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Wisdom from the newschoolers.com debate team

Scott Willoughby

There is, I’m told, a thin line between love and hate. If you could name it, I suppose it would be called passion.I recently experienced firsthand that passion, the love of freeskiing manifesting itself in hate or at the very least, severe disdain for me through the anonymity of cyberspace. Yeah, I got some love too, but nothing compared to the threats against my health and home generated from a column I wrote taking the Nature Valley U.S. Freeskiing Open to task last month. Not that I’m complaining. It was invited.But it’s probably a good thing that all 34,681 registered members of Newschoolers.com aren’t dedicated readers of my column. Otherwise, my life could be in grave danger.As it stands, there are only a handful of genuinely disturbing threats among the 100 or more posts directed at me on “Freeskiing’s Online Community.” And, personally, I think I can take ’em.It doesn’t take much to raise the ire of freeskiing’s jibbing community, primarily due to the age demographic, I’m guessing. Describe the prevailing image surrounding the sport’s participants as “punk” instead of “gangster,” and some grommet threatens to throw a brick through your window. Passion indeed.I said a few other things about the U.S. Freeskiing Open, mostly calling out the producers from Freeze magazine and the sport’s high-profile athletes to step up and get their act together after seven years of U.S. Open competition in Vail. The event that claims to exist “to continue to set benchmarks for the sport of jibbing” seems to me to have slipped off course now that the sport has achieved national recognition at events such as the Winter X Games.What was initially the driving force behind park and pipe freeskiing has languished behind poor organization and punk attitudes. Point being, the sport more specifically, the Open needs to determine the image that will carry it into the future, and could stand some industry-aided organization.Sure, the thug/punk/gangster thing works for a lot of folks, and slackers have survived since the ’80s, but if that’s the benchmark, I’m out. Leave it up to the Newschoolers.com debate team to determine the sport’s fate:4skizzle: I think having a “punk” image or a “counter culture” image is a good thing to a degree. It gives us an identity as a community of skiers, but with our image and our attitude we need to make positive contributions to the ski world.Melvs: The punk image and Tanner Hall are not good for skiing.PocketRocketRipper: I believe that the big name freeskiers should not have to be role models in their personal lives, but rather less emphasis should be put on their lives off the slope.Misty7: I actually hope he is right. I don’t want McDonald’s toys of skiers and s___ like that did to skateboarding. Inline was saved and got to keep its soul because the really good skaters went underground and didn’t want to play into the X Games crap. As for skiing not progressing, it isn’t in the way he said, but it is in the way of tricks and going big, and isn’t that what we want?SickIto: I understand that yes, if it was allowed to go corporate like every other aspect of skiing, then obviously it would become much more widely known and better managed, but the fact of the matter, in my opinion, seems to be that the big ski corporations don’t want to support us the way we need them to. … I’m not against the support of big corporation, because when they get in here and support us how we need to be supported so this doesn’t become a sport without the soul and the passion we throw down with everyday, then I say bring them and their money in. Until then I guess I will just stay punk.Midwest_rep: I disagree with his main point saying skiing will die if we don’t fix our image. Skiing does not need extensive coverage or anything to survive. BUT, I think he is dead on when he criticizes Tanner Hall’s and everyone’s attitude nowadays. I am probably the minority here, but I have been jibbing for longer than most of you and I refuse to alter my image to fit with those guys. I think it is stupid I cannot wait until this whole Crew and area code Posse s___ passes us by and skiing finds its niche where it doesn’t have to pose and pretend to be something it’s not.Snafu: F___ that guy for writing that article and the Denver Post for publishing it.Skifreeordie: Honestly I’d say more skiers are not a__holes or kids looking for trouble … most are more along the lines of Dave Crichton or Steele Spence.ECfreeski3: ESPN has showed that Tanner can definitely sell our sport very well, so this guy needs to be kicked in the balls.Logchucker: I believe the article forgets to bring into account the age of the “New Breed.” Heck most of them aren’t even 21 yet. … Our sport really does not have people really who are mature enough to meet these guys needs. … Snowboarding didn’t evolve over seven years, neither will skiing.Slickjamesjik: He’s right that skiing will not become mainstream or recognized unless properly handled. And as much as some as you “undergrounders” are against that, it is the only way for the sport to survive.SkiLuigi1300: Who cares about his opinions, we should get his home address cause I’d give him a piece of my mind … taped to a brick that I’d throw through his front window.Skiertrav: In my opinion skiing does have a bad image sometimes. The arrests, underage drinking and especially drug use. All of these contribute to a bad portrayal of what skiing is really about. I personally don’t agree with many skiers’ lifestyles … however, I would never judge anyone for what they do, and really I don’t care. Do whatever makes you happy.Flatspin720: I’ve participated in the US Open, and I would say that it is one of the most unorganized events I’ve ever competed in.Five-9: It’s true that kids look up to the athletes. After this year’s X-Games Superpipe, it was almost a bittersweet comp. Skiing is starting to get more recognition and I pray that Skiing doesn’t become as commercial as snowboarding.Telestar6: Freeskiers have made themselves into this isolated group. We really don’t have a lot of influence outside our sport. I think this will change in the future as the sport gets bigger. But when guys like Rory Silva do stupid immature things like flip off the camera on live TV it just makes us look like a bunch of unorganized kids. That lack of respect for the media just emphasizes the idea that we don’t have our s___ together. … I just think that the only way that our sport will branch out and reach kids not already involved in skiing is if we have some people who make a conscious effort to be good ambassadors of the sport. I don’t think there is any doubt in people’s minds that this sport will grow. But I think we can do a lot better and, more importantly, get more money involved if we create a positive, fun image and not try to outcast the people outside our little group. I think it is on the shoulders of all the big name park skiers to carry a good image and attitude of the sport.Rick_Husted: The attitude thing sucks, yeah, we all know that. Anytime you’re dealing with people that are really good at what they do, and have worked hard to get that good, you’re going to get attitude. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s true.ThisAngelicRage: Well when it boils down to it, no matter how much skiing progresses, it’s mostly going to be composed of angst filled teenagers like me, and you. We don’t want a clean cut nice guy to look up to. We like assholes because we are assholes.jibEmpyre: What in the hell does he expect us to progress too? We already go bigger than the snowboarders in the pipe.Kasanovah: Most of us just don’t give a s___. I mean, we wear what’s loose and comfy, we talk how we feel like cause what the hell do we care. I mean if all this public image stuff went away, we’d all still go slide rails and hit jumps, and even with that it would eventually start all over again because we’re a market to be marketed. Bitches that whine like this writer ain’t helpin or changin anything.Natedawg: Listen to you guys! There’s the attitude right there! He is right, and I think most of you misinterpreted what he meant by “progression.” If we want sponsor dollars and investors and everything that makes our sport survive and PROGRESS, we’ll eventually have to smarten up and treat things professionally.Tmorry326: Let people do what they want, ski how you want, make whoever you want your role model. It’s your choice.Scott Willoughby yearns for more enlightenment from similarly eloquent spokesmen for the freeskiing community. E-mail him at scott_willoughby@earthlink.net


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