Called Out: A discussion about over-style

Called Out is a column by Nate Deschenes where he addresses some of the various trends that he sees happening in snowboarding. All opinions expressed are his own.


Last time, if you recall (and many of you do — thanks for the comments), I brought attention to some of the hot new looks that have surfaced in recent times. This time I’m here to take issue with this contrived, if not plain goofy, style weaseling its way into the mainstream and somehow making a case that it is solid snowboarding. So pull your bibs out of your asscrack and quit grabbing your board if you’re not in the air, it’s time for another call-out.

quad-cork-for-post
Illustration by Mark Kowalchuk

Perhaps I can start with an obvious, if not tired issue: Too many spins not enough style. Duh. It couldn’t be more clear that by and large, riders and companies involved in contests are interested in winning. When the measure of a contest run is judged by equal parts style, innovation and progression then we can have a grown-up talk. Until then, we all know the most spins, sorry, “corks”, will win 9 times out of 10. That’s perhaps the most useless topic going at this point. If the riders want that to change, they will change it.

What is not so boring, and actually kind of comical, is the style-forcing that has evolved partly because of that discussion.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good to sort it out, but in the same way we play dress up and tweak out a sexy face in the privacy of our bedrooms before we hit the scene, we need to make sure that shit is tight before it goes live. Yet, because seemingly every snowboarder out there is now affiliated with some sort of cliquey gang complete with a full time production staff with the addictive urge to film, post and promote everything online, this unrefined, unearned, “style” is scrupulously documented. Personally, I find it rather amusing. If showing everyone your best donkey move gets you psyched, who am I to question what makes you happy? I guess the concerning part is that so many underdeveloped minds see this and instead of Marc Frank being the measure of style, instead it’s the anatomical equivalent of Crusty the Clown’s laugh.

I don’t know how to say it, but style should come naturally, however it looks. Otherwise, it’s like over spiced food—nauseating.

Fuck, I live near Mammoth and see it everyday. I mean, grabbing your tail with both hands mid-spin does take a measure of skill and courage, yet it does nothing for the fact that it’s super silly looking. All these grabs are neat ways to limber up, but I don’t know man, we used to reserve those kind of moves principally to make fun of ourselves and make people laugh. Now, it’s the norm I guess.

I’m not ragging on people for having fun and I’m not saying my style wasn’t or isn’t pure shit, but I’m certainly not promoting it. It seems to me that understanding good snowboarding is akin to discerning the difference between an artist and someone who just draws really well. If art critics praised the guy who drew Poker Dogs over Salvador Dali I think we all would agree that institution is flawed. Point is: Snowboarding is fun, but it’s not a satire.

Now there is the whole turning fad. My friend asked me this morning what I thought about all these videos taking over the snowboard internet.

Fuck.

I told him I was wrestling with my opinion, but that it was like everything else that’s dubbed cool, and that we could confidently forecast a legendary hatch of drones infesting the slopes propagating said behavior in the name of “style”.

Perhaps with a more level head, he told me that while it’s probably better than sitting on the couch, it’s obviously a symptom of a greater ill; our copy-cat culture. Simply put, we’re very quick to jump on the hype-wagon. But I suppose that’s the deal these days. Instead of drawing inspiration from a select few videos each year where only the most inspiring riders make the cut, we need a new edit every week to quench our thirst. Following that model, of course we’re gonna slip.

Here’s the thing: Turning is good. Trying too hard to turn really good is not good. When you reach the state of being able to lock in to a nice toesider you will know it. Again, style is good. Using both hands to forcibly extricate the style out of your trick — no good.

So yeah, you could be doing worse things but man, when the vast majority of promoted online content is of this nature it’s kind of hard to ignore.

On the other hand, I suppose it’s just a part of the self-correction phase. Like, we all know style is paramount; we all know learning how to turn is fundamental, yet somehow this was just recently brought to our attention. In turn, kids are trying really hard at both, and for now, look about as graceful as a coyote trying to chew a plastic bag hanging out of its ass. Soon enough he’ll get it, but until then you just kind of cringe a little.

And while we’re on the topic of things that may or may not matter: What’s the deal with calling people “humans”?

“…such a good snowboarder, but an even better human.”

What the fuck are you talking about?

Are we elevating bros to deities by using this fashionable word? Does your verbal consideration now give the credence of a high priest because you’re using acute terminology?

Shit! Get Houston on the line, we’re no longer talking about a mere person anymore, we have a HUMAN in our midst.

If that’s the case, let me state that earlier this morning whilst sipping on a warm cup of coffea arabica I was both ocularly and mentally distracted by the cutest viral feline video on my laptop when I should have been placing a more intent focus my floundering literary career.

Peace, love and donkey-kicks,
Nate D

Markkowalchuk.com

Read also: Called Out: Defenders of the Faith keep snowboarding real

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