17/11/07 01:00 Filed in: Published
The "Style issue" of Future Snowboarding Magazine is on newsstands right now and I have a little quote and a couple shots in it. I actually wrote a much longer quote that was truncated because of space issues, so I thought I'd put it out here in full. When I was looking for it on my hard drive I found this other piece I wrote about style for a "dos and don'ts" in the Snowboarders' Handbook. I liked it so I included it too. Enjoy.
"Snowboarding is one of those lucky sports where the scoreboard at the end of the game isn’t the thing that defines greatness. Very few of our sport's iconic riders are remembered for their contest results. Even great contest riders tend to fade into the background if they are perceived to have “wack style”. Style is king in snowboarding. A long time ago I was asked “What is style?” for an article in Snowboarder magazine and I answered something about it being “the art of making whatever it is you’re doing, look like it’s worth doing.” I’d stand by that today because when you see someone with amazing style riding they just seem so comfortable in their skin, so fluid and in their element, that you can’t help but appreciate that you are watching them do what they were meant to do. Craig Kelly was always held out as an example of great style, and even though his style came to represent the old school eventually, he was so often imitated that it is impossible not to recognize his status.
I have a memory that will always define Craig’s style for me, even though it had nothing to do with giant airs or steep descents. We were riding at Mt. Baker one day and had to ride from the top of Chair Two down to the mid-station of Chair One. It’s not far and it’s relatively flat, I buckled in for the short ride and when I looked up watched Craig throw his board down and jump on without strapping in. He rode down the flat cattrack for a short distance and then dropped off the side and into a couple feet of fresh snow. He rode down the short pitch making his signature turns, and then when he reached the lower cattrack proceeded to hit the small wall hits, playing around, grabbing his board, kicking out a foot here and there, all the while with nothing but gravity and his balance holding him to the board. It was effortless for him and I rode behind him in awe.
Not long after, Jamie Lynn changed style forever in snowboarding but Craig had cemented his legendary status by then. I feel lucky to be a part of something that rewards people for looking like they are having fun. That’s why style is so important to us, it is always present no matter what kind of riding you’re doing, no matter what level you are at, and if you are a lucky, someday somebody will ride up to you and say; “nice style”."
And the handbook thing:
Style is personal and for better or worse, everyone has it. Unlike a haircut though, you can’t just go out and get good style, so some people are stuck with the dreaded “wack” style. Really, what is good style anyway? Well to me, style has always been the ability to make whatever it is you are doing, look like it’s worth doing. You see some guy hucking himself off a jump, flailing through the air, swatting at flies, and your reaction isn’t necessarily “I want to do that!” But watch someone with good style smoothly spin a 540 on the same jump, land solidly and ride away, and you start to think that maybe that’s something worth giving a shot.
So how do you know if you have good style? Look at yourself in photos or video, or if that’s not an option, ask a friend. Ask an honest friend, though, because it’s hard to tell someone that they look like a gingerbread man riding a rodeo bull.
It is important to realize that style evolves. Craig Kelly had the best style in the world and just about everyone copied it as a result. Then one day Jamie Lynn came along and changed everything and suddenly there was a line drawn in the sand. If you still had “Craig leg” you were old school. As simple as that.
As fluid as style is, some things are big style no-no’s. The dreaded tindy grab is never going to be anything but wack, with the possible exception of being ironically humourous. It’s best to keep it in the tickle trunk though. Bringing it out too often may result in the mistaken impression that it is part of your arsenal…
If you want to play it safe, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you towards epic style:
• Bend your goddamn knees. Nothing says “I’m wack” louder than straight legs and a bent waist.
• Keep your arms calm. Waving or flapping your arms says, “I’m out of control” louder than Mark Sullivan with a microphone in front of him.
• Keep ‘em down too. Arms in the air looks great in the crowd at a Motely Crue concert, not so much on your wicked surf slasher brah.
• Try to keep the grabs between the feet, or on the end of your board. There are going to be a bunch of people telling you it’s ok to grab outside the bindings and it’s true, there are exceptions, and exceptional people who can pull it off, but if you are reading this, chances are you need to play it safe.
• Claim anything. Ever. Here is a mountain rule that some folks just don’t seem to understand: If you tell someone how rad something you did is, it instantly becomes less than half as rad. Limit it to “did you see that?” or “how was my style?”. This tells your friends that you are stoked on what you did without the dreaded “claim”. (Now I know you are saying to yourself: “well I see those guys in the X Games claiming the hell out of shit with their arms in the air at the end of their run. Why is it ok for them?” Here’s the deal, a long time ago, it was discovered that judges reward that stupid little arm raise at the end of a run and it became almost like a last trick. Now fools raise their arms in ‘victory’ no matter what kind of run they had and the whole thing is ridiculous. Want to know how those guys act when there are no judges watching? Take a guess. Let me put it this way, if I got to keep every Rolex, Nixon and Timex raised above ear level on a training day I wouldn’t know what time to go to dinner.)
• Grab outside your bindings. We’ve already established that you aren’t ready yet. Most folks never will be.
• Assume that just because you bought all the gear, all the flair, and all the videos, that your style is world class. Most people rocking the current park costume look like clowns and don’t have the skills to back up the look. If you rip harder than all the other shredders on the mountain then maybe you are getting away with it, if not, you aren’t. (Your friends wanted to tell you, but it was too funny to laugh at you behind your back)
• Snake someone’s line. It’s just so “not cool”. I can’t even tell you.
Now of course there are always exceptions to every rule, but until you’re writing this column, it’s probably just better than to play it safe and stick with the rules. One last thing: If you feel awkward, you probably look awkward.
danoPendygrasse snowboard photography, snowboarding photos, photographs of snowboarders, shred photographers, snowboard photographer, snow photographers, pictures of snowboarding, pictures of snowboarders, photos of snowboards, photos of snowboarding. Daniel Stephen Pendygrasse, DSP Photography.