The line between hero and legend isn’t easily defined, it’s a terminal gray area that can’t nor shouldn’t have to be explained. Snowboarding has heroes and it has legends, both of which make up the landscape that is our culture and for some the sport aspect. Look at the growth and success snowboarding has had as an industry, activity, and lifestyle, we’re at a point now where we have built both hero’s and legends.
The question though is why is it hero’s get remembered but legends never die? Personally I feel the best way to look at this is to ask yourself to name who were the top five in both men’s and women’s half-pipe at the last couple Olympics off the top of your head. Can you successfully name everyone? It’s a question I like to pose to people every now and then to see how long it takes them to come up with an answer without using Google or Wikipedia. The reason for this is that it shows to have a legacy in snowboarding you have to do more than just be good at snowboarding and win a few contests.
Sure we know Shaun White has two Olympic medals but can you name every video part he’s been in since he was sponsored? I doubt any of you can remember him having parts in old Mack Dawg movies because they just weren’t that memorable. And this is why a legacy is important to be a legend.
Terje is a prime example of a legend of snowboarding. Not only did he win contests, had the documentary Subjekt Haakonsen along with other video parts, but he also was the favored to win champ of the inaugural Olympics, but opted to take a stand against the ski establishment. It was that solitary act of rebellion that in my opinion and probably many other peoples solidified him as a true legend. This created his legacy and what he will be remembered for with generations to come.
Granted snowboarding in the 90’s was a whole different entity than what we have now. Look at the landscape of snowboarding today and it’s become one of expendable heroes. Today’s gold medalist is tomorrows where are they now? The legacy aspect of the rider is gone albeit for a set few. Shaun White verse Travis Rice which one is going to be more memorable to snowboarders in 10 years? How about the mainstream? Travis may just usurp any form of a legacy Shaun might have solely because he has video parts, insane backcountry skills, and now with Supernatural plus Art of Flight the mainstreams acceptance. While Shaun will sell to Target catering to soccer moms.
Any rider on the come up now who has aspirations of grandeur had better learn a few lessons and it can all start from watching the 1993 movie The Sandlot where actor Art LeFleur playing Babe Ruth says, “Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” Being true to yourself and what you believe in will create that legacy you need to be a legend.
With big endorsement deals it’s easy to be a corporate made hero and to some extent a faux legend. But if you’re compromising who you are for the almighty dollar your legacy probably isn’t going to amount to more than some material possessions. Snowboarding needs more legends and less hero’s.