Like clockwork another skier has come forward with an opinion that snowboarding is dead, albeit this time they believe snowboarding put skiing back thirty years. Not sure where they get this idea since it’s the opposite, but as such this article from the Aspen Times has caused every snowboarder that has seen it to get angry. Which in a time when print is dying and the traditional local news landscape is hurting, it’s gotten what it wanted, a clickbait reactionary response. Now as a snowboarder I felt it was my duty to respond, here’s the response in full.
I’m not sure who Roger Marolt is, nor do I care, because to me he’s yet another person that lives in a secluded ski town bubble. His opinions are his and that is fine as the world is full of them, I know my opinions over the years have rustled a few peoples jimmy’s and I’m OK with that.
Whether he subscribes to Marc Peruzzi’s line of thought or perhaps reads outdated articles from the New York Times, I do not know. Maybe the Aspen Times and its subsidiaries are just fearing the changing media landscape and were hoping that a little opinionated click bait would drive up site traffic, which it most certainly did. What I do know though is that in a time full of divisiveness and “alternative facts” little Roger completely missed the ball on this one.
Snowboarding is not dead, it’s changing and to say that you’ve outlasted something that the Turkish people have been doing for over 400 years seems a bit misguided. Or perhaps it’s one of those “alternative facts” we keep hearing about.
Now I’m not as old as Mr. Marolt, but I was one of those youths that cussed in lift lines, scraped the snow off the runs, and generally made the baby boomers and their children fear for their lives as I slide sideways past. What can I say, I live for the thrill of snowboarding. But in the last 20 years of me consecutively riding and 30 years of owning a snowboard I’ve seen fads come and go, seen the wave of expanse that snowboarding brought with it, and watched it plateau and then decline to where we’re at now. I’ve seen freeskiing rise from a fledgling side spectacle at events like the X-Games and Dew Tour to being a mainstream event. Yes, that’s right, the kids do find skiing awesome again, and you Roger Marolt and everyone that skis have snowboarding to thank for that. But I’d like to take you outside of your little comfort zone and provide you with some “alternative” facts to those that you presented.
Snowboarding did save skiing! We came in at a time when the decline was huge and felt globally. We brought the youth with us. We brought new brands with weird names like Burton, Winterstick, and Sims. We created new technology and had to make things up as we went along when we couldn’t borrow from what skiing had done before us. We brought you the sidecut and some of our first boards had that rocker that all the new age skiers seem to be praising as they plow through the powder. We also brought better fashion with us, but that’s another topic for another time.
The irony that your article came out as the whole snowboarding community is at Mt. Baker Washington celebrating 30 plus years of the longest running snowboard event isn’t lost on me. That’s right, The Legendary Banked Slalom is 30 plus years old, it’s the largest gathering of snowboarders in this country, and it’s not funded by energy drinks or huge sponsors like your precious X-Games. This event is multigenerational from people that are older than you to kids as young as 7. Gathering together to celebrate one thing they love, snowboarding! You won’t see it televised and unless you’re looking for it in your little bubble Roger you won’t hear about it.
Yes, participation numbers are down. Why is that? Well we just came out of a Great Recession, which as seems to be noted by the newspaper that let you publish your opinion might still be being felt down there in Aspen. Then again I live in Breckenridge where we’re having opposite problems of you guys, probably because we’re a bit more youth focused. So while TJ Burke and Dex Rutecki would now be in their mid 50’s while our Rick Rambis and Pig Pen are only in their mid 30’s. The fact is as you were a product of the Baby Boomers love for skiing we still haven’t had our Baby Boomers blossom to their fullest potential. We’re younger than you and while some of us left to pursue education, careers, and families, we’re waiting for them to come back. Year over year we see the childrens, tweens, and youth market grow in snowboarding. There are more families in their late 20’s to mid 30’s starting their kids on snowboards than ever before. This is the ebb and flow of snowsports.
I haven’t skied since 1984, when I promptly made it to the top of the t-bar with my grandmother, took off my Mickey Mouse K2 Skis, and threw them at her protesting how stupid skiing was. But what I do know is that while it may have taken you 3 days to my 30 years of snowboarding to master it, I can still put on a set of skis and have it mastered in less time. And that is just a cold hard fact Roger.
So while you might condemn us to being dead and say we flatlined your perception of the ski industry, the truth is you should probably just say thank you for our contributions, because without us Rodger you would still be lifting that uphill ski while you make a turn on a groomer.