Coincidentally, our German ed was on the same trip Weaver mentions in his post. Does this look like the rock’n’roll life? Kevin Backström, Jamie Nicholls and Gjermund Braaten in Halifax.
A New Generation – A New Way of Thinking
Following on from my last column about snowboard schools, I spent the next couple of weeks on the road along with riders who have been through the school’s process, and are now living the life they have been waiting for. Travelling the world, winning big contests, and enjoying everything that goes with it.
However, this generation seems a little different…
Now, back in my days as a very average snowboarder, preseason to me would mean working hard, saving money, and maybe going to the gym once in a while. Even to pros in the upper echelons, only a few years ago, early season would mean a good few nights out on a movie tour, and a good few late mornings trying to shake off the alcohol or ladies from the night before. Whichever was nastiest.
On our tour through the UK last week, visiting Halifax dryslope with the British wonderkid Jamie Nicholls, whenever we got some downtime, the riders were stretching, going to the gym, squeezing a quick run in (admittedly to the Apple store), but throughout they were all very conscious of the toll that travelling can take on your body.
Jamie’s house he said? Here you go. 100% ghetto, innit?
When you think about snowboarding, every year the standard gets higher and the level just to get noticed gets notched up a bit. Jamie Nicholls is now getting recognition around Europe for his consistent riding and amazing attitude, but if he’d had those tricks on lock just two years ago, he would have been heralded as the new King of the Free World. It all means that now the bar has been raised so high, you’re having to put your body through the mill day in day out and then to make it even harder you have to travel the world to actually show everyone what you’ve got.
I imagine you all know one local guy at your resort, or your local park, who rips and everyone says, “That guy should be pro, he’s amazing!” Just before you join in the chorus, ask yourself would he ride that well if he travelled 200 days a year, and rode a different park every day all season? Probably not.
So how can riders now put up with this constant abuse their bodies receive? By being a lot more professional about everything is the short answer. The days of riding hungover or drunk, as many of us will have tried at least once, are behind us. Today many riders have gym routines, plans for how to get over sitting in aeroplanes, how to get ready for events and how to recover faster after riding. Many riders also have physios and coaches behind the scene as well. You might never see them at an event – in fact, that’s the point: Keep up the image of being the rock star who rolls in and wins the event, but more and more riders are looking after that stuff, too.
When you look at our friends from the surf world, its not uncommon for them to have physios, chefs, and everything else they might need when on certain trips or at contests on-hand, and in that respect it seems the surf world is perhaps a couple of years ahead of us. Maybe it’s because we don’t see the dark side of surfing and also that the physical build of a surfer is more impressive to the naked eye, but when you see some of them they do look like they could leap mountains in a single bound. We aren’t there yet, but we are mighty close.
Gjermund Braaten’s idea of pre-season antics.
Whilst some might scream that having these kind of outside forces involved in our sport takes away from how we all see snowboarding in a perfect world, if we want to continue to see the sport evolve, and provide us with new superstars and tricks every season, then their off snow exploits have to make sure they are 100% ready to drop the hammer when the time comes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that snowboarding remains one of the sports on the edge of the term ‘sport’ and laugh every time I see the things which make snowboarding true to its roots. I have found riders in fields asleep, I had riders missing planes, disappearing into dodgy parts of Spanish cities, with equally as dodgy looking women, and just generally overdoing it more often than not. That is still commonplace.
In fact only this weekend, I had a rider miss a plane, but he did a great job of using planes, trains and automobiles to get to where he had to go, which is where the rider back in the day might have said: “You know what, fix me a new ticket.” I just get the feeling the new generation is slightly different. A little more grown up, a little earlier, and ready to work for it.
Check back in two weeks time for more of Jon’s thoughts on snowboarding. In the meantime, check out his blog www.the-goodlife.co.uk!