Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Salvation in Limbo

The Kentucky Winter in Toronto continues and my weariness and frustration only grows stronger by the day. I can't remember the last season I rode so little, even when I was a little kid and finding a ride to the hill was like finding a hooker with a bank account. Even though there isn't any snow it is still wet as fuck, and skating is also an impossibility. In this current Canadian climate I have once again been reduced to living vicariously through the video stars whom I have watched admirably through the years. Although I've admired and even obsessed over these video parts in the past, I have never depended on them; until now. Watching snowboarding is the only form of snowboarding going on in my life right now, and thank fuck there is something. That being said, I came across a part last night that I haven't seen in a while, and I forgot how fucking steezey and proper this dude is. He doesn't get crazy tech, doing ballerina routines on rails, nor is he within the realms of the gnarly and legendary back country riders we have come to worship in this culture, but the fact of the matter is that Justin Bennee is a fucking good snowboarder who does stylish tricks at gnarly spots. Glad I got a reminder of this shit last night!!

The Mobb Deep clip at the beginning obviously sets the stage for what is to be expected in this video part, and much like Mobb, it takes a lot for Bennee to get shook. There is undeniably a huge divide in snowboarding, between two dominant styles. It's silly and who really cares, but the divide is there. A lot of people would place Justin directly in one category, referencing his clothing and song choices as evidence of his gangsta influenced, baggy pants, wigger style. The whole word wigger is sooooo ridiculous and it pains me to use it, but that is the word I most commonly hear used to describe this faction of snowboarding. I personally disagree with those people who are quick to place Bennee within this category. I can see the comparisons and it's not a far stretch, but I'm far more a believer that in this cookie cutter industry, Bennee truly stands alone. He is a mixed bag and his style is equally as such. Justin Bennee does not fit into one single category, other than snowboarder. That is what he is; a snowboarder, and any other judgment calls about the dude are for the birds. He's talked openly about his injury and subsequent addiction to pain killers from which he quit cold turkey, dealing with the terror of withdrawal like a beast. It's inspiring to know he's come back from that to keep moving forward with one of my favorite styles in snowboarding. Watch the part, watch the tricks, watch the style. Dude has shit on lock!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back to the Basics

I was in out tonight and two of my friends who are girls and who snowboard were getting super fired up telling me about all the new gear they got for Christmas. They got totally new setups and a bunch of softgoods and shit, all pretty legit stuff. I can't even begin to hate on them for being psyched on getting hooked up with tight presents, and I definitely can't hate on them for wanting to ride decent boards. I realize that the livlihood of the the snowboard industry is entirely dependent on these purchases. Expensive boards are out there and people are buying them, that's totally understandable, but I also think it is important to remember that it is not the board that matters but more importantly what happens on the board.

The girls are real cool and I listened patiently as they ran down their wish list turned reality, because as it's mid January I was excited to hear about any riding they had done this season and actually talk about snowboarding. Unfortunately this conversation was never realized and their excitement turned to indifference as they told me that the shitty weather as of late had prevented them from making it out at all this season. They're totally right, the weather has been absolutely beat all winter, if you can call it that, but at the end of the day there is still snowboarding to be had, it's out there! If I had gotten a whole new setup on Dec. 25th, which was almost a months ago, who knows what I would have done to actually ride the thing. My piece of shit board is getting even more piece of shittier as this poor excuse for a January drags on, but I'm just thankful I've been snowboarding at all! But I digress, there was a point to this post, and being preachy about all of this wasn't it. Everyone snowboards for different reasons, I get that, and who am I to judge someone for having other priorities in life? I'm just glad to know there are people out there hiking through slush with hand me down boards all in the search of getting some.

When in doubt and in need of some reassurance push play on Kael Hill's Dope 2 part and all is right with the world.


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Internviews: Love em or Hate em...Wtf?

I've been watching these internviews pretty closely over the last few weeks, and wow what a unique and perplexing beast they are. After reading the comments posted on each video it is pretty hard to deny and ignore the fact that the majority of the people viewing (or at least the majority of the viewers posting) hate these videos. I can't necessarily say that I agree with this hatred, I mean the videos definitely are pretty weird, but I kind of dig them. The guests are pretty top notch (Bradshaw, Rice, Gabi Viteri, Eero Niemela, the Mitranis, Gigi, LNP, Gretchen Bleiler, E-Jack, Eddie Wall, Jussi Oksanen, Scotty Vine, Lauri Heiskari, Tim Humphreys and Gooner)  and for the most part, snowboard interviews are relegated to the print medium, so it's cool to see some video footage of these shredders just talking. It is not the guests however who fuel the fires of hatred as far as these videos are concerned, but rather the stony and laid back interviewer herself, Jade, who the masses seem to find most disagreeable.

I personally think she's funny and although her delivery might be more then a little non traditional, I think the questions Jade asks are actually pretty well though out, and for the most part allow for insightful answers from the subjects. As a journalism student myself, I would imagine it would be no easy task to secure an internship at a tight mag like snowboarder, so I'm guessing the girl has a true passion for snowboarding if she was able to pull this off and I think she deserves it. She obviously makes the subjects comfortable, and it looks like they are totally at ease when talking to her, and I've heard this is the toughest thing to accomplish as an interviewer. Her upbeat and not too serious attitude make the interviews an easy, lighthearted and entertaining watch, while simultaneously we get to learn some random things about our favorite snowboarders.

During the interview with Travis Rice, Jade mentions that she wants to go in a heli for her 21st. This girl is super young and I think the viewers should take that into account when they rip her a new one with all the negged out comments. Her age perhaps also explains her hilarious lack of knowledge about certain aspects of snowboarding and some of the ridiculous yet chuckle provoking questions she throws out at the snowboarders. For example when Eero is talking to her about Whistler, she asks "That's in Canada right?" lol hilarious. She also asks "who's Curt?" (Curt Morgan), asks Scotty Vine "So you're an Indian?" and asks Tim Humphrey's "Is there a difference between East coast and West coat riding", which was definitely the most knee slapping moment of all the interviews. I think the fact that she asks the questions is super endearing and only makes me think these interviews are even funnier. I've read comments where people are ragging on her for not knowing certain things but I think as an interviewer it's super rad that she doesn't pretend to know shit that she doesn't and that she is open and acknowledging of this.

All in all I liked the series, I mean come on this is snowboarding, the interviews shouldn't be serious Barbara Walters 20/20 affairs, and Jade is perfect for communicating this lightheartedness which is inherent in snowboarding. All the subjects seemed super cool and were great sports about doing these videos. Bradshaw's interview was tight and it was rad to hear Jade talk about him being himself and riding for the kids instead of sponsors and even radder to hear him talk about this himself. I love hearing LNP talk and this interview was no dissapointment, especially the Frank April and Oli Gagnon shout out. Everything in Eddie Walls interview was pure entertainment and seeing her try to talk to Timmy Humphreys about video games was pretty awkwardly funny. All in all with such an over saturation of web content in the last few years, it's refreshing and reassuring to see some quality stuff like this come out, and I can only hope there are more to come in the future!! Stay up Jade!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I haven't posted in a while, for a number of reasons. First and foremost I was on a break from school for the holidays so was back at home stuffing my face with a variety of culinary delights. To be honest blogging was the last thing on my mind. Snowboarding however, is never the last thing on my mind, and that is the second reason I have not posted. It is still dry as a bone here in Toronto and although we have had a few light snowfalls, the hills are in dire straights and the conditions are complete shit. I only made it out a few times over the break, as my local resort wasn't even open most of the time and I was too broke to road trip anywhere that actually had a decent base. That being said, I found myself consciously trying to avoid snowboard media. At the beginning of this drought videos and magazines were the only thing getting me through as I anticipated the eventual snowfall. As I am coming to terms however, with the reality that this eventual snowfall might not actually happen this season, the more I watch other people snowboard the more bitter and disgruntled I get with my own situation.

That being said however, I am back in school and the Real Snow competition video parts dropped today so I figured what better time to get back on the proverbial blogging bus. I normally wouldn't concern myself with anything to do with ESPN, especially in regards to skateboarding or snowboarding, but in all honesty this competition is actually pretty legit. I am definitely not a fan of competitions in skateboarding or snowboarding and don't really back them. I can completely understand from a financial standpoint why someone would find it necessary to compete in them, but as fan of snowboarding, they are normally something I pay no attention to. The Real Snow competition however is unique and interesting in it's own right. Unlike the traditional snowboarding competition formula, which is consistently regimented, stale and repetitive, Real Snow breaks away from that and does not pit the snowboarders directly in competition with each other in some sanitized resort setting. Rather Real Street requires that the selected snowboarders only film a short video part, on which they will be judged. This format allows for a far greater degree of originality and increased potential for progressive snowboarding in a contest setting. The videos are voted on by the public and the snowboarder with the most votes rightly wins the comp and 50k. This is a competition however and much like any competition there can be only one winner. Competing this year were Dan Brisse, Bode Merrill, Scotty Stevens, Pat Moore, Louis Felix Paradis, Halldor Helgason and Jed Anderson.

I'm sure a lot of you expect me to back either Louis or Jed by default based on their Canuck heritage, but alas I am an objective journalist and this plays no bearing on who I voted for. Plus Louis is French Canadian and Jed wears a helmet, vote for them? I think not.

In my opinion the best part comes courtesy of Atchaboy, Scotty Steves wabowwww!! This dude rips and I've been a big fan of him for a while now. I truly believe that a lot of snowboarding and a lot of the people within it take themselves far too seriously. I think this level of seriousness and lack of clarity is detrimental to the culture as a whole and it is fundamental that snowboarding has sub sects that counter this unnecessary seriousness. Scotty Stevens is one of these snowboarders who snowboards because it is fun and helps keep the movement grounded in the roots that let it flourish. The proof of this is in the pudding of this competition. While everyone else used super serious folky or rocky songs in their parts, Scotty kept it lighthearted and within the snowboard world by using Canadian snowboarder turned musician Trevor/Trouble Andrews to shred to. This is insignificant I know, but it is the details like this that keep snowboarding fun and will keep snowboarding fun, from a fan's perspective.

People's opinions of his riding are quite divided with a lot of hate getting thrown at all the one foot, finger flip, shuvit stuff he puts out. I don't get this though. In my opinion snowboarding is all about originality and progression and Scotty is doing this in every bit of coverage he puts out. This part is no different. He blew my mind with the fingerflip hippy jump, bs 50 power box gap to nosepress the power box front flip out, 50 to one foot layback slide on the picnic table, front flip handplant on the pole, one foot step hop on the pole, sw noseblunt tap to fakie front board to regular, the 5050 on the crazy close kinked rail and the back flip onto 5050 the power box. In regards to every other part in this competition, it is not to say they aren't amazing, and that every rider in there isn't fuckin gnarly as shit, but the thing is that the majority of the other riders tricks could be interchanged in any of the other parts seamlessly. This is definitely not the case with Scott Stevens, as his snowboarding and his video parts are unmistakeably Scott Stevens. Here's to win, I can only imagine what he would do with a 50k prize.