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Snowboard Iskola

Sitting here under the light pollution of the XGames one mountain ridge over (I don’t mind), it’s hard not to talk about Zeb Powell and the direction of freestyle snowboarding. If you haven’t seen the knuckle huck, go check the highlights now. Zeb, once again, did some shit. This time however, he didn’t even make podium. Regardless of which rider inspired you from this event, it’s time we have a talk about it.

X-Games 2022

What Zeb Powell did under the lights Friday night, was nothing short of incredible. That was some gourmet shit. His ability to control the edges of his board, his body separation, and all the other instructor nerd component’s I think about every day is absolutely amazing. You could easily spend hours talking about everything that went into all of those tricks, and how each component is an expression of a man who can put his snowboard wherever he wants, whenever he wants. When Marcus Kleveland can’t close his mouth out of admiration, take that as a sign of something special.

Then there is the other side of the spectrum with something like that beautiful underflip from Dillon Henricksen. It’s clean, it’s smooth, and might make some people go learn to underflip next weekend. Different things inspire different people and make them want to go ride the next day. Seeing it in person brings a whole new level of awe to the show and everyone should experience, but let’s add some new events for the “everyperson”.

Christy Prior Snowmass Grand Prix
For real though, everyone needs to see these events live and in person at some point.

First, what if you made the creativity award the highest paying medal in the knuckle huck? Make it worth the same amount as all three podium medals combined and see how the riders change their approach. You want to add some style to the event and do something to combat the over saturation that is insta clips, this is it. Sometimes beautiful flow will win, other times creativity and technicality will win. But for every single conversation we have about how badly the judges wronged someone is one more conversation that puts snowboarding in front of more people. And eventually, the technical wizardry that is Zeb Powell will blend with the clean, eloquent style of the Henricksens. That is a snowboarding future to get excited about, and one that would make me go watch the XGames in person.

While we are at it with encouraging style, let’s occasionally turn the half pipe into an old school hand shoveled stunt ditch. Throw in some rails, reduce the vert, and even add some transition features on the deck. Get creative. There’s a reason everyone looks forward to Holy Bowly in the spring, and it’s because it’s inspiring to watch. And bowl parks are some of the most fun riding you can do at any skill level. So why not let the professionals play in a stunt ditch on big time television. Use the banked turns and mini pipe on Midway Avenue and Baby Doe at Buttermilk. It’s close enough to the XGames venus that it wouldn’t be hard to set up and we’d get to see the professionals goof off like it’s 1999.

One more idea for the road? Let’s add a 720 or 540 contest. Use any feature in the venue you want, spin it or cork it any way you want, but you can’t go over 540 or 720. Let’s see what tweaked out grabs, Superman Flips with delayed spins, and anything else the pros can show. These are the best riders in the world, and I want to see them ride and flow in the way that makes them feel happy and inspired.

Not only might this bring back people to the sport, it would also bring back stunt ditches and parks that rad dad’s and badass mom’s can ride with their kids when they no longer want to take the risk of big features. Pine Knob in Michigan is a brilliant example of this, as is the bowl park at Timberline. Let’s get people thinking “I want to learn that trick” instead of “if I try that imma die”.

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