For the second week in a row we’ve had our Monday’s snowboarding videos destroyed. First it was the United Kingdoms own Billy Morgan with his quadruple cork 1880 in Livigno Italy and now we have Canada’s Maxence Parrot with the cab quadruple underflip 1620 in Whistler. Two riders, two different tricks, two geographical locations, two different energy drink sponsors, and two very different reactions to the same action.
The divide between snowboarders and people that snowboard is very present in the quadruple cork debate. You have one side that is thoroughly impressed with the four flips and three twists performed, for at least this week, and then you have the other side announcing the death of snowboarding, yet again. News flash, snowboarding won’t die from this, but there will be some repercussions.
Taking nationalistic pride, claims of jealousy, and fear of progression out of the equation we have to look at the reality that a quadruple is more than just possible, it will be done again and again. Billy proved it was possible with his last day on hill: huck, pray, land. While Maxence solidified it with calculated precision. No one can take these never been done feats away from them. Are they impressive? Yes, that is undeniable, but are they the game changer everyone is proclaiming?
To an extent the game of big air has been changed now. We saw this happen previously with the triple cork phenomenon. Look where that trick with all its variations thrives, it’s in competitive snowboarding, it hasn’t fully trickled over into video parts or web edits and most certainly isn’t conquering the likes of lower level contests like Rev Tour, FIS, and USASA. Why? Because the field of riders that can do it is still microscopic in terms of talented riders on this planet. This means that the quadruple is in an even smaller percentage of that field. Will there be more? Most certainly and as time goes by we will see riders going for it as well as it entering the slopestyle arena, but for now it is still contained. Overnight we aren’t going to suddenly see edits of riders doing quadruples in a Sunday in the Park or I Ride Park City edit. There isn’t going to be some kid from Hyland Hills showing up to Copper Mountain USASA Nationals in early April and winning his age division or open class with a triple either. Could it happen? Yes, but the likelihood is still relatively small.
For now the quadruple thrives in the contest scene. Thrown by those who can afford private jump builds, air bags, and private coaches. Yes it will be broadcast to the throngs of X-Games, Dew Tour, and Wide World of Sports viewers. It will most certainly be the highly talked about trick from commentators much like how the triple has been. This trick will become the face of competitive snowboarding once someone steps up and lays their life on the line for the money and glory.
When this happens we will see the divide in snowboarding further grow. The divide that is the basis for the argument between ‘is snowboarding a lifestyle/culture or a sport’ as well as if this is a game changer. You can already see this argument in the quadcork debate amongst those that follow snowboarding. This is further evidenced by the fact that neither Max nor Billy have a snowboard companies support. Look to Burton and Ride’s websites and see if they’re listed on the team page.
These videos are marketing tools for the non-endemic brands of Red Bull and Monster, also these riders biggest sponsors. Will it boost sales of the youthful energy drinks? Probably not, but it has done what it set out to do with viral marketing and making people talk.
This lack of endemic sponsorship when investigated shows further proof of the divide in the direction of where snowboarding is heading. A divide that is compounded when you look at how snowboarding is being presented to the masses. On the one side you have the endemic or “core” media that shows all facets of riding with a bit more emphasis on what some refer to as the ‘soul’ of snowboarding, while on the other it’s the mass produced and polished world of Disney with ESPN and ABC.
It’s here that you’ll see the biggest differences. Which side of snowboarding is going to sell people on doing it more? The lifestyle aspect or the sport? Pro skier David Wise articulated some points on this on a Facebook post after witnessing our Quadzilla video.
There is no question that incredibly high levels of difficulty and danger WILL make a sport shrink. The more dangerous a sport, the more niche it is bound to be because less and less people will desire or even be able to do what is being done. Look at aerials. I honestly do not want to get in to that sport, because it is super gnarly and hard on the body, and for me the risks don’t outweigh the rewards.
My responsibility to the sport extends beyond what is just good for me. Kids getting in to pipe riding don’t have 14 years of experience riding pipe, or access to the training opportunities that I mentioned above so what are they going to think when they see me doing triples in the pipe? Probably some variation of: “that looks like the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, I’ll probably never be able to do that, nor do I want to.” So, will I ever do a triple in the halfpipe? I really hope not. I am a competitor, and I will do what I have to do to remain competitive. I just hope and pray that the sport never goes that way. I can’t promise that the sport won’t go that way, I can only promise that I won’t be the one who takes it there.
I encourage my fellow riders, both skiers and snowboarders to think about the long term effect that you are having on the sport. I am not trying to squash progression by any means. Trust me, you will be seeing me continue to progress. Progress is essential to me as a rider, I can’t stand doing the same old thing over and over. Just be mindful of the way that you are progressing the sport. Lets get as many young people out there shredding as possible!
As Mr. Wise points out making things look unattainable will most certainly cause a decline in participation. This point goes back to the one many have made about how they would rather watch a Yawgoons edit or something similar. It’s those edits that create an attainable image of snowboarding, one the everyman can enjoy.
But here is the actual reality of the quadcork. It is just another page in the book of snowboarding. There will be quintuple corks and probably even a sixtuple cork.
Style will be challenged every time one of these milestones is hit. But the thing with style is that it takes time to refine, look back through the history of snowboarding and try to say that those guys that first did 720’s, 900’s, 1080’s had style the first time they did it. They didn’t, but it was progressive.
Regardless of what you think about the demise of snowboarding or style, snowboarding will live on. People will continue to do it because it’s fun. You won’t stop riding because a guy that has 100% more talent than you did a triple, you’ll just do your own thing and blaze your own path. Competitive snowboarding will progress forward on the path they’re blazing and it will do its thing, will the rest of snowboarding support or follow this? That remains to be seen.
With it all said and done it is impressive that we live in a time where we have seen riders go from single, to double, triple, and now quadruple corks. That is expedited progression, but it isn’t what defines snowboarding as a whole, just a current chapter. For those that support it, awesome do your thing, for those that don’t, there’s more than likely a banked slalom or video project that you can get behind. That is the beauty of snowboarding none of this will fully define it.