountry, to see that these guys have way bigger balls than other sportspeople.
Take Wayne Rooney and his recent “head injury”, for example. Admittedly, it was a pretty nasty gash, but nothing a bit of glue or a few butterfly stitches wouldn’t fix. But that was Rooney out of not one, but two World Cup qualifier matches for England, and God knows how many training sessions. I’ve seen many snowboarders do a hell of a lot worse than that and carry on riding. Jesus, I’ve done a lot worse than that and carried on riding.
If you throw yourself down mountains, metal rails and off kickers, strapped to a fibreglass board, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get hurt pretty badly at some point. I’ve had my fair share of nasty smashes on the mountain and have the scars, screws and plates to show for it. Have I ever rolled around in agony on the slope? Have I fuck. With the exception of when I broke my ankle and couldn’t stand on it, let alone ride, I’ve picked myself up after every injury and carried on riding, if only to the bottom of the mountain, in the desperate belief that I’m alright. And even if the injury puts me out of action for a few months, I’ll always be back on my board as soon as is physically possible.
But that’s nothing compared to the pros. Last season Halldór Helgason was injured and knocked unconscious when he over rotated on a triple backflip whilst competing in the X Games Big Air final. That type of accident would put most sportspeople out of action for a long time, but Halldór was back throwing crazy tricks within weeks. Anyone who’s seen his awesome part in Nike Snowboarding’s Never Not will notice that he’s even still wearing a neck brace for that insane backflip double roof gap.
Have I ever rolled around in agony on the slope like a footballer? Have I fuck.
Rome team rider, Scottish Will Smith broke his neck last season but still managed to get back on his board before the season was out and put together a pretty impressive season edit.
The majority of professional snowboarders compete year in year out with the kind of injuries that would put a footballer on the bench and many have broken more bones than there are players in a football team. Scotty Lago has broken 25 bones in the 19 years he’s been riding and is still ranks highly on the World Snowboard Tour.
This is why it drives me mad every time I see a footballer flailing around on the pitch after someone has tripped them up. I’m not saying there aren’t some bad injuries in football. Take Eduardo‘s mangled ankle – now that was a proper injury – but the majority of injury stoppages are for little more than some lame acting, or rather, acting lame.
A damaged Achilles tendon is enough to call time on many a footballer’s career. Just look at John Barnes or Mark Lawrenson. However, the type of injuries that end a snowboarding career are infinitely more serious.
As the new film The Crash Reel documents, Kevin Pearce suffered severe brain injury when he crashed while attempting a cab double cork during half pipe training in 2009. He was in a coma for six days and intensive care for almost three weeks before he was moved to a rehabilitation centre to start on the long road to recovery. Inevitably the accident ended his career, but he was determined to get back on the board, and miraculously, less than two years after the near fatal injury Pearce was riding again.
Football and snowboarding are obviously very different sports and there are many external factors that influence a footballer’s actions and ultimately decide their fate, most of which boil down to money. As there’s relatively little money in snowboarding and it’s an individual sport, snowboarders are purely driven by their love of riding and determination to nail the next trick. They may make it look easy in finished edits and in competition, but when you seen the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get those shots or land those tricks (just check the outtakes from any snowboard movie) you can’t help but admire their resilience and tenacity.
But even with all those other factors, I can’t help thinking… Maybe footballers should learn a thing or two from snowboarders and man the fuck up?
Ever lost an arm and kept riding? How about cracked some ribs? Tell us about the best injury you’ve ever ridden through, and our favourite story will win a mug (as well as maximum lad points obviously)