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Cultural uprisings and other weekend activities

Kent Roberg

Skiers go faster on the flats. It’s the poles. Snowboarders push, pop, and penguin, and yes, sometimes knuckle drag. It has been argued snowboarders are lower on the evolutionary scale–smaller cerebellums. I argue the size of the brain has nothing to do with the delineation between skiers and snowboarders. In my defense: Glen Plake and his role in the evolution of freeskiing.

Perhaps boarders are lower on the scale. Maybe that’s why you see them screaming out of the deep snow and tight trees cackling and whooping like idiots. They come from nowhere, sometimes they drop on top of you in lift lines like apes from trees.

Skiers, much to their credit, bring things to the mountain snowboarders will never perfect. Take the yard sale for example. We have all seen one. Giggled on chair lifts. Oohed and Ahhed and flashbacked to the day and knocked on wood. A good yard sale is always worth stopping for and always deserves props. No one is more evolved in putting together a yard sale than the skiers. Hats, goggles, poles and skis, strewn across the mountain like a super center sale. And the proprietor, hiking up a double black in uncomfortable, hard, plastic boots which cost an exorbitant amount of money, looks like he really enjoys pushing the limits like only the two footers can.

The roots of snowboarding run deep. There is connection to a greater subcultural movement. Snowboarding was not accepted by the skiing status quo until, like punk rock, it became so popular with the younger generations that the establishment was

forced to acknowledge snowboarding.. That’s how the ski resorts came by in large to allow boards on the mountain and why “Anarchy in the UK” broke at number one in London after gaining tremendous popularity on London’s pirate radio scene in 1977.

In both cases it was an uprising of cultural significance.

The arrival of snowboarding completely changed how snow riders look at the mountain. With movement and styles more like surfing, snowboarding harkens back to the arrival of surfing on the west coast in the 1920’s. It brought a lifestyle of excess and freedom and in many ways marked the emergence of the American youth as a subculture.

Snowboarding combined elements and attitudes of surfing and the skateboarding scene of the sixties and seventies and brought it to quiet resort towns. By this time skiing already held the mystique of wealth and escape. The skate mentality is much different: it’s a raw, visceral and unstoppable mindset. Naturally skiers felt threatened by this new, brash, arrogant go to hell attitude. Who needs that on a powder day?

Terrain opened up to boarders never before accessible by skiers. Tight trees with deep powder stashes became easily accessible given the quicker turning radius and larger surface area a snowboard provides. The freestyle elements the street skaters brought to the table led to the development of some of the biggest jumps and terrain parks ever built. The skiers elevated their game and the sport to a new level, simply because there is something every one on the mountain has in common — a quest for freedom, for adventure, for pushing the limits and experiencing that rush only a true powder junky knows, whether on tele’s, alpines, or a snowboard. Maybe skiers are just jealous because the boarders got the first tracks.


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