I think these are my favorite kind of days snowboarding, when the flakes come down so thick and fast the fairweather types run for the open fires and hot chocolates of the mountain cafes. When the flakes fall so fast and big they cover anything that stays still for too long. When it's so white everywhere you cant see more than a few feet but you know it doesn't matter because it's all soft When it's so deep between the trees that your mouth fills with snow still hanging in the air from your previous turn. When the world seems silent save for the whirring of the lift and the whoops of your fellow adventurers. When all that matters is racing back to the top to do it all over again.....
So the North wind has been howling and surfing the internet has been the closest i've got to any kind of surfing this week. I did get a couple of cool things through the post. It's always an exciting moment when a new Surfers Journal drops through the letterbox and if youve never read it, i'd heartily reccomend subscribing. It's not cheap but it is well worth it in my humble opinion!
I also got hold of a copy of Thomas Campbells "slide your brains out" I'm most definately a sucker for a nice coffee table book and i'm a fan of all of Tmoe's output whether still, movie or paint based so loving this was a sure thing. There are some great photo's all with Thomas lo-fi pulled back style, some you will have seen and some new ones, all captioned by Thomas with his characteristic wit. A good stormy day timewaster!
I'm still in a snowy mood though so i thought i'd post this......
Back when i started snowboarding it was a much simpler more rudimentary affair. The kit was still very basic and it inhabited a space right at the fringes of snowsports, some resorts still banned the killer craze and middle class skiers still happily referred to riders as "gays on trays"... to your face.
Freestyle tricks were developing rapidly but a backside 360 with a grab was still considered tech enough to put into a video part and kickers were still small. In short, watching an early film, like the original TB films, it still seemed achievable to us, not too much of a stretch from what we could build and do. We felt part of things.
Today things are very different. Snowboarding is firmly in the mainstream (dare i say it freestyle skiing seems a bit cooler to the local kids in euro resorts?!) riders train like athletes and have sponsorship deals to match. Watching one of the more recent snow videos, like the Art of Flight for example, is jaw dropping. The balls and technical standard of the riding is awesome BUT it now seems so removed from most peoples frames of reference it's easy to lose interest or somehow not feel like your involved in the same passtime.
It's incredibly refreshing then to watch something like the short piece above with it's general absence of huge lines, kickers and technicality. It's far closer to our own experience of snowboarding fun, blasting around a resort chasing face shots, tree runs and piste side hits, grinning and whooping like fools in white out conditions. Most of it is shot at Mount Baker in Washington which gets ridiculous amounts of snow and is one of the few mountains i'd love to ride but have yet to get the chance to.
The film is made by two ex-pro snowboarders, Byan Fox and Scotty Wittlake. Scotty (with the broken front tooth!) is perhaps the embodiment of what snowboarding (& skateboarding) used to be, donating much of his sponsor related income to charity and walking away from a lucrative pro career at the height of his powers to find his love for riding again. Away rom the ever encroaching tendrils of the mainstream, corporate big business, ski companies and energy drink money.
He worked as a fisherman in Alaska and a bike messenger in Portland to fund his simple lifestyle and ride without the pressure of cameras. His views are forthright and pretty punk (check his rant on the olympics) and you might not agree with him but he is still a great snowboarder and someone i always enjoyed watching.
I've been out on my bike a lot recently, a combination of enforced dry dock, lack of time, lack of decent waves to get excited about, maybe if i'm honest a slight dimming of the desperation to get wet at any and every opportunity.
In fact it's been kind of liberating to have something to do for fitness thats always available and not dependant on the lining up of several fickle things. It's been fun to find a new way of getting a little shot of adrenalin, learning some new skills. One of the things i've enjoyed most has been exploring the place that i live in a whole new way, seeing familiar places with new eyes and going to beautiful places that are within a couple of miles of my well worn ruts that i never knew existed.
Maybe it's a part of getting older but i feel i've found a kind of peace in my surfing lately. Dont get me wrong, i still love it, i still get butterlies of excitement when i wake on a day thats good and i know i'm going to get waves, but i dont feel like i have anything to prove anymore, to myself or anyone else. I know that it doesnt matter how many sessions i miss, i'll still be able to surf ok when i get in again.
I think i used to feel like i was somehow "getting away with it" with being able to surf to a decent level, being fit, being accepted in the local surfing community as having something to offer and that if i didn't keep pushing, pushing, pushing i'd somehow get found out as an expensively kitted pretender worthy of derision not respect. I think a lot of my happiness in my own self image was tied up in it and thats not the healthiest way to be. Maybe there's some buried childhood thing - i do remember a traumatic losing of a sack race at sports day somewhere along the line!
I also think there is a kind of underlying macho bullshit in surfing associated with wave size, from the magazine's obsession with them right through to the casual downrating of wave size by many of the surf reports. I like small waves and i'm not ashamed to say it, for me they're more fun.
Forgive me if that all sounds a bit american and hippy (california is of course my spiritual home :-)) but i know what i'm talking about even if i've not managed to convey it. Suffice to say it's all good in trimworld.