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Getting’ Sideways

As we were planning this issue in late January,
testing boards, researching, and schralping
the living fluff out of the southwest Montana
mountains, the mainstream digitized outdoor
industry was having a conversation about the
value – and future – of snowboarding.
The Outdoor Retailer trade show had just
occurred in Salt Lake City and the Snow Sports
Industries show was about to open on Jan. 27,
when Outside Online published Marc Peruzzi’s
opinion piece entitled, “Can Snowboarding Be
Saved?”
“Shortsighted marketers are riding snowboarding
into the ground, but there may still be hope to
keep the sport alive,” proclaimed the subheading
of Peruzzi’s story, which had been shared 38,600
times as of EBS press time.
Peruzzi went on to say that by leveraging the
sport’s “rebel cred,” the industry aimed it first at
teenagers, placing snowboarding into a whitebread
box that’s now inhabited by those same
teenagers, all grown up.
Since the trade shows, American snowboarders
Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson won
Olympic gold in the new Olympic sport of
slopestyle. In the 2014 Subaru Freeride Series –
coming to Big Sky in early April – snowboarders
are for the first time at the same venues and
events as skiers.
On Feb. 7, Outside Online published another
opinion piece, this one by snowboarder Annie
Fast, entitled, “Snowboarding Lives! (Long Live
Snowboarding!).”
Fast relayed National Ski Areas Association data
reporting snowboarders average more days on
snow than skiers, a trend dating back to 2001
when the NSAA first started tracking it.
Snowboarding, Fast continued, makes up 24.8
percent of the “participant base” in the industry,
noting that the average age is 27 – not exactly
over the hill, as Peruzzi suggested. Among
women ages 25–44, she said, the sport grew by
40 percent in the last four seasons.
After mulling it over in the EBS office (where we
are 40 percent snowboarders, 60 percent skiers),
we decided this is a lot of hype around a fine
American-born sport we all know is solidified as
part of our culture, particularly in Big Sky.
With the ongoing technological advances of
snowboard technology, one of our testers
pointed out there really is a perfect ride out there
for anyone. In this issue alone, we’ve featured
big mountain boards from Burton and K2; a
women’s specific board from Burton; boards from
smaller niche companies Notice and Venture;
and Dungul Fishes, which are ridden with no
bindings at all.
Although you’re not likely to catch me sliding
sideways anymore, I logged some 300 days on a
snowboard years ago. I know all about catching
my heelside edge on a groomer while learning,
how to lay a turn so deep it brings you full circle,
and also this: There is nothing in this world quite
like snowboarding in pow. Snowboarders, you
win this time.
– Emily Wolfe